The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 13, Number 7 8 April 2011

Copyright 2011, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 303rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We strap on a couple of holsters to carry our cameras and take 10 paces to evaluate them. David tries some of the more exotic shooting modes on the Nikon S8100 before we review Mark Wallace's DVD on studio lighting. Then some odd and unusual links in the news section should keep you busy until next issue.


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Feature: Holster Shootout at the OK Corral

We had our own little confrontation here the other day between two competing holster systems. It was a more interesting battle than we expected so we thought we'd recap it for you.

A holster system is a camera hanging contraption you wear like a belt. That distinguishes it from a vest or harness like the Cotton Carrier (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/CTN/CTN.HTM) we reviewed in Nov. 2009.

We did like the Cotton Carrier (and we weren't alone). We tested, at the same time, a holster attachment, noting it was "a welcome addition but not quite the same thrill as the harness. You do feel the weight, although it is just as simple to attach the camera and remove it."

Since then Andy Cotton has developed the Carry-Lite belt system (http://www.cottoncarrier.com/productscarry-liteconfig.html) for the holster. He sent one for us to work with.

Ten paces away at the other end of the corral we had Shai Eynav's Black Widow system (http://www.spiderholster.com/blackwidow) for lightweight cameras (both digicams and dSLRs) and the heavier duty SpiderPro system (http://www.spiderholster.com).

COMPARISONS

What they have in common is a slotted catch mounted to a pad shaped like a holster (which in turn is attached to a belt). That snags a connector that attaches to the bottom of your camera, mating precisely to the catch on the holster.

They also have a lot of Velcro in common. A lot.

And as systems, they both provide options to handle lightweight cameras and full-blown setups with external flash and long telephoto zooms.

They differ substantially in design but you wouldn't want to use either on a mountain bike or National Geographic trek. They're convenient ways of keeping a camera handy when you're shooting an event, taking a stroll or working in the studio.

The fabric used in the Cotton Carrier system is heavier duty than the Spider fabric. The Cotton appears to use the same 1650 Denier fabric with 20 oz. webbing as the Carrier we reviewed. The Spider belts are made from military grade webbing, the company told us, and seemed perfectly adequate for the task.

THE DESIGN DIFFERENCE

The key difference between the two was in the mount design.

The Cotton Carry-Lite uses the same system as the Cotton Carrier, a flat Lexan receptacle that's a three-inch long hook which snags a round camera insert that looks like a disc. The insert is machined from hard anodized, powder-coated aluminum with stainless steel screws and includes a rubber gasket to snug up tightly against the tripod socket of your camera.

The unobtrusive insert has a clever locking design, which makes it possible to sit the camera down on a table much as if the insert weren't there. In fact, a tripod quick release is a bit more obtrusive. The trick to the round insert is that it's built like an Oreo cookie where the white center is a smaller diameter than the outside cookies. But it isn't round, either. Parallel sides are trimmed off so the insert can slip into the catch when the center of the insert is narrow and locks with a 90-degree twist (from the weight of your lens pointing down).

So in the Cotton system, the lens is always pointing down and the grip is to the rear.

The SpiderPro is an all metal catch with a heavy duty attachment plate designed for heavier pro-level cameras. The Black Widow has a plastic resin catch and an optional thinner stainless steel plate designed for smaller cameras.

The Spider system uses a three-quarter inch pin with a ball on the end. You can't sit the camera down on a table without resting it on the pin and the lens. The ball slips into the catch and can rotate freely in the catch around the ball. That lets you position the camera quite differently from the Cotton.

Where the Cotton attaches to the tripod socket of your camera, the Spider can do that or, in the Pro model, attach to a plate (a lightweight plate intended for use with a quick release system or a heavier plate). The plates allow the pin to be off the tripod mount so you can carry the camera upside down with the grip on the outside, the lens pointing backwards and a flash pointing down.

But where the Cotton insert secures itself to the catch with a 90 degree twist, the Spider catch has a lever that yields to the pin as it pushes in and then traps it from coming back up out of the slot. On the metal Pro model, the lever can be locked in either the trap position or an open position. On the Black Widow, the lever must be pressed to release the pin.

THE BELTS

There is a significant difference in the design of the belts as well.

The Cotton is a much larger affair with a cross strap that you wear over your shoulder and a safety tether you attach to the camera. There is also a padded slide on which you can attach the holster if you're left-handed or a second holster.

Andy recommends giving the holster itself a bend much like the bill of a baseball cap. The PC board inside will then conform to your hip more comfortably.

If you happen to drop the camera, it won't hit the ground because the tether has got it. And the shoulder strap, which Andy wears loose, prevents the belt from slipping down off your hips, as well as providing a place for the tether to attach.

Like the Cotton, the Spider Pro system uses a three-point buckle but the Widow relies on about a quarter mile of Velco. The Pro holster is stiff but the Widow holster is just a pad to protect your hip and your camera from each other.

The Spider catches can be removed from their belts so you can thread your own belt through them, something you can't do with the Cotton system. One less belt to buckle. But there's no shoulder strap or tether on the Spiders.

Mounting the Pro catch on its belt requires simply slipping it over the top edge and securing the bottom of it to the belt with an elastic band built into the belt.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Both systems worked as advertised. They both hold a camera more securely than a free-swinging cross strap.

For heavier gear, we really did appreciate both the shoulder strap and tether of the Cotton. If it seemed a bit much at first, we quickly got used to it.

And while the Cotton works just as well for lighter gear, having just the Black Widow catch on your own belt is a nice solution for a smaller camera like a Micro Four-Thirds digicam. They can be a bit large for a pocket if a bit small for a shoulder strap.

Of course, you can just slip the Cotton holster around your belt, too. Velcro holds the inner flap against the outer holster very securely.

We really liked the way the Spider pin and an accessory plate hung a dSLR grip out with the lens back (but you'll have to add a $16.99 tripod adapter with a quick release plate).

That still won't solve the problem of the pin sticking out three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of your camera. So if you have to put your camera down, the Spider may not be your best bet. It does go easily from hip to hand to tripod, though, so you may never have to put your camera down.

PRICE

Because these are systems, you have some pricing options.

The Cotton Carry-Lite waist belt itself is $69, which Cotton considers an upgrade if you have an existing system. The Carry-Lite for one regular camera is $99 (one hub, tether and holster). For one pro camera with a battery grip, it's $109 (with one angled hub to offset the camera weight). The base model for one camera of any type (but not a battery grip) is $119 (one angled hub, one regular hub, one tether, one holster). For two cameras it's $139 (two regular hubs, two tethers, two holsters). And the pro version for two battery-gripped cameras is $149 (two angled hubs, two tethers, two holsters).

The Spider Black Widow holster and pin is $49.99, the belt is $15.99, the pad is $8.99, the tripod plate is $15.99 and the pin is $7.99. The SpiderPro is $135 for one holster, one plate, one belt and one pin. The catch itself is $105, the plate is $25 and the belt is $35.

You practically need a spreadsheet to configure the system for your needs, which should come as some relief to procrastinators.

CONCLUSION

So who won the shootout? Both products were impressive, securely holding our cameras on our hips for us. And both of them released the camera easily, although the less expensive Black Widow did require two hands to open the latch and release the camera.

For a full-blown outfit that can handle any load, we didn't find the price difference all that significant. You could say the same about just using a Cotton holster on your belt for a light load, too.

We did really like the angle the Spiders held the cameras. But the price you pay is that long pin sticking out the bottom of the camera. On the other hand, the Cotton system always strikes us as particularly elegant.

In the end, there were no mortal blows delivered. It all seemed more a matter of style than a life or death showdown. And that made our day.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon Coolpix S8100 User Report

By DAVID ELRICH
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS8100/CPS8100A.HTM on the Web site.)

You've heard about the newest megazooms with their 36x lenses and others nipping at their heels with 35x and 30x zooms. Regardless whether you love or hate them, there's no getting away from the fact they are almost dSLR-like in size and weight. In other words, they're a commitment to carry.

That's not the case with digicams like the Nikon Coolpix S8100, with its nice 10x zoom (30-300mm 35mm equivalent) and a body slightly more than an inch thick. There's no commitment here other than spending around $300 for the 12.1-megapixel CMOS camera.

Let's see if this is one trip down the aisle we'd gladly make.

LOOK & FEEL

The Coolpix S8100 is a fairly good-looking camera, dressed in black, with a solid heft. It doesn't feel like your basic flimsy silver point-and-shoot -- it has a nice, muted black surface -- tipping the scales at 7.2 ounces with battery and card. Alas, the front has way too much white text surrounding the 10x extending zoom. Coupled with the various logos and icons, Nikon spoiled the overall look on the front fascia for me. Also on the front of the Nikon S8100 is a self-timer/AF Assist lamp and a slightly raised bar that -- along with the textured thumb rest on the back -- helps keep your fingers positioned properly. It doesn't have a large grip, but this wasn't a detriment in any way.

The dominant feature on the back is a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with an outstanding 921,600-dot resolution. We tested the Nikon S8100 in all types of light and had no difficulties framing our subjects. Other controls on the rear are the ones you'd expect to see unless you've lived in a cave since President Reagan was in office. Standing out is the Record button, marked with a red dot for capturing videos (1920x1080 at 30 fps) on the top right next to the thumb rest. Below this is the Playback key and classic four-way controller with center OK button, which also serves as a mechanical scroll dial. The four directions give you access to Exposure compensation, Macro, Self-timer and Flash settings. Below it are the Menu and Delete keys. As I said, as familiar as can be.

On top of the Nikon S8100 is a pop-up flash, stereo mics, on/off button and a mode dial that has reassuring clicks as you change options. The dial has rather limited choices as we'll detail shortly -- just realize there are no PASM options; in fact major manual adjustments are nowhere to be found on this camera beyond EV, white balance and ISO. Next to the dial is the shutter button surrounded by a zoom toggle. One nitpick: the on/off button is very small, indented and tough to press.

The left side is plain other than a four-pinhole speaker. On the right side is a plastic door for the mini-HDMI output and an eyelet for the supplied wrist strap. The flexible plastic door has two hinges and I'd avoid yanking on it in order to prevent a trip to the service center. Surprisingly, the combo A/V-USB out is on the bottom of the Nikon S8100, next to the compartment that holds the battery and SD/SDHC/SDXC card; the Made-in-Indonesia camera is not compatible with MultiMedia Cards, but that's not such big deal in 2011 with the plummeting prices of SD media. The camera measures 4.1x2.3x1.2. This is a solid, easy-to-hold camera you'll have no problems carrying around at all times.

LENS

Within the Nikon S8100's 1.2-inch deep body is an extending 10x Nikkor ED glass optical zoom lens. It has a range of 30-300mm so you can capture decent wide-angle landscapes and family portraits as well as zooming in on specific subjects in the distance. Personally I prefer a wider opening focal length (26mm or 28mm) but you can't have everything. The lens has a maximum aperture range of f3.5 to f5.6 with 10 elements in 8 groups and a 2-step ND filter. Macro gets as close as 0.4 inches.

Even though the Nikon S8100 has "only" a 300mm telephoto, not the 820mm of some megazooms, image stabilization is still very important, as every jitter will be magnified at the longest focal length. Nikon employs four-way Vibration Reduction including optical image stabilization. It also boosts ISO to 3200 in certain instances.

CONTROLS

Since this is a point-and-shoot, not a dSLR or even an advanced digicam like the Coolpix P7000, controls are very basic, typical of an aim-and-forget digicam. Remember, the Nikon S8100 has very few manual adjustments other than exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, vividness and hue -- forget manual focus or changing apertures and shutter speeds. These are handled automatically when you choose a specific Scene mode. Your main control is the Zoom toggle switch surrounding the shutter button. It moves through the 10x range very quickly with no "hitching."

MODES

This is clearly a point-and-shoot, but even though it doesn't have the tweakability enthusiasts desire, it does have some options on the Mode dial. There are the standards such as Auto, Continuous, Scene, Scene Auto Selector and Subject Tracking.

On the more unusual front, the dial gives you quick access to Night Landscape, Night Portrait and Backlighting. These options capture a series of shots, which are combined in camera for improved quality. In Backlighting mode you can enable HDR, which combines frames for a more even exposure in difficult lighting situations. It's off in the default mode, but Nikon should definitely enable it from the outset. You'll know why as you read on.

The Continuous mode offers more than the usual burst options. It has Continuous H, L, pre-shooting cache, Sports Continuous, Nikon's Best Shot Selector and Multi-shot 16. H gives you 10 frames per second, L is 26 frames at 1.8 fps while the pre-shooting cache saves up to two frames before you press the shutter completely down (up to 5 frames total at up to 5 fps). Sports Continuous grabs up to 54 frames at 1/120th of second, but they're 1-Mp images. Multi-shot 16 takes 16 2-Mp stills at 30 fps. As we said, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 has plenty of options, but the results are far from dSLR-like.

With Scene mode you have access to 13 of the usual choices ranging from Portrait to Food. Scene Auto Selector is similar to intelligent auto found on other digicams. Here the Nikon S8100 guesses the scene in front of it makes the appropriate adjustments; it chooses among seven options and does a good job of guessing correctly. Subject Tracking lets you designate a key subject such as a child and the focus area moves along with that person or thing when you keep it in the view screen.

Since this is 2011, HD video is a given for a quality digicam. With the Nikon S8100 you can record Full HD 1920x1080 videos at 30 fps with the MPEG-4 AVC H.264 codec (MOV format). This is not the best available for a digicam -- select Sonys and Panasonics shoot AVCHD 1080i at 60 fps. This setting is much better, but keep in mind that new camcorders on the market shoot 1080/60p, some of the best-looking video I've shot to date.

STORAGE & BATTERY

The Coolpix S8100 uses SD, SDHC and SDXC cards but not MMC in any form. Since Full HD video is an important feature, at least a Class 6 high-speed card should be used; 4 or 8-GB will do the trick. The S8100 also includes 102-MB of built-in memory.

The Nikon S8100 is supplied with an EN-EL12 lithium-ion battery. Per CIPA standards, it lasts for 210 shots in still mode. Even though I got more than that during my tests, this is below average, so a spare makes good sense for anyone planning on spending a long day in the field.

Speaking of the battery, Nikon does not supply a dedicated charger. You connect the camera to an AC adapter via the supplied USB cable. In other words you have to charge the battery in-camera so your new baby is out of commission until it's re-juiced. The plus side is that you can charge the battery via your computer's USB port, so long as you've brought along the Nikon S8100's USB cable.

SHOOTING

Bears and photographers start stirring when the weather warms up from the dead of winter. What better place to go than the beach in the Northeast to get a taste of summer? Actually I could think of many toastier climes, but New York's Coney Island, a faded seaside resort with some good photo opportunities, was on the top of my list. I also had the Nikon S8100 with me for various trips into Manhattan. One of the great things about this camera is the simple fact you can easily tote it around without the bulk of a full-blown dSLR rig.

Before getting into the results, let me report the Nikon S8100 does the trick as a point-and-shoot. Just take it out of your pocket, turn it on and fire away, as it's quite responsive and rarely grabs for focus. On the down side, I kept fumbling with the Power button, as it's really tiny and placed a little too far left on the Nikon S8100's top deck. The camera travels the zoom range smoothly and at 10x the time it takes from 30-300mm is rather quick. The LCD screen is a winner. Although it's fixed, not vari-angle, I had no complaints even shooting in direct sunlight. The menus are simple and it's doubtful most will even load the User's Manual disc in their computers to get up and running. I did all of my shooting at the 4000x3000-pixel Fine setting, starting in Auto then Scene Auto Selector then exploring the other Mode dial options. Once home, I downloaded everything to a PC, made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post-processing and watched the videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV via HDMI. And now for the $300 question.

At first I wasn't completely satisfied with the images captured by the Nikon S8100. The Pollyanna in me always gives the benefit of the doubt to every camera even point-and-shoots with 1/2.3-inch sensors. And that's good, because over time I came to appreciate images from the Nikon S8100. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Like any decent camera, the Nikon S8100 delivers very good photos when there's enough light, be it a sunny day by the beach or shooting orchids in a sunlit window.

When I began my photo safari in Coney Island, great scenes immediately presented themselves. These included colorful steel superstructures of rides under construction, the world-famous red parachute jump, over-the-top street signs and, of course, the ocean nearby reflecting the sunshine. While shooting in Auto under these conditions the camera typically used ISO 160 (the best setting) and the results onscreen and my 8x10 prints were top notch. You'd have to be super picky to find any issues with them. Colors were very accurate, not quite as vivid as those from a Canon PowerShot but still very good. This was confirmed by our lab as at ISO 160 and 200 prints look good at 16x20, but a tad sharper at 13x19 inches.

Although not a megazoom, the Nikon S8100's 10x zoom is a good one -- especially in a body only slightly more than an inch thick. I enjoyed having the 30-300mm focal range at my fingertips. Although it's not my preferred 26-28mm, the 30mm setting provides a bit of good perspective distortion (not geometric distortion) which is a true positive with architectural images such as a Gehry building in Manhattan or the parachute jump in Coney Island. The results were good shooting a wide view of a fake palm tree on the beach and then zooming in to a person on the pier I could barely see. There's something to be said for a potent telephoto you can easily carry around. I did notice some purple fringing at extreme telephoto, but although noticeable at 100 percent blowups on the monitor, it was negligible in my prints.

In the lab results, corners are soft at wide-angle, but only in the very far corners. Tele corners look good. Chromatic aberration is high at wide-angle, reaching far into the frame but it's worse on the left side. C.A. is moderate at telephoto, but it also extends far into the frame. There's very slight barrel distortion at wide-angle and telephoto.

Night Landscape is a Scene Mode Nikon took out of the chorus and put out front on the Mode dial. I used this often in Manhattan, shooting various lighted buildings at night, of course. Results of these handheld shots were mixed as the four-way VR didn't deliver rock solid images compared the five-way system of the Coolpix P100. Sometimes a monopod is the only answer for shots of this type.

One of my favorite features on the camera is Backlight HDR, another Scene Mode Nikon put up front on the Mode dial. Although the camera takes a breather for about 15-20 seconds as it processes and saves multiple frames to the card, the results are well worth it. Granted it's for static subjects, but the setting does wonders for your photos, improving the overall tone and enhancing subjects in shadows. It's very cool. I'm not saying you should buy this digicam just for this option, but the results are terrific with accurate exposures in oddly-lit situations.

Not much was moving quickly in my travels -- everyone's still thawing out -- but a flock of fleeing seagulls gave the camera a chance to use Continuous H. The results were OK, nothing more. My hat goes off to those SI photographers who freeze peak-performing athletes in action. The fact they use $10,000 dSLRs that grab eight frames per second and not $299 digicams might also have something to do with their outstanding results. Don't expect anything like it with the Nikon S8100.

On a brighter note, the Coolpix S8100 is a responsive camera. Per our lab tests shutter lag is very fast: 0.177s wide, 0.179s tele; pre-focused 0.071s. Cycle time is 1.4 seconds per shot (0.71 fps) while the flash recycle is 5.4 seconds.

I also took some macro images of flowers and a candle flame and my real-world results were quite good. The lab showed the camera had a very close macro but like most, it softens quickly radiating out from the center. You'll like the results as I did.

Although the Nikon Coolpix S8100 handles well-lit photos quite well, it's less successful with movies. The 1920x1080 videos at 30 fps are better than years past, but they just don't have the richness of a quality AVCHD model shooting at 24 Mbps -- forget the newest editions capturing 1080/60p which is 28 Mbps. Remember this is a $299 digicam that shoots HD videos, not a similarly-priced camcorder whose reason for being is movie recording. That caveat on the table, colors were on the money, the optical zoom is available and the stereo sound is a bonus. The tiny mics magnify wind noise, so be prepared for a soundtrack that puts you on an airport runway with just a slight breeze.

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 performed its assigned duties well outdoors and occasionally impressed indoors and at night. It's easy to expect too much from a pocket long zoom, but we think the Nikon S8100 will serve very well for most casual photographers.

SAMPLE IMAGES

You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS8100/CPS8100A7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS8100/CPS8100GALLERY.HTM.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I liked the Nikon Coolpix 8100 and had a lot of fun shooting with it. Outdoors, the Nikon S8100 takes very good photographs with excellent color. Indoors, the camera does reasonably well considering the 12-Mp resolution and long zoom; and the Nikon S8100 even has HDR modes to deal with difficult lighting situations.

The most important feature of the Nikon S8100 is its 10x zoom in a compact frame which is a real bonus for street photographers and vacationers. I liked it and definitely consider the Backlight HDR a real plus. Shutter lag and overall control response is excellent, yet the four-way VR is not the best stabilization system I've used. Videos are acceptable, if not in the same league as a camcorder; but at least you can zoom optically while recording, for greater versatility.

In the end, it's the printed results that matter, making me feel good about recommending the Nikon Coolpix S8100 as a quality contender in the pocket long zoom space and a Dave's Pick!

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New on the Site

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

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Book Bag: Studio Light Essentials For Portrait Photography

There are not a lot of guides for artificial lighting.

Our old favorite is a 116-page hardback written by Ansel Adams and features a nice collection of his commercial work. It discusses the principals of artificial lighting as well as the particulars of those commercial shots. But it's mainly text and almost no diagrams.

But there's good news for anyone looking for a more modern approach.

Mark Wallace, a commercial photographer based in Phoenix who is also a well-respected photography instructor, has recorded a condensed version of his lighting workshop on DVD. You can get through the professionally produced two-disc set in a morning or afternoon. We did it in two sessions, taking about an hour and 45 minutes to watch the main DVD and another 20 minutes to watch the bonus DVD.

Wallace, who is easy to follow, begins at the beginning, discussing the basics before showing you a few setups. The basics really are basic (to start with, at least) but if you don't have a handle on them, you'll be working in the dark.

So Wallace explains Direction of Light (and how to talk about it), Shadows (with hard edges and soft edges) and Qualities of Light, all nicely illustrated with animated graphics. Even if you know this stuff, it's nice to have it so neatly presented.

Then things get interesting.

Equipment Essentials describes the products he uses, which is quite an array of gear. You might, as we did, wish the camera would zoom in a bit here to see the smaller gear more clearly, but later, when he uses the devices, there's plenty of detail although the video resolution (something like 870x512) isn't much for detail.

The chapter continues with an Introduction to Metering, which discusses how (and why) to use an incident flash meter (in this case a Sekonic) to set your aperture. Sync speeds are also explained before Wallace shows you how to take a few real meter readings.

Then he describes a basic three-light setup using a main or key light, a fill light and a separation light behind the subject.

Wallace then discusses color temperature on the way to setting a custom white balance with a gray card before showing you how to use a ColorChecker Passport in the studio. The bonus DVD shows you what to do with the ColorChecker images in Lightroom.

Then it's back to equipment again, going through the various studio lighting options, explaining various watt-second capacities. He explains the controls on a Profoto monoblock. He does not cover the use of compact strobes in this DVD.

Quite a chapter. A very valuable chapter, the heart of the DVD really, taking 1:14 of the 1:45 presentation. It answers definitively a lot of questions that are usually left to the student to fumble and fall on.

With an understanding of a three-light setup, you're ready to zip through a variety of portrait lighting setups in the next chapter.

Wallace explains the setup, meters for the effect he wants using the three lights, then shows you the results by overlaying the stills on the video screen. He makes adjustments as he goes along, explaining why he's making changes and what trouble you can get into.

And again he's easy to follow. He's prepared you well in the first chapter to see what he's doing and why he's breaking a few rules here and there.

There are about half a dozen three-light setups before Wallace gets into other lighting setups using, for example, a fresnel lens to get hard light for black and white work. There are quite a variety of setups illustrating a wide range of portraiture effects. In all, Wallace details over 20 lighting setups on the DVDs.

The 20-minute bonus DVD includes lessons on flash duration and refresh rates, dragging the shutter and using the X-Right ColorChecker Passport to calibrate color for a setup.

You can get a taste of Wallace's approach with this YouTube sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBWYN6xZ_mM.

And now the bad news. Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography is $150 when ordered directly from http://www.studiolightingessentials.com. But video segments of the disks can be rented at http://www.YouTube.com/snapfactory. A 72-hour rental for a nearly 32-minute segment is $12.99. A 30-day rental for more than one hour of instruction is $29.99. Bonus content available on the DVD set, however, is not available in the rental segments.

It's always interesting watching a pro work and when the pro also explains clearly what he's doing, it's an education. Mark Wallace covers a lot of ground in Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography but he never loses the viewer. We do wish he'd done a few setups with strobes instead of monoblocs but the lessons are applicable to different gear.

We're glad to see this valuable title is available for rental but pros won't mind adding it to their library, not so much as a reference work as inspiration.

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In the Forums

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

Read about the Canon MG5220 printer at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeb0e20/0

Follow the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner discussion at: http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeaf816/0

Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5

Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Hail Mary, Veronica, Jude

I read, with considerable interest, your reviews of the Epson Perfection V600 and V700/750. I understand the reasoning behind your recommendation for most people to hire a professional service to scan their photos. Spock would be perfectly happy with the logic of your arguments.

Unfortunately, my situation may be somewhat outside the norm and so I was wondering if you would be willing to make a recommendation on the most suitable scanning solution.

I have three primary needs for a scanner:

  1. To scan my older family photos. We bought a Canon T1i more than a year ago so newer pictures and video are all digital. If this was my only need, I would just pay a service.

  2. To scan family photos of close relatives. My mom was the oldest of 15 kids and I have 40 first cousins. Many of these people will lend me the pictures but won't (or can't) scan them for themselves.

  3. It has occurred to me that many people (especially seniors) have pictures worth saving but not the time, equipment or skills to scan them. I was thinking about starting a charity "The Saint Veronica Project" to:

Some of the family pictures are slides and some are negatives. I have no way of knowing what The Saint Veronica Project might get.

About the most that I can afford at this point if the V700. Is that overkill? Is it inadequate for what I have in mind? Is there a better solution that I am overlooking?

-- Donald McLean

(Not to put too fine a line on it, but wouldn't St. Jude be a better choice for the project name? The sort of scanners you mentioned are underkill for the scope of the project you propose. You really want professional level gear that has automatic feeding and very fast high resolution scanning. The sort of stuff the pro labs buy. You'd also have to deal with prints, no doubt, the original film for most images having gone to their reward. Of course the poor man's version of that pro scanner, which can handle everything actually, is your camera with the right macro lens. Setup can be challenging, but that's why we suggested St. Jude. -- Editor)

RE: Back to School

Hello, I am a college student who loves scrapbooking and genealogy when I'm not studying metallurgy. I very naively agreed to scan a portion of my grandmother's photos (over 100 rolls of film plus a bunch of 8x10). So I started some research (I have found your Web site extremely helpful). I was pretty much set on getting either the Epson V600 or CanoScan 8800F. I knew it would cost me a fortune in time, but I simply don't have the money to pay somebody else to do it. They both appeared to be compatible with my Mac, easy for beginners and would be able to scan my media. I could also tell my mom to save her money and not out source for all the 35mm slides she has.

Having a plan on how to scan, I looked into the next problem. Opening the canisters. Thats when I discovered that Advantix film is not 35mm. I did mention that I knew nothing about this project before starting right? I also discovered that any scanner with an adapter for APS is so old I can't find it on eBay or Amazon -- and if I could, the adapters cost more than getting the scanners I was originally looking at. I did however, learn how to remove the film with out going hammer and plier happy.

My question(s) for you: is there any affordable way to scan APS in scanners that available today? I don't care about time (much). Do you know of a practical and successful way of adapting the film holders for APS? How do I flatten the film that is curlier than my hair (and my hair is curly)?

Before today I knew nothing about scanning except that the scanner on my printer takes five minuets for one page of notes. I still know nothing that will help me complete this project. Please any help or advice you have would be amazing.

-- Nicole Cotanche

(There's really nothing special about a film holder. You can always make your own, as we discussed last month (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Glass would certainly flatten the film. Or you can buy one (if not cheaply from http://www.filmscanusa.com/cs-cart/index.php?target=products&product_id=29819) or just use the 35mm holder (one edge will not be masked, but you can slip a black card in there to hold the edge down.) At an hour a roll of film, though, you may want to consider graduate school instead. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

April Fool's Day passed with difficulty distinguishing itself from the rest of the year except in Kodak's case, where it launched Relationshiffft: Automated Person Purge (http://1000words.kodak.com/thousandwords/post/?ID=8181863819447193778) "to instantly remove that certain someone from all your photos and videos, no matter where they're posted!" Including, presumably, Kodak's annual report.


Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) has released Bibble 5.2.2 [MW] with broader Raw file support (Canon sRAW/mRAW formats, Nikon D1x, Sony A290/A390 cameras), improved stability, improved interaction with plug-ins and fixes for minor issues.


Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) is giving away a copy of Adobe Lightroom 3 and Eye-Fi Pro X2. Become an Eye-Fi fan on Facebook and complete the entry form before April 10 at 11:59 p.m. PST.


Delkin (http://delkin.com/i-6483223-8gb-delkin-elite-633-sdhc-uhs-i.html) has introduced its $139.99 Elite 633 SD card, an 8-GB card with 80 MB/s writes and 95 MB/s reads, which the company claims makes it "the fastest SDHC card on the market."


Tamron (http://www.tamron-usa.com) has launched MyPhotoExhibits (http://myphotoexhibits.com) to showcase images by creating "customizable 3D exhibits with a vibrant interactive experience."


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) takes 20 percent off Mother's Day photo books with the code "WELOVEMOM." Order by April 27 for ground shipping.


Rocky Nook has published Remote Exposure: A Guide to Hiking and Climbing Photography by Alexandre Buisse, covering equipment for challenging environments and advice on composition with 100 images Buisse has captured. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 36 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952652/?tag=theimagingres-20).

The company has also published Digital Photography Essentials by Glenn Rand, Christopher Broughton, and Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler from its Brooks Institute Press imprint. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 39 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952725/?tag=theimagingres-20).

Painting with Light (available at a 37 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952741/?tag=theimagingres-20) illuminates Light Art Performance Photography. Authors Joerg Miedza and JanLeonardo Woellert developed the technique.


Leica has announced its 32nd annual Leica Oskar Barnack Award (http://www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com) has recorded over 2,000 submissions from photographers in 89 countries, up from 1,700 entries in 2010.


Epson has expanded its Stylus Pro line of Designer Edition bundles that combine Pro printers with EFI eXpress RIPs. The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Designer Edition is now joined by the Epson Stylus Pro 3880, 7890 and 9890 Designer Editions.

The company has also posted a new video featuring National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson using the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 to produce prints for his recent "Around the World" Exhibition (http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Pro/FocalPoints/Story/Epson4900Series.do?BV_UseBVCookie=yes).


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released RAW Developer 1.9.1 [M] with support for the Fuji X100/F550EXR/HS20EXR/HS22EXR, reduced memory requirements for loading very large numbers of certain image formats and new keyboard shortcuts.


O'Reilly and Pogue Press have published iPhoto '11: The Missing Manual by David Pogue, Lesa Snider and iMovie '11 & iDVD: The Missing Manual by David Pogue and Aaron Miller. The iPhoto title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 38 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1449393233/?tag=theimagingres-20) and the iMovie title at a 39 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1449393276/?tag=theimagingres-20).


According to Tom Hogarty, DNG Converter 6.4, currently available as a Release Candidate, will be the last version to support PowerPC Mac systems (http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal/2011/03/dng-converter-6-4-last-to-support-powerpc-mac-systems.html).

In an unrelated development, Adobe has launched its Photoshop Family Feedback Site (http://feedback.photoshop.com), a resource for learning about Photoshop and pelting the team with ideas and requests.


Are you ready for you close-up, Mercury? NASA's Messenger program has published the first image "ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit around the Solar System's innermost planet" (http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/gallery/sciencePhotos/image.php?gallery_id=2&image_id=432).


Awkward Stock Photos (http://awkwardstockphotos.com) graciously accepts submissions, of course.


N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd pays homage to street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham in Hunting Birds of Paradise (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/opinion/06dowd.html?src=mv&ref=homepage). "He admires anybody who looks good, the obscure as well as the famous, the old stylish gals as well as the young, women elegantly draping garbage bags against the storm as well as women in couture," she observes.


Swiss developer cf/x (http://www.cfxsoftware.com) has updated its $29.99 collage, their best-selling photo collage software with 20 Color Themes, desktop wallpaper exports, improved automatic watermarking and general stability enhancements.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.0.29 [LMW] with fixes for a variety of scanners.

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One Liners

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

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Signoff

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Happy snapping!

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

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