|Volume 13, Number 9||6 May 2011|
Welcome to the 305th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We pack the compact Retro 5 bag with a mirrorless camera, retiring our Domke. Then we have some fun with Canon's inexpensive A3300. After we read a photo book for kids, we take a walk to Fisherman's Wharf where some magic happens. Charge your batteries!
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While it wasn't available until just this week, Think Tank Photo managed to get a sample of its Retrospective 5 bag in our hands a few weeks ago when we praised them for designing something for a mirrorless camera.
We've been using an Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the 14-42mm kit zoom lens (a bargain at $399 while supplies last) for a few months now, thanks to a generous long-term loan. And we've got a few accessories, including the Lensbaby Composer with Tilt Transformer (which makes our Nikon lenses accessories, too) and the Olympus VF-2 viewfinder.
To pack just the camera and viewfinder, we resorted to using a Lowepro holster with a borrowed divider as a false bottom. Under the divider, we put the viewfinder. The camera sat above the divider, ready to go when we were. Not bad, but that was all the room the holster provided.
We use the E-PL1 with a wrist strap because we often just grab it and slip it into a jacket pocket. If we had to use it with a shoulder strap, we'd probably sling a dSLR over our shoulder instead.
But the holster was no help when we wanted to bring more lenses or a flash or a few non-camera items like a notebook (the paper kind), glasses case, wallet and maybe even the Secret of Life.
If we're wandering (and four paragraphs without mentioning the product may be considered just that), it's because bags are such a personal decision. What works depends on what you have and what you're doing with it. And that can change from one day to the next. Even one hour to the next.
Which is why (if you'll forgive a bit more wandering) it's been so hard for us to replace our 1980s Domke bag. It's a compact Domke with a back pocket, a zippered interior pocket on the flap, an expandable pocket in front and a handy side car that holds an external flash. The interior is roomy with two sewn-in canvas dividers on the side to hold lenses or other gear.
It's about 5.5 x 7.0 inches and 8 inches deep. Roomy indeed and a bit much for a mirrorless setup. And it's paid for.
Nearly the perfect thing for a mirrorless camera and accessories. The right size, but a bit thin on the accommodations.
The Retro 5 is about the same size as our Domke. The Domke is a bit roomier but the Retro 5 is soft enough to yield to even our dSLRs. And it has quite a few more hiding places.
The Retro 5's interior dimensions are 4.5 x 9.5 inches and 7.8 inches deep. But it isn't really rectangular, with more of a D shape that has a wider back than front panel.
Like the Domke it has an expandable front pocket (with a rain cover in it). Its back pocket, though, is zippered and there's no pocket in the flap. The flap locks to the front panel with two Velcro attachments which can be "silenced" by folding them back on themselves (a very clever solution). There are two other zippered pockets on the inside (along the long walls), two open fabric pockets in each side (both outside and inside). There's a shoulder strap, like the Domke, and a fabric handle, too. The shoulder strap, though, is quite a bit nicer than the Domke's plain old fabric belt, featuring a slip-resistant grip on a sliding pad.
It weighs about 2.3 lbs. and lists for $129.75 directly from the company in two colors: black and pinestone. It's also sold through a network of retailers (http://www.thinktankphoto.com/store-locator.aspx).
Think Tank Photo says the number one reason bags fail is the zipper or slider. So the company uses YKK RC-fused zippers in which the sewing thread is melted (fused) with the plastic coil for abrasion resistance.
There's no PVC in the bag, either. And the company's No Rhetoric Warranty guarantees and warrants the bag against "any defects in material or workmanship for as long as you use the bag." If you have a problem, contact them for return authorization and they'll repair or replace it. They know most photographers (except us) upgrade their bag when they buy new equipment, so bags tend to have a practical lifetime of four to 10 years.
We obviously don't stress the one zipper on the Domke but the Retro has so many, you'll inevitably be using them. So it's good to know they are built to last.
In fact, the whole bag is built to last, like every Think Tank Photo product we've tried. The company takes no shortcuts on materials or manufacture. And it's reflected in the price.
It's also a good bit more generously padded than the Domke, which has just a pad on the bottom. We stuffed packed bubbles in the bottom of the side car to protect whatever we put in there, but there's no need for that sort of thing with the Retro. There are a couple of removable pads on the bottom and compartments line the sides so whatever you put in them cushions your expensive gear.
So what about the side car? This is just one of those things we're used to that we never seem to be able to find an equivalent for. Even the Think Tank Photo accessory bags are not quite the right thing. They want a belt to hook onto. And the Retro 5 only has non-expanding side pockets so tight you can barely slip anything into them.
But we did solve the problem. The carrying bag for our external flash is just the right height to get bungy-corded to the shoulder ring on the Retro 5 shoulder strap. Perfect. And we've never been able to say that before.
Of course, there are larger bags (like the Retro 10) but sometimes you just need to add a small accessory bag.
During the last century, the Domke was perfect for carrying our old Nikon FM2 with a middle zoom and a motor drive plus an external flash. The front pocket held extra batteries for the flash and an assortment of small things we found useful for press events.
The Retro 5, with our external flash bag, handles the same arrangement for a mid-size dSLR. With a zoom on the camera, you still have room for a couple of primes inside the bag. You don't have room for a flash in the bag, but you can attach one outside, as we noted.
For a mirrorless adventure, you can indeed pack the flash inside. And the viewfinder and extra lenses. The Retro 5 includes a number of Velcro dividers to arrange the interior into whatever compartments suit your outfit. Or you can strip the interior and use soft Velcro equipment wraps. For inspiration on configuring the interior see the FAQ (http://www.thinktankphoto.com/knowledge-base.aspx).
The inside pocket on the outside panel has pockets for extra memory cards. We moved the rain cover (which we won't leave home without) to the back outside zippered pocket to free up the larger expandable front outside pocket. Good place for batteries, cleaning cloths, etc. that you need to get to.
We have no idea what to drop in the side pockets (either inside or outside) but we're glad they're there. Battery charger, cables, who knows. You can never have enough pockets. Think Tank Photo doesn't leave an inch unused (except, perhaps for the flap but that would make it a little stiffer).
As for the clever Velcro silencer on the flap, we decided to use just one of them. So the flap stays put with the active Velcro attachment and we can sneak a hand into the bag on the unsecured side. Works well.
We've been impressed with the company's products for a long time now. And we've used a few of them for, well, more than a "practical lifetime," too. The design is thoughtful, the engineering reliable, the materials uncompromising.
There are quite a few options in the product line but until now, we hadn't found one as classic as the Domke and as modern as a mirrorless.
Maybe that's why they call it the Retrospective 5.
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3300IS/A3300ISA.HTM on the Web site.)
It's been nearly a year since we mourned the demise of the Canon A Series digicam. You know, the PASM modes with the AA batteries in a chunky plastic box you were nearly embarrassed to pull out at a party. Except it took great pictures. And taught you the craft.
So we're over it. Really.
But when we pulled the Canon A3300 IS out of the box and turned it on, we wondered if we had really recovered. It's so small it should be sold as a keychain, but its controls are not for the arthritic and never mind modes helpful for learning photography.
Then we looked at the Canon A3300's images. It was as if we'd just bought new specs. We hadn't realized what we'd been missing. Vivid, crisp shots. Nothing at all like the texture-less things we saw from the Panasonic ZS10.
An epiphany dropped into our lap. Canon is onto something, we thought. They've attacked the cellphone dictatorship with the passive resistance of a tiny camera with big quality. History has spoken. Put your cellphone down. Pick up an A-Series camera and have some quality fun. It's easy.
Well, except for one thing.
LOOK & FEEL
No kidding, it should come with a key ring. The Canon A3300 fits in your pocket or purse, smaller than a wallet. But it doesn't give up the big screen.
And for those of you comparing it to last year's model, the Canon A3300 has the advantage of a Zoom ring around the Shutter button, rather than a Zoom toggle on the back panel.
The controls are way too stiff for our taste. And they don't seem to break in. The good news is that the Mode dial's stiffness keeps it from easily changing while the Canon A3300 rides in a pocket. But if you hand this to a friend or relative to take your picture, we guarantee you they will press the Mode dial to trip the shutter three times before you tell them the Shutter button is further to the left.
There is no grip to speak of on the Canon A3300 (apart from three small thumb bumps on the back), but let us ask you if you've ever bothered about a grip on your cellphone? Didn't think so.
We have to say the Canon A3300 is an attractively sculpted camera. And you can get it in red, black, blue, silver or pink.
Controls. The Canon A3300's two-tone design helps organize the controls into a hierarchy of their own. But they don't break down into black and silver (or color) controls. They break down, instead, into controls that draw your attention because they contrast with their setting and those that don't.
So within the Canon A3300's black trim on top, you have the nearly invisible Zoom ring (you feel that and don't have to look for it), the invisible Power button (which you don't need to see either) and the black Mode dial, which is large enough to notice but doesn't distract you. The contrasting control within the black trim is the Shutter button, the one thing you do want to keep an eye on.
Same scheme on the back panel where the four-way navigator arrows are black and everything else is, like the panel, silver. This is a very smart arrangement that highlights the controls you are most likely to need while keeping handy ones you expect to look for.
So what are the controls? Let's take the tour.
On top from left to right, there is a very tiny one-hole microphone just under the second three in the model name, a three-hole speaker, the slightly-recessed Power button, the Shutter button surrounded by the Zoom lever and the Mode dial.
On the Canon A3300's back panel to the right of the 230K-pixel, 3.0-inch LCD is the four-way navigator surrounded the Function/Set button with arrows doing double duty: Up handles Rotate/EV, Right cycles through the Flash modes, Down is Delete/Self-Timer and Left is Focus modes (Macro, Normal, Infinity).
Above the navigator are the Face Select button to cycle through the recognized faces, selecting one to focus on and the Playback button, which functions as a Power on/off control as well (without extending the lens).
Below the navigator are the Display button to cycle through the simple display options and the Menu button. Display is also used in Smart Shutter Scene mode to select between Smile, Wink and Face self-timer triggers. Between the navigator and the Display button there is a small green status LED.
On the right panel above the unusual but functional eyelet for the wrist strap, there's a flap covering the AV/USB port. Canon provides only a standard video out cable with the A3300.
Lens. The 5x optical zoom in the Canon A3300 ranges from 28 to 140mm in 35mm equivalents, including a good wide-angle that can capture a room and an adequate telephoto for distant landmarks. It's extended by a 4x digital zoom for a total 20x zoom range. And that range is optically stabilized as well.
That's a bump up from the 4x A3100 lens and although it's a bit shorter than that camera's 140mm telephoto equivalent, wide-angle is more generous than the A3100's 35mm.
Focusing range extends from 1.2 inches to infinity at wide-angle to 3.0 feet to infinity at telephoto. In Macro mode, according to Canon, wide-angle gets as close as 1.2 inches and telephoto 1.6 feet. In Smart Auto, Macro mode is one of the recognized scenes.
Maximum aperture at wide-angle is f2.8 and f5.9 at telephoto.
Shutter speeds range from 15 to 1/1600 seconds, depending on the mode (Long Shutter taps into 15 seconds, otherwise it's 1.0 second). ISO ranges from 80 to 1,600 with a Low Light Scene mode ranging from 400 to 6,400.
Our lens quality tests show the Canon A3300's lens to be slightly soft in the corners at both wide-angle and telephoto, with very mild barrel distortion at wide-angle, which becomes barely perceptible at telephoto. Some moderate chromatic aberration is visible at both wide-angle and telephoto.
Modes. For a simple camera, the Canon A3300 provides quite a few modes. They are all variations on automatic shooting, though, so experimenting with them won't cost you the shot.
Program mode provides the most control over the Canon A3300. You can't adjust the shutter speed or aperture, but you have some control over white balance, ISO and other options.
Live mode uses sliders to adjust Brightness, Color and Tone as you view the image on the LCD. Just press the Function/Set button to see the sliders and use the arrow buttons to select a slider and change its value. The LCD will instantly show you the effect.
Smart Auto analyzes the scene before setting up the camera for the shot. This is where you'll find Scenes that aren't in Scene modes (like Sunset). An icon appears in the corner of the screen to indicate the situation the camera has recognized. It does it quickly and is a boon if you are switching between normal and macro focus modes frequently, as it'll detect object distance and make the change for you. But you don't have the control over exposure you do in Program mode. Fortunately, you can still select between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.
In Easy mode, which functions both in Record and Playback modes, the Canon A3300 displays instructions on the screen. In Record, for example, you just press the Shutter button (although you can turn the flash on or off, too). In Playback, pressing the Function/Set button starts a slide show.
Scene mode automatically optimizes camera settings for special situations. Scene modes include Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter, Low Light, Beach, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks and Long Shutter.
Creative Filters adds special effects to your stills. Creative filters include Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect (Holga vignetting), Monochrome, Super Vivid and Poster Effect.
Discreet mode disables the flash, camera sounds and autofocus assist light. Spy mode, in short.
Movie mode captures clips up to 4-GB or 10 minutes in length in both HD and Standard definition. HD clips are 1280x720 at 30 fps while SD clips are 640x480 or 320x240, both at 30 fps. You can also shoot with the Miniature Effect filter, at 5x (6 fps), 10x (3 fps) and 20x (1.5 fps) playback speeds. Sound is recorded monaurally and digital zoom is available (except with Miniature Effect).
Menu System. Canon fans will be instantly familiar with the company's traditional menu system. And new Canon owners won't take long to figure out the two basic rules:
Storage & Battery. The Canon A3300 includes no built-in memory for image storage, relying entirely on the SD card in the memory card compartment. The A3300 supports SD/SDHC/SDXC, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus Card and HC MMCplus cards. Choose at least a Class 4 card for HD video capture.
- Use the Menu button to make changes to general camera behavior for Recording, Setup, Playback and Printing. Use the Function/Set button to make changes to exposure settings.
- In addition, the four-way navigator arrow buttons provide a few handy shortcuts as explained in the Controls section above.
A 4-GB card will hold about 935 Large Fine JPEGs and 22 min. 5 sec. of 1280x720 30 fps video.
The Canon A3300 is powered by a compact, 3.6 volt, 740 mAh lithium-ion battery. Canon estimates about 230 shots or five hours using CIPA testing standards. We had no issues with battery life. The included charger has folded plugs so you don't need a cable or cord, perfect for travel. A $70 AC adapter kit (ACK-DC60) is also available.
It's gotten to the point that when we see a 14-megapixel camera, we think we're not going to have any fun reviewing the thing. In low natural light we're either going to get unacceptable levels of noise or Impressionist-like noise reduction that wipes out any detail.
So when we saw the A3300 with its 16-Mp sensor, we thought of taking our first vacation in 12 years. To some place without electricity.
But surprise! We really liked the images the A3300 brought home. They had a level of detail we could just rub our nose in. Or, less dramatically, just pixel peep. It's not perfect, because the Canon A3300 does struggle to balance noise suppression against detail, but it does a better job than most of its higher-priced competition. But as a CCD sensor, it's not a surprise to see it doing better than most CMOS designs.
We compared a Panasonic ZS10 shot of the row of logs on Twin Peaks with one from the A3300. It's a little unfair because the ZS10 is shot in partial sun while the A3300 is shot in full sunlight, increasing the overall contrast. But you can still get the idea of the difference between the two when you see the ZS10's more brushstroke-like rendering of the grass in the distance -- low contrast detail -- compared to the Canon A3300's rendering, which looks more like a photograph than a painting. Remember that the Canon A3300 costs $220 less than the Panasonic ZS10 and has two-million more -- and therefore smaller -- pixels, so it's clear that the A3300's CCD is better able to control detail despite its higher resolution.
OK, it isn't really small enough to be a keychain, but the Canon A3300 is compact enough to fit somewhere anytime you leave the house. And because it packs such wonderful image quality along, you won't want to leave it behind.
We shot with the Canon A3300 in a variety of situations: indoors, outdoors, sun, shade, into the sun, sunset store windows at night, black and white, flowers in macro. It handled everything with ease.
As usual, we stuck with Program but we tried Live and used Smart Auto quite a bit (once we realized it would slip into Macro mode for us).
But what we didn't do, for the most part, was any EV adjustment or ISO fiddling. We left that to the Canon A3300 and it handled it very well.
There is a series of gallery shots taken at -0.3 EV but that's a modest change in what were unusual circumstances. It saved us darkening them a bit in image editing software, however.
And the one Low Light shot in the gallery may not be a great shot but color was accurate (not washed out) and detail sufficient if not sharp. We wouldn't hesitate to shift into Low Light.
The image stabilizer, though, means you don't have to resort to that unless there's practically no light. There are two handheld 1/30 second shots in the Gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3300IS/A3300ISGALLERY.HTM), one at night of a store window and one of an interior, that are sharp at low ISOs. That shutter speed may not seem impressive, but with such a light, small camera, we'd expect problems (from our own shooting) under 1/60 second.
Under ideal lighting, you really can enjoy the detail this 16-Mp sensor captures. Two examples in the gallery stand out. The first is that row of logs, particularly in comparison to the Panasonic ZS10 capture. And the second is the macro shot of a seed pod.
Canon claims the A-Series is now the Fun and Easy camera line-up. And it was both of those for us.
But the A-Series used to be the one to pick if you had ambitions to be a photographer and needed an inexpensive student model. Canon stuffed the previous year's technology into a nice affordable bundle and gave you complete control over it. The Canon A3300 isn't that A-Series.
This is the A-Series that will make you forget your cellphone. It takes much better pictures just as easily (and without buying camera apps).
So what's the "one thing" We warned about in the introduction?
It's still easier to share your images and video with a cellphone than with a digicam like the Canon A3300. There's no Share button on the A3300 as there is with some Kodak cameras.
But there's a better solution to that problem than a Kodak. It's a WiFi Eye-Fi SD card (http://www.eye.fi), which instantly turns the Canon A3300 into an image and video sharing monster, assuming you can tap into a WiFi router.
You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3300IS/A3300ISA7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3300IS/A3300ISGALLERY.HTM.
The Canon PowerShot A3300 is one of those cameras your expert buddy (um, like us) would lead you right past at the camera counter of the BigBuy Store. It's not that it's unattractive (it's nicely sculpted, actually), but it's simple. Just a lens with a Shutter button, a Mode dial, controls and an LCD.
In fact, all the interesting things about the Canon A3300 are inside. A decent zoom range for the good 16-Mp images, optical stabilization, 720p HD video, an intelligent Auto mode, a Live view of exposure adjustments and fun creative filters.
We wish the controls were not as stiff but we got used to them. What we didn't get used to was the gorgeous images. The little Canon A3300 captures good quality images with better detail than most digital cameras of this resolution deliver, with accurate color. Print quality was good at 13x19 inches from ISO 80 and 100 images, which is considerably larger than most Canon A3300 buyers will ever print, so we think we're safe saying that though 16-megapixels doesn't mean as much as it would seem, it's still enough to produce pretty big prints and good quality 4x6-inch prints from every ISO offered. We have no qualms giving the Canon A3300 a Dave's Pick.
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:
- Reviewed: Sony A580 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA580/AA580A.HTM). Image quality is about on par with its competition but the Sony A580 makes advances by employing many new technologies first seen in their Cyber-shot and NEX-series cameras like Sweep Panorama, Multi-frame Noise Reduction and Auto HDR modes.
- Reviewed: Canon A3300 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3300IS/A3300ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon ELPH 300 HS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/300HS/300HSA.HTM). The 300 HS packs a 24-120mm equivalent lens, a good quality 2.7-inch LCD and Full HD video capability in a very slim package. Handheld NightScene mode further reveals the advantage of its CMOS image capture, combining three images into one for a smoother still than you'd normally expect at ISO 1600.
Since we're really just a kid at heart, we jumped out of our rocking chair when we heard about Photography for Kids! Photography can be such a technical subject it isn't often the subject of a book for kids. But it's a fun activity at any age and with today's cameras no real understanding is required.
You read that here, folks.
We were delighted to find out Michael Ebert and Sandra Abend were the authors. The two are famous for their photo workshops for children in Germany.
And the book resulting from their efforts is well conceived, telling the story of photography and then explaining what a photo is and what a camera is all in just the first 23 pages of the 160-page book.
The second part of the book covers the kinds of things you can do with the camera: zoom, focus, adjust exposure, stop movement, use the flash, shoot macro, transfer images to a computer. In 20 pages.
The next section is full of suggestions, ranging from taking pictures of your friends, animals, the zoom, black and white, macro, vacation projects, at the pool, at the carnival, at birthdays, self-portraits and your hometown.
Then there are about 14 pages devoted to sharing your images.
Oddly enough, for a book intended for children, there's a four-page glossary, too. With at least one word we'd never heard of before (telephotograph).
The book is nicely designed with color themes for each chapter and tips clearly marked so you can flip through the book to find them. And it's profusely illustrated, crowding out the slight text.
Which is probably a good thing because, like many other Rocky Nook titles, this is a translation from the German original. That's how telephotograph got in the glossary, apparently.
There are some unfortunate passages in the text as well. Do children know, for example, what a "vantage point" is? The text suffers from a number of vocabulary bumps like that plus some tortured sentence structure, derailing the younger reader.
But the biggest criticism of the book is its lack of Unbridled Fun. Sure, there are all sorts of ideas and projects to pursue, as we listed above. But they're all a bit like suggesting you make a cake and put candles on it for a birthday party. Great idea. But obvious. How about a little fun? What games could we play?
The fun we're talking about is exactly what happened when we were riding the bus the other day when 33 grammar school kids got on. "Quiet!" their teacher admonished them as they boarded. "We don't want anyone to notice us!"
She made a game of it and the kids responded. Of course the other passengers would certainly notice 33 kids getting on the bus. It was absurd to suggest otherwise. And yet the kids were quiet -- and enjoyed being quiet, whispering to each other. For, well, a couple of minutes.
It's hard to imagine a kid with a camera who would need this book or even return to it. Which led to one big kid who was disappointed with this title.
Photography for Kids! by Michael Ebert and Sandra Abend, published by Rocky Nook, 160 pages. $24.95 (or 16.47 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952768/?tag=theimagingres-20).
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 Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe
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There we were, the two of us, alone again. We had decided against taking a trip to Santa Barbara and accepting an invitation to travel to Germany. The stars simply had not been aligned.
But we didn't think of it as being stuck at home again. Because home just happens to be San Francisco. And the sun was shining with the temperature rising, so we threw a few things in a camera bag and took the streetcar down to the Embarcadero, like any other tourist. It's our way of simulating international travel without leaving home. The world comes to the Embarcadero. You just have to wind your way through it.
So we walked the wide Herb Caen Way, dodging the bike riders and joggers and strollers, past the Ferry Building, where the Farmers' Market was in full swing, ducking into the Promenade behind the odd-numbered piers to Fisherman's Wharf, taking photos when the view struck us.
And it did strike us. Looking right to the water or left to the city, there was always a view worth focusing on.
How many times have we lined up a shot of Coit Tower in how many viewfinders? And yet, we just happened to turn our gaze toward it when it was framed by two palm trees that apparently had never been there before. So we did it again. Lined up Coit Tower, zoomed in and made our exposure.
When we were satisfied we'd gotten the shot, we turned around and saw a line of fellow tourists ready to take the same shot. Some of them posed members of their group with Coit in the background, improving on our composition.
Not that we were being followed. But it made us wonder if maybe we should have organized a photo walk.
It's flat but a long trek to Fisherman's Wharf, so we were hungry by the time we got there. It isn't really the best place to take out your wallet. And you do have to know what to order (what fish is fresh, avoiding the fast food) no matter where you go. But for years we've been going to Capurro's near the Dolphin Club. It used to serve fresh fish at a reasonable price and while the prices have gone up, you can still find something freshly frozen on the menu.
In fact, you can have your fish prepared any way you want. "First Choose a Fish," the menu recommends, "Then How It's Prepared." There's salmon, sea bass, petrale sole, sand dabs and snapper to be sauteed, poached, grilled, blackened or charbroiled. You decide.
Our diminutive but gracious host sat us in a comfortable booth. And we had our lunch, a light one. A shrimp louie very nicely dressed and a glass of sauvignon blanc.
When the plates had been whisked away and we were enjoying the last few sips of our cool white wine, we noticed a party of four through the restaurant side window. An older couple and a younger one. Saying goodbye, apparently.
There's a rule of physics, we suspect, to confirm that when you can see people through a window, they can't see you. And, conversely, when you can't see through a window, you can be observed. They were oblivious to this rule, but we were not. So we watched them without fear of discovery.
We can't help imagining who the actors in these little street dramas are, even if we know we're never right. So we quickly presumed the older couple were the girl's parents from their warm and quick embrace. Mom first and then Dad.
It was the boyfriend, though, who most amused us. He stood behind the parents as they lined up to hug their daughter, fumbling with a red digicam to take one last shot of the three of them.
But what a lot of fumbling! What was the problem? A stuck lens cap? A flash popping up insistently? A dead battery?
Before we could tell, the poor guy went down, straight to the ground, out of the window frame (except for the top of his head). Did he drop something? Had something happened to him?
The father and mother moved quickly aside and the girl bent over, her hands flying up to her cheeks.
An emergency, no doubt. The guy must have collapsed.
But the trio around him seemed paralyzed. No one called for help.
Then, suddenly, the girlfriend nodded vigorously and held out her left hand. A second later, the boyfriend sprang up and gave her a huge hug and a kiss. More than one, if you count these things.
Miraculous recovery? No, it was a marriage proposal.
A completely unexpected marriage proposal. When she had recovered from the shock, the girl burst into tears, overcome with emotion. Her mother wrapped her in her arms as her father, who had the presence of mind to take out his camera, continued to take momentous if embarrassing photos.
And then, after another hug and kiss for the boyfriend, perhaps a grateful one, the girl gave him a little closed-fist punch to the shoulder. The sort of affectionate thing royal couples never quite permit themselves.
There were hugs and kisses all around then, congratulations and best wishes. They stood there until the girl regained her composure, which she indicated by punching her new fiancee once more in the same shoulder as they walked away.
We finished our wine with a toast to the newly-engaged couple.
Meanwhile two tall fellows were led to the table opposite ours by the host. "Italian?" he asked. "French," they said. He explained that the cioppino was really bouillabaisse and wished them a good meal. No punches thrown.
We finished up, paid the bill and continued our adventure up the steep hill to Fort Mason and on to the 43 Masonic, our carriage ride home. A long walk that began with a proposal of its own. You may need to know enough to ask for cioppino when you want bouillabaisse but you can be quite happy calling a foreign land home or home an exotic destination worth a few photos.
"Forty-three Masonic to Munich and Geneva," the recording announced as we boarded the bus. And who knows, we thought, on a magical day like this we might still make it to Germany and even Switzerland.
With our camera sufficient luggage for the journey.
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RE: Scanning Speed Over Quality
I've been scouring the Web to find the fastest scanner with a decent-to-excellent scan quality for nothing more than 72 dpi (of course if the scanner goes higher, that is welcome too, but it's not strictly necessary) -- but it's very hard to find any information "out there." The scanner is for use in our local hobby store for scanning kit boxes to put online in the Webshop, so anything above 72 dpi is really overdoing the scanning -- and then I came across your very thorough and detailed site, so I thought you might be the people who could help me with this.
I would be very grateful for your help -- speed over (high) quality would seem to be a subject of interest for any small business owner that needs to scan high volumes of Web-related imagery, but the subject seems to be almost none out there?
-- Rune Midjord Nielsen, Denmark(A couple of thoughts: 1) The preferred resolution for the Web has been increasing as monitors have become finer. The old 72 dpi standard really isn't valid any more with 96 dpi getting long in the tooth itself. Not to say, you shouldn't scan at 72 dpi, but just to point out that the standard has evolved. 2) The fastest way to get product shots on the Web is to photograph them, not scan them. If you do this a lot, setting up a small light tent with two sources of illumination (strobes or light bulbs, it doesn't matter) and a tripod for your camera will do the trick better than a scanner. Not to suggest you shouldn't scan the boxes (even if they are 3D), but that's the approach we'd take -- and probably why you don't find the subject addressed on the Web. 3) Now to answer you, any scanner that does reflective scanning these days does it very well, so there's no quality issue no matter how little you spend. An all-in-one device would be fine (and include a printer). Hope that helps. -- Editor)
RE: Canon MG5220 Transfer Paper
Can sublimation heat transfer paper be used with the Canon MG5220 printer?
-- Kris A(Yes, to the extent any inkjet using dyes can. Which means using those wax-based transfer papers and sticking to light-colored fabrics. -- Editor)
What about using it for heat pressing on to sublimation blanks like ceramic mugs and such?
-- Kris A(No. You need a special dye sublimation ink that at high temperature converts directly from a solid into a gas and is absorbed into the special coating on the mug. I know of no sublimation ink set for Canon inkjets, although there are such things for Epson piezo heads. The preferred solution used to be a dye sublimation printer, which uses ribbons whose dyes migrate into the mug at high temperature as a gas. -- Editor)
RE: Plusek Fan
I'm brand new to Plustek, SilverFast and Imaging Resource. I have an iMac and had a small problem with installing the software.
I emailed Plustek on a weekend and got a call back the next Monday in the afternoon. First, the callback was from the USA! (Yea!) Second, the person was beyond helpful. With his guidance, I got online, downloaded the latest version(s) and went to town setting up workflows for my (very old) Kodachrome slides. He explained everything he told me to do. We scanned the color calibration slide, set up some preferences and scanned slides (which, of course, he couldn't see). We spent almost an hour on the phone and he insisted on staying connected until I was comfortable understanding what "we" were doing. I've never had support like this from anybody except my dearly departed mother.
But, I'm still learning. My first "keeper" scan was 543 meg. Ooops.
Thanks for the review.
-- cr lytle(You're welcome -- and thanks for the nice story. You might want to enter it as a nomination for our Ersatz Nobel Prize for Customer Service. -- Editor)
Epson (http://www.Epson.com) has announced its new 13-inch Stylus Photo R2000 with Epson UltraChrome Hi Gloss 2 inks, the company's latest MicroPiezo AMC print head, AccuPhoto HG screening technology, larger ink cartridges, flexible media handling and Ethernet, Wireless-N and USB 2.0 support.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released Lightroom 3.4 and Camera Raw 6.4 with Raw file support for an additional 13 cameras including Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Nikon D5100 and Fuji FinePix X100 plus over 25 new lens profiles to automatically correct distortion and chromatic aberration.
The company also began shipping Creative Suite 5.5 and released Photoshop v12.0.4 with support for iOS and Android devices. The 12.0.4 update also fixes Liquify performance, type-related crashes and other issues.
Dr. Brown strikes again, too, with a new Image Processor Pro (http://www.russellbrown.com/images/tips_downloads/Services_2.0.9.zip).
Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1379) has released iPhoto 9.1.2 with new card themes, improved stability and some bug fixes.
Fat Cat Software (http://www.fatcatsoftware.com) has released its $19.95 iPhoto Library Manager 3.6.5 with iPhoto 9.1.2 compatibility.
Some people aren't content to just color eggs at Easter, they have to turn them into pinhole cameras (http://www.lomography.com/magazine/lifestyle/2011/04/23/the-pinhegg-my-journey-to-build-an-egg-pinhole-camera).
ElcomSoft researchers have discovered a flaw in the way the 1024-bit secure image signing key is being handled in camera by Nikon's Image Authentication System (http://www.elcomsoft.com/nikon.html).
LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.99 Photo to Movie 4.7.400 [MW] with improved rendering on some older graphics cards, more reliable video playback, shadows in default title styles, improved performance in the media browser, keyboard shortcuts for zooming key frames and other more.
Fifteen years after it was first published, Ctein has released his Post Exposure as a free PDF (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html).
Photivo (http://photivo.org) [LMW] is an open source Raw image processor that has just been ported to OS X.
Agence France-Presse (http://www.afp.com) has announced it has begun using Tungstene forensic software to alert photo editors to manipulated images produced by third party sources and amateur witnesses.
Leica (http://www.leicaakademie.com) has announced the North American debut of its Leica Akademie in 16 cities through the initial 25 workshops starting July 9 in Santa Barbara, Calif. and concluding on Dec. 11 in Miami.
Skarlet Press has published Baghdad Beyond the Wire: Faces from the Fair Garden by David Holland, a collection of his photos from Sadr City and Baghdad. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615447147/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Swiss developer cf/x (http://www.cfxsoftware.com) has released photo mosaic [M] create high quality image-from-images mosaics at a limited-time introductory price of $19.99.
MAC Group (http://www.macgroupus.com) has acquired the Tenba photo bag business and its worldwide patent and trademark portfolio from Robert Weinreb, who founded the company 35 years ago.
Fantasea Line (http://www.fantasea.com) has introduced the Nikon Coolpix P7000 Camera and Housing Set and a complete line of underwater photo accessories specially designed for the FP7000 Housing.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has released Phanfare for Android to upload photos and videos directly to a Phanfare account from an Android smartphone. More features to come, the company promised.
iFixIt has taken apart a Nikon D5100 (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nikon-D5100-Teardown/5271/1).
Light Blue (http://www.lightbluesoftware.com) has released its $455 Photo 3.1 [MW] studio management system for professional photographers with a task manager, new order workflow features, a Status field for contact records, support for adding workflows to contacts, automatic rescheduling of tasks if a shoot date changes, export presets and more.
Karelia (http://www.karelia.com) has released its free iMedia Browser 2.0.1 [M] with support for iPhoto event skimming, Faces in both iPhoto and Aperture, Lightroom 3 Collection groups and bug fixes.
The New York Times will publish Executive Editor Bill Keller's The Inner Lives of Wartime Photographers (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/magazine/mag-08lede-t.html?pagewanted=2&hp).
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher