The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 13, Number 17 26 August 2011

Copyright 2011, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 313th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We crank all sorts of things through Epson's new 13x19 printer before Dan's shooter's report wraps up our GF3 coverage (which began with a technical preview in the June 17 issue). Lots of mail in this issue, too. Enjoy!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please show your appreciation by visiting their links below. And now a word from our sponsors:
S I G M A

Go Splash Proof and Stabilized With Sigma Lenses!

Sigma introduces three new compact and splash-proof lenses:

  • The 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 II DG HSMin wide angle lenses (an arena pioneered by Sigma),
  • The 120-300mm F2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM featuring Sigma's own FLD glassin the telephoto zoom category, and
  • The powerful 150mm F2.8 APO Macro EX DG OS HSM in the prime macro category.

All have been enhanced to include optical stabilization and Sigma's new splash proof design. Coming very soon. Get ready!

Visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?sgm for more information.


Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Epson R2000 -- Wireless 13x19 Printing

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/epson-r2000/ on the Web site.)

The one-hour 4x6 jumbo print may be no more than a memory but that doesn't mean the screen has replaced the print. Screens are lovely, but the ones that are handy are too small and the ones that are big enough aren't portable.

To really enjoy your photography, the answer is a big printer making big prints you can hang on a wall so you can look at them all the time.

There have been a number of low-end 13x19-inch printers over the years, but low-end and high quality don't dance together. They've come and gone.

Meanwhile quality has getting more affordable. Canon's Pro 9000 Mark II is our favorite dye-based ink printer and Epson's R2000 now competes with Canon's excellent Pro 9500 Mark II in the pigment division.

At $499.99 list and as low as $279.99 directly from the company, the Epson Stylus Photo R2000, which replaces the R1900, brings more than just 13x19-inch pigment printing to the party, adding CD, roll and fine art media, UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 inks and WiFi/USB/Ethernet connectivity.

FEATURES

Epson told us that the R2000 includes features previously only found on the company's Pro line. Let's take a look:

TECHNOLOGY

A few of the R2000's features could use a little explanation:

AccuPhoto HG. Epson's AccuPhoto HG image technology was created with the Rochester Institute of Technology's Munsell Color Science Laboratory. The HG stands for High Gloss.

Using an advanced mathematical architecture and screening technology, it optimizes the use of each ink color to maximize color gamut, providing smoother color transitions and ensuring consistent color under different lighting, actually calculating the metameric index.

Epson claims AccuPhoto HG can produce "truly photographic prints" even with high-speed and in lower resolution print modes.

It isn't an option in the print driver, however, unless you let the printer manage color. We never do that, preferring to use an ICC profile in Photoshop for the ink and paper and manipulating color there.

Automatic Ink Density Optimization. The R2000 agitates the inks periodically by shaking the print head back and forth to ensure consistent pigment density and color accuracy. You can do this manually from the Printer Utility, which advised that the process takes 30 seconds. Pigments need a little shake now and then to avoid settling in the ink vehicle and this agitation does that for you.

Ink Set. Yes, it's an eight-color printer but let's do a little math here. Only one of the blacks will be printing (that's seven) and Gloss Optimizer isn't a color so much as a resin coating (that's six). Yellow, Cyan and Magenta are basic (although improved for gamut in this ink set), so we're really only looking at two additions to the basic four-color set: Red and Orange.

Red we've seen before. It's a tough one to emulate, requiring equal dosages of magenta and yellow. Epson has supplied a true red pigment, saving on magenta and yellow. It's usually paired with Green.

But Orange? Epson claims it helps render true-to-life skin tones and browns.

Epson told us Gloss Optimizer is not a clear coat but "a spackle for your prints." It's a special resin technology that coats each of the photographic inks except for Matte Black. Since those inks are already glossy, Gloss Optimizer only goes where they don't. It fills in the gaps on the sheet to guarantee the print is evenly glossy. And it has a very smooth glossy feel to it as well that makes it feel like a chemically processed print (minus the smell).

PRINTING

We printed heavily edited images on a variety of media for several weeks. But the first thing we did was let the printer sit for a week. We wanted to know if it would clock.

We did seem to take an ink hit when we finally did turn it back on. After just four prints, we checked the ink usage and found it down about 15 percent. Which is pretty high usage.

We also noticed that the printer is pretty energetic. Unlike other 13x19 printers we've tested, the R2000 really made our work table rock while it was charging the cartridges. When actually printing, it was much more subdued, however.

Glossy Prints. We started with a couple of images we captured at the San Francisco Marathon. Both images printed perfectly the first time. We did make the mistake of selecting an 8x10 paper size in the printer driver for the letter sized sheet, but that only aligned the image on the page as if it were smaller.

Luster Prints. We weren't as happy with our luster prints. They were muddy and lacked vibrance, a common complaint about pigment inks in comparison to dye inks. But by now we knew we were printing on letter-sized paper so they were positioned perfectly.

Velvet Fine Art. Our preference lately has been to print on matte papers so we were anxious to try the Velvet Fine Art sheets. Until now, we'd been printing through the sheet feeder in the back. But Velvet Fine Art is a thick sheet. One side of it has been sized for inkjet printing, so you do have to make sure that's facing up as you load it. It's the whiter side, Epson says, but we found that hard to detect. Instead we used the Glossy paper orientation as a guide: the printing side faces up in the pack as you read the instructions.

But where to load it? We were really puzzled.

The spec sheet that accompanies the paper insists you load the sheet "in the manual feed slot only." There are two of these on the R2000. One is the single-sheet feeder you hook onto the back of the printer. The other is the front feed slot which also accommodates the CD tray.

We stumbled around the driver trying to find a sheet size option that would let us also select Velvet Fine Art Paper. And we mistakenly thought we had to load it from the front (because it's thick). When we realized we could load it from the rear, we found the letter size rear manual feed option and all was well.

Feeding the paper into the rear manual feed slot is a bit tricky. Our tendency was to simply drop it in and go back to the computer to print. But no. You do drop it in but you have to push it down until you feel it stop and hold it there until the R2000 grabs it and pulls it in. That takes a few seconds while the R2000 thinks it over.

Fortunately Epson provides a set of videos that walk you through the fine art feed process at http://www.epson.com/support/R2000.

We also tried a color image on Velvet Fine Art and again got an error message that the paper type and feed didn't match. We'd changed nothing at all except the image. Even after confirming we had the rear manual feed slot selected for Velvet Fine Art, we got the same error. Weird.

Um, not so weird. We were out of paper. The rear slot only takes one sheet at a time, so you have to reload with every Print command.

Roll Paper. We had an old 4-inch roll of Epson Glossy Photo Paper but the R2000 documentation only mentions larger sizes. Roll paper, however, requires you to set up a custom paper size, so we wondered if we might not just try a couple panoramas on it anyway.

We managed to load the paper using the roll ends, fitting the holders into slots obviously designed for the 4-inch rolls.

Again, we had to push the front of the roll into the printer until it hit a stop and the R2000 grabbed it and pulled it in.

Epson videos on loading roll paper are at http://www.epson.com/support/R2000.

Next we set up a custom paper size for the roll at 4x19 inches, the size of our Sony TX10 images. We made one change to our Print settings (telling the driver it was a roll) and off the R2000 went, printing our panorama.

We had to feed the roll out a bit and grab a pair of scissors to cut off our panorama, but we had a nice 4x19-inch print of a Sony iSweep panorama of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite.

Emboldened by our success we tried another pano. But we got a feed error. It turns out you have to press the Roll button on the printer to retract the paper roll before it will print again. That saves you paper, so it isn't a bad thing. But you do have to be told about it.

When you're done printing from the roll, you hold the Roll button in for three seconds and the R2000 rewinds the paper onto the roll so you can just lift it off. Very nice.

11x14. We'd taken a series of shots of the Angel of Grief on the Stanford campus and wanted to print them on 11x14 glossy. Epson had supplied its Premium Photo Paper Glossy in that size, so we loaded the normal paper feed with a few sheets, pulling out the extensions to support the large paper size.

While our previous prints had been done from Photoshop, we did these from Lightroom, creating a custom user template for the 11x14 size.

No problems. The prints were everything we'd hoped.

In fact, when we laid a 10x magnifier over the highlights of our 11x14 print of a crop of a Micro Four Thirds image on Epson Premium Photo Glossy, we could barely detect the screen pattern. It looked a lot more like grain when viewed through a grain focuser at the enlarger. With the naked eye, it was impossible to detect.

We had printed it at just 138 ppi, too, to fill the sheet.

Disc Printing. Epson provides a software application for printing on CDs called Print CD. It works with a number of Epson printers, so the first thing it does is collect information from your printer about its capabilities. Then it displays a CD outline in a window for you to decorate with a design along with a set of windows.

Along with the application, Epson supplies a large selection of backgrounds and clip art to use on your CD. The basic background area is 879x879 pixels, although some of the backgrounds are 1260x891.

You can also use your own images, which will be scaled to fit the shortest dimension on the disc. You can also scale the disc mask to the image, moving it around a larger image for a better crop.

With a background placed on the layout, you can add text.

We just popped the PDF cover image of our book A Visit to Yosemite (http://www.mikepasini.com/yosemite/ebook.php) onto the CD and printed.

Loading a CD is pretty straightforward. Just drop the printable CD blank onto the spindle in the holder. An adapter is included for smaller discs. Then open the front feeder door and slide the tray into the slot until the arrows on the front edge are aligned with the arrows on the tray itself. Simple.

The Print dialog is complex but we didn't seem to need to do anything there, so we just hit print. And the CD quickly printed. It seemed dry by the time we touched it, too. So we burned it. But Epson cautions that you may have to wait up to 24 hours for the ink to dry.

Everything worked the first time and was simple enough to do. The results? We were pretty pleased. The type was sharp and the image clear.

13x19. The real advantage of a 13x19 printer is to print 13x19 photos. And here the game ranges from glossy to fine art surfaces. Epson offers a healthy selection, although we only printed on Epson's Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster finish.

Our 12-Mp images are 4288x2848 pixels. At 240 pixels per inch, a rather generous allotment, they scale to 17.867x11.8676 inches, leaving a bit of a border on a 13x19 sheet.

We don't usually print with that much data. And with AccuPhoto HG we presumably had even less of a reason to stay that high. But for our first bleed 13x19 we simply let the driver scale the image 105 percent.

The results were quite pleasing. Images were crisp and color was faithful. A joy to behold, in fact. A big joy at 13x19, too.

Black and White. Our first Velvet Fine Art print, a black and white conversion from color, was a bit too dark. Very heavily saturated with ink as well. We made a slight curves adjustment to lighten it and tried again.

That did the trick.

But with only one black ink, the R2000 uses color to enrich the tonality of the image. We detected both cyan and magenta at the edge of the image, so we suspect it's printing a quadtone. Still it seemed well balanced (neither cool nor warm).

Finally, we printed a color image of some zebras as a black and white on Premium Glossy. The black and white print was noticeably cool, although the subtle tonal gradations were well preserved. That may have been the brighteners in the paper itself, however.

We were impressed with the quadtone monocolor printing of the R2000, but we prefer to use multiple gray inks for that job. A permanent, hidden prejudice of ours, perhaps.

Flesh Tones. The orange ink is tuned to flesh tones, so we gave that a shot, too.

We printed an outdoor shot in full sunlight of three people of various ethnic backgrounds and we were just delighted with the results. The skin tones were all naturally rendered, well handled in the shadows as well as the highlights, from the ruddy complexion to the dark one.

Then we printed another outdoor shot under an overcast sky, a profile of five sisters. The original image was captured by a Nikon S8000 at ISO 320. It was oversaturated, both the flesh tones and the greenery behind the subjects. We minimized that in Photoshop but printers tend to punch up color, so we were worried about it when we sent the image to the R2000.

Pigment printers, on the other hand, are more subdued than their dye-based brethren. Not a great choice if you're work is sunsets. But the pigments did a great job on the sisters and the orange ink did indeed yield very smooth gradations of skin tone on the 11x14 print.

Brave man, you might think, making a print of five women at once. If the color had not been stunning, you might not be reading this review right now.

But, we wondered, was this noticeably better than what the Canon Pro9500 Mark II can do?

To answer the question we reprinted a portrait of three women in restaurant light taken with an Oympus PEN E-PL1. It's a favorite of ours for its warm tones and vibrant skin tones.

The Pro9500 uses a completely different palette of inks including a light gray, photo magenta, photo cyan, red and green, in addition to the usual four (CMYK). That, we thought, might penalize it when it came to these skin tones.

But to our surprise the prints were indistinguishable from each other. And that despite the Canon print was on Kodak porous paper with a semi-gloss finish while the Epson print was on Premium Glossy.

CONCLUSION

We enjoyed our sessions with the Epson Stylus Photo R2000. Even more, we enjoyed the prints it made.

The R2000 brings a few unique capabilities to the party of 13x19 pigment printers. It's wireless, prints on roll paper and can handle disc printing. We found a use for all of those features.

Like other medium-format pigment printers, it can handle a wide range of media from the typical glossy print to art papers. That versatility isn't a luxury on a printer designed for serious work.

Our only quibbles with the R2000 were 1) its design, which seems a bit too delicate, and 2) the complexity of the driver. The design is something we've complained about before with Epson printers and have to admit hasn't actually been an issue (no failures). And the complexity is really complaining about a benefit, after all.

The one black ink is not a formula for subtle black and white work. If you have a printer with several tones of gray or important shadow detail, a set of gray inks would do a better job than the quadtones of the R2000.

But the flesh tones were very nicely rendered indeed if not significantly improved over the R2000's chief competitor, the Canon Pro9500 Mark II.

Output was stunning, yes, but we've been stunned before. It's happy hunting if you're in the market for a 13x19 pigment printer.

And in that market the Epson Stylus Photo R2000 merits our highest recommendation for color pigment printing.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Panasonic GF3 -- Love at First Click

By DAN HAVLIK
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF3/DMCGF3A.HTM on the Web site.)

Panasonic has done an interesting thing with the new 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-GF3. It's even smaller and more streamlined than the previous model with some of the external buttons and controls are stripped off. Even the hot shoe is gone. Overall, the GF3 has a more consumer look and feel than its predecessor, the GF2.

I find this interesting because the common perception of these Compact System Cameras -- small, mirrorless cameras that use small interchangeable lenses -- is that they're for advanced amateurs, enthusiasts and prosumer photographers. That definitely seemed the case with the GF2, which was slender and compact but had a boxy design that recalled classic rangefinder models. The original GF1 had an even more traditional "analogue" design. The slightly rounded and petite GF3 is more apt to remind you of advanced point-and-shoot models like the Canon S95, Olympus XZ-1 or Panasonic's own LX5.

By creating a smaller, more potentially consumer-friendly interchangeable lens camera with the GF3, Panasonic is clearly hoping to draw a larger audience to its CSC models, which, while they have found a devoted niche of earlier adopters, are just starting to enter the mainstream. At the same time, the more family-friendly style of the GF3 might turn off experienced photographers who like their gear to be "serious."

ON THE STREET

While carrying the GF3 around for a few days of street shooting in New York City, I felt like I was wearing "almost nothing at all," as the saying goes. The GF3 is not only lightweight, it's a rather inconspicuous-looking camera which makes it ideal for candid images. Most people will probably think it's just a casual snapshooter (unless you get the red one).

What also helps is that the GF3's autofocus speed is fast. Our lab clocked the GF3 with the 14mm kit lens at 0.312 second for full autofocus in single area AF mode and 0.310 second in multi-area AF mode, making it one of the fastest CSC models on the market. That's impressive, especially because these types of cameras with their creaky Contrast Detection-based autofocus systems have been notorious slowpokes. Thankfully that's changed with cameras such as the GH2, GF3, Sony NEX-C3 and the Olympus PEN E-P3. Finally the CSC category has cameras that can compete in autofocus speed with dSLRs, even prosumer-level dSLRs.

At the same time, the GF3 showed some of its point-and-shoot roots with a below average start-up to first shot speed of nearly two seconds. That's almost a full second slower than the GF2. The GF3's shot-to-shot times of 0.65 second were good for a CSC but not quite as speedy as a dSLR. In its High Speed Continuous mode, the GF3 bested the GF2, recording 3.46 fps (slightly slower than the specified 3.8 fps, but still pretty fast for the category). Mode switching on the GF3 was reasonably fast and it only takes 0.2 second to display an image already shot.

Perhaps the best thing about the GF3, though, is that I never felt I had to wait for it to focus on what I was shooting. When trying to inconspicuously photograph people on the street at what French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once called "the decisive moment," it's important your camera be swift, silent and accurate. While Cartier-Bresson didn't enjoy the benefits of such quick autofocus -- he was more of a manual focus, Leica rangefinder type of guy -- you will love it on the GF3. The camera also focused quickly and effectively in low light. That's a big plus because while the GF3 has a small, pop-up flash, it's rather weak and you probably won't use it often. And there's no hot shoe on the GF3 for attaching an external flash.

The GF3's built-in flash pops up with a rather erratic clatter, but settles into the right position well enough. It may not be very powerful, but it's fine as a fill for portraits. It also does fairly well in close-up, low-light portraits. (I wouldn't recommend using it in a pitch-dark room though.) In our lab testing, the flash performed well in the center at up to 8.3 feet. Overall, though, the flash tested to be very center heavy, falling off rapidly toward the edges.

SIZE

The benefit of the GF3's small size is it's easy to transport, whether in your coat pocket while walking the streets of New York or in your carry-on bag for your trip to Acapulco. The downside is it makes the GF3 hard to hold comfortably. This is exacerbated by the camera's tiny grip, which I could only wrap two fingers around. Holding onto the GF3 is something of a challenge for anyone with large hands and its tiny body and consumer-style interface is bound to turn off more serious photographers. Include me as someone who wishes Panasonic also made a slightly bigger and more professional version of the GF3. Call it the GF3-P?

The GF3 is definitely a camera you wouldn't want to drop since its lightweight, polycarbonate body would certainly be damaged. Our advice is to use a wrist strap or the included neck strap to better secure the GF3 in most active shooting situations.

As a colleague put it, once you take the GF3 out for a spin, it's pretty much love at first click. I brought the GF3 along to shoot some of my favorite neighborhood haunts and was immediately impressed by its speed and image quality. Another big plus is the GF3's 3-inch, 460,000-dot-resolution LCD touchscreen, which is one of the best I've tried on a small camera. Since there is no optical viewfinder on the GF3, you'll be leaning entirely on the live preview of the GF3's display to compose your shots. The decision to leave off a hot shoe helps makes the GF3 smaller and lighter but it also leaves out the possibility of adding an optical or electronic viewfinder accessory.

This is not as big a sacrifice as you might think, thanks to the high quality of the GF3's LCD screen. I would have appreciated an articulating or tilting screen on the GF3. At the very least, being able to tilt the LCD up would've really helped its usage as a waist-level viewfinder. That way, you could keep the camera at your belly so as not to attract attention and compose your shots just by tilting the camera.

Also, I'm still not crazy about the touchscreen capabilities Panasonic has been putting into its cameras. This is somewhat a matter of taste and there are likely many photographers out there who might enjoy this touch functionality. I'm not sold on it yet. It all seems more trouble than it's worth, including the interesting but seemingly unnecessary Touch Shutter. I kept inadvertently taking pictures of the sidewalk or walls with Touch Shutter on and ended up turning this feature off.

CH-CH-CHANGES

Though it relies more on the touchscreen interface, the GF3 only lost two controls from the GF3: the Rear dial and its button (you pressed down on the dial for confirmation). To change mode and display settings, you can either toggle through the menus or use the LCD's touchscreen overlay. There's no Mode dial on the GF3 but there is a physical rotary dial integrated into the navigator to scroll through menus and make adjustments. If you're used to changing important settings such as specialty modes and ISO on the fly, the GF3 can take some practice.

I like that the camera still has the dedicated red Movie button on top of the camera near the shutter, which immediately starts video recording. Incidentally the GF3 has similar movie capture capabilities to the GF2 including Full HD (1,080i/1920x1080 pixel) or 720p (1280x720 pixel) video capture in AVCHD format at 17Mbps, as well as for Motion JPEG capture at 720p resolution or below. Recording rates are unchanged. NTSC models offer either 30 frames per second for Motion JPEG, 60 frames per second for 720p AVCHD or 60 fields per second for 1,080i AVCHD, all captured from 30 frames per second sensor data. A few of the GF2's recording modes have been deleted, however, namely the 13 Mbps 1080i FH and 13 Mbps 720p H modes in AVCHD and WVGA mode in Motion JPEG.

The major difference on the GF3 relates to its audio recording. Panasonic's replaced the GF2's stereo internal microphone with a monaural mic, which is sure to irk some video buffs who want their movies in stereo. On the plus side, the maximum movie record times on a charge have been improved slightly. Where the GF2 was good for 120 to 130 minutes of video capture, the GF3 gives you 130 to 150 minutes. That's per-charge, though; AVCHD video length is limited to 13 hours 3 minutes 20 seconds on NTSC models and 29 minutes 59 seconds on PAL models to meet CE standards. Motion JPEGs are also limited to 2-GB clips.

Then there's the dedicated Intelligent Auto button on top of the camera. While some photographers might see this as another consumer-centric feature, I liked having the button as an all-purpose settings override. I spend a lot of time tweaking settings while shooting and the IA button is a good way to bring the GF3 back to its general, all-purpose mode when a quick, candid photo op presents itself. Intelligent Auto is designed to pick the best scene mode/setting for the shooting situation and while it's not always accurate, it's good in a pinch.

Overall though, I think making so many of the adjustments menu-based was a mistake by Panasonic. I've felt the way about Sony's NEX CSC models as well. I've been shooting with the GF3 for about a month and still find myself fumbling with settings and button presses when I want to change something simple. Not to mention, the touchscreen control just makes everything worse.

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS

Wheeling through the various specialty settings on the GF3 is a chore, partially because adjustments are all menu-based and partially because of how the menus are organized. The Creative Control adjustments are where you'll probably spend most of your time, if you can get to them. Since there's no Mode dial, you need to press either the Menu button at the center of the navigation cluster or the Quick Menu button below that to launch either the Menu or the Quick menu, both of which work differently.

Several animations play as you switch between modes. When in a hurry, I'd love the option to ditch the animations and get to the controls. By the end of my testing, I started to get the hang of the virtual Mode dial but I still wasn't crazy about it. There seems little reason that it should be arranged in a circle, except to emulate a Mode dial, and it makes dialing in the modes just one step more difficult.

The virtual Mode dial hosts Creative Control under the palette and brush icon, providing access to six effects: Expressive (pop-art style), Retro (soft, tarnished effect), High Key (brighter image), Sepia, High Dynamic (localized color and contrast enhancement) and Miniature Effect (linear graduated blur toward the edges of the image). I had the most success with Expressive for pumping up drab settings with punchy color and High Dynamic, which did a fairly good job of evening out exposure. Overall though, Panasonic's special effects are a step behind more robust art filters sets such as those offered on Olympus' latest PEN cameras.

The Film Mode function from previous Panasonic cameras has been renamed to Photo Style. This offers a selection of six presets, plus a Custom mode, each of which can be tweaked in terms of contrast, sharpness, saturation (except in Monochrome mode, where it is replaced with a color tone adjustment) and noise reduction. Presets include Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery and Portrait.

There are also 17 Scene modes including everything from Portrait to Sunset to Party mode. City folk will like Architecture, in which features and details in buildings and structures appear sharper. It also offers an overlay of guidelines to check the horizontal and vertical axes. If you like delving into these specialty modes, prepare to spend a lot of time jumping from menu to menu to get the effect you want.

And that's the conundrum of the GF3. There's a lot to like with this camera including its lighting fast autofocus and good image quality overall, but you may find yourself getting frustrated with the decidedly beginner-focus of this camera. For all its upgrades, these limitations are enough to make you miss the more manual and straightforward approach of Panasonic's earlier models in this line. If you can get used to the GF3's quirks, though, you just may love this little sharpshooter.

SAMPLE IMAGES

You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF3/DMCGF3A7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF3/DMCGF3GALLERY.HTM.

CONCLUSION

For all its benefits, including its fast autofocus system and small, highly portable design, the 12-Mp Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 is liable to divide users.

On the one hand, it fulfills the promise of Micro Four Thirds sensor technology by offering a high-quality picture-taking device tiny enough to fit in a coat pocket. With its impressively sharp, 14mm f2.5 lens, the GF3 is perfect for street photography.

But some photographers who loved the GF3's more serious-looking predecessors might not enjoy the new camera's more consumer style. It's also a devilish camera to adjust quickly, with many of its key functions buried in several different menu systems.

While the GF3 is not without its quirks, there's a lot to like in this blazingly fast little sharpshooter. Its quick autofocus means it's more often ready to catch the action. Meanwhile, the gorgeous 3.0-inch LCD screen provides a crisp live preview and sharp playback. Love or hate the stripped down design, there's no denying the GF3 is one of the better CSC models on the market, making it a Dave's Pick.

Return to Topics.

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:

Return to Topics.

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 Pentax K-5 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeb3e2d/0

Visit the Panasonic Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f

A user asks about the Panasonic DMC-ZS10 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeb52d1/0

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

Return to Topics.

Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

Support this Publication!

Visit the IR PriceGrabber Page twice a year!

Support this Publication!

Visit Amazon from this link!

Return to Topics.

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: Black & White

I just got the new Kodak Easyshare Max Z990. While I understand that Kodak is not revered as a camera vendor, IR should really take a look at what Kodak has done. For one thing, the Z990 allows "Film Effects" including T-Max emulation which allows the camera to take black and white pics as if you had the most famous B&W film ever in your camera. No need to worry about grayscale, the photog can let his creative eye do its thing.

It also allows emulation of other famous films, Kodachrome, Ectachrome and even Sepia.

My Nikkormat EL and its lenses are gathering dust and my creative juices are flowing again.

-- Ted Wolek

(Save those lenses, Ted! They'll work just fine on Nikon's dSLRs. We use our old 35mm on a D200 all the time and love it.... The reason you don't see recent Kodak camera reviews is image quality and autofocus performance, which have not been competitive. We do keep looking at them, though.... Jardine's technique using the Black and White sliders in Camera Raw and Lightroom (and Photoshop) control more parts of the spectrum than filters can. It's a fascinating way to play with the color data in an image.... As for film emulation, we're reviewing a product that offers 60 emulsion renderings for any color JPEG. Including T-Max and Kodachrome at several speeds. We actually sat down with a Kodak emulsion expert to review the renderings and he pronounced them credible (down to their faults). So exciting stuff indeed for our creative juices. -- Editor)

OMG! How to make something so simple so complicated!

I discovered years ago that a typical color print used various colors to parade as "contrast" to our human eyes. A shot with brilliant red, green and blue looks great, but when converted by any simple "Convert to Grayscale" type of program, they sucked.

The problem is that these images did not use the full 0-255 spectrum. This is also true for many native B&W images from my father and grandfathers that did what they could with their negatives and graded papers.

All one needs to do is take an image and do an Autocontrast or a manual adjustment with Curves -- no 'spensive PhotoShop required -- in any program. Then, convert to grayscale.

Now, I'm not saying that by doing hard work with colors and layers a better result may not be had, but for 99 percent of us 99 percent of the time, my system works perfectly.

-- Paul Verizzo

(OK, Paul, for your punishment, watch the video <g>. The technique we described is about having creative control over the tonal contrast. You can darken that yellow, or set it off against that green. Just bumping up the overall contrast isn't going to do that. And when you play with the half dozen or so sliders that individually move the tone darker or lighter, the image starts to bloom in new ways. That's the fun part. It isn't about getting a credible black and white rendering. It's about shifting the tonal contrast using the color information. -- Editor)

RE: Travel Tips

Thanks for the great Beginners Flash Travel section using camera phones, it was very informative. I'm a pilot for a large corporate fleet and often travel around the world as both a crew member and passenger. All your phone camera tips were great ... you even had a few I never thought of.

However, the one big one you missed was to take pictures of your important documents, like your passport, drivers license and even credit cards, etc. (make sure you password secure your phone if the latter is included). This way if they go missing, you at least have something to use to get you home in a pinch.

-- Mike McCook

(Thanks for the tips, Mike! -- Editor)

RE: Batch Copy to Dated Folder

I have enjoyed and recommended your newsletter for years and thought this batch file may be of some interest. It's a Window's text file copy of a batch. It uses the free ExifTool but I haven't tried it with versions of ExifTool newer than 8.09.

Setup:

  1. Download text file: http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/archive/v13/p2d.txt

  2. Place the text file anyplace and change its extension to ".bat."

  3. Place a shortcut to it on your desktop or any place desired.

Use:

  1. Take a folder of photos and drop it onto the shortcut icon.

  2. The result will be, added within the original folder, new folders named by the date the photos were taken (YYYY-MM-DD) with the original photos copied into the dated folders. The original photos are not modified.

The batch can easily be edited to change the name being given to the new folders. In fact it could be changed to ask the user what title is desired for the folders before processing begins.

-- Eric Bloch

(Thanks, Eric! Should safe to upgrade ExifTool, although not necessary either <g>. ExifTool is just grabbing the DateTimeOriginal Exif Tag. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

"We started Gigwalk (http://gigwalk.com) during the Great Recession, turning people's smartphones into a second paycheck and instantly connecting businesses to talented people with an iPhone," the company explains. Visit the site to post a gig or see what needs to be shot where you are at the moment.


Sony has announced two new Translucent Mirror-based cameras (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1314162119.html), the Sony A77 (which replaces the Alpha A700) and the Sony A65 (which shares much of its flagship sibling's DNA at a more affordable price).

The company also added two stunning new models to its NEX line with the 24.3-Mp NEX-7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1314162111.html) that can shoot up to 10 fps and the NEX-5N (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1314162105.html). The NEX line also gets an Alpha mount lens adapter which enables phase detection autofocus.


Nikon has announced the Coolpix P7100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1314158490.html) with a more responsive user interface, shorter startup time, improved shutter lag, an articulated LCD and more. Additionally, the AW100 is its first all-weather Coolpix and four other compacts have been added to the roster.


Panasonic has announced three new Lumix digicams: the GF3X with a Power Zoom lens (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/GF3X/GF3XA.HTM), the FZ150 super-zoom and the FX90.


Adobe Labs (http://www.adobelabs.com) has posted release candidates of Lightroom 3.5 and Camera Raw (including DNG Converter). In addition to support for new cameras (including the GF3 reviewed above), the updates include a number of bug fixes.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has announced its $299.99 MG8220 and $199.99 MG6220 Wireless Photo multifunction devices, plus Cloud Link to print Google Docs and Gmail attachments. Both printers feature Canon's Intelligent Touch System and the ability to print on CD/DVD media. The new devices are not AirPrint compatible.


Epson (http://www.epson.com) has introduced its Stylus Pro 3880 Signature Worthy Edition, which combines its 17-inch Stylus Pro 3880 printer with six full letter-sized packs of select Epson Signature Worthy papers.


Mikkel Aaland has published his $34.99 Creating Dynamic Slideshows with FotoMagico & Photoshop (https://partner.video2brain.com/mikkelaaland/courses.htm), a 1h50m DVD produced with FotoMagico to go beyond "the mold of simple sequenced images." Get a sneak peak at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r90QMuU6z8


LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) has released SilverFast 8 with a new WorkflowPilot, enhanced user interface, multi-tasking during scanning, multiple monitor support and more.


Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com) has released a second public beta of Photo Mechanic to address Lion compatibility and add support for Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic GF2/GH2 Raw files.


Fascinating Photography (http://www.fascinatingphotography.net) is a new monthly PDF fine art photography e-magazine. Each issue showcases three fine art photographers with two or three in-depth feature articles to inspire both photographers and collectors.


New York Times photographer Doug Mills shows how to shoot stills and video simultaneously using a common piece of photo gear (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/shooting-twice-at-once/?scp=1&sq=doug%20mills%20clemens&st=cse).


Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released GraphicConverter 7.3.1 [M] with optional Auto Save & Versions on Mac OS X 10.7, display of location data in the GPS window, an option to darken unselected parts of an image, support for more Exif tags and more.


Chic Canvas (http://www.chiccanvas.com) converts your 300 dpi image into a canvas print within a week. Sizes range from 8x10 to 40x60 and prices from $79 to $461.


Gary Fong (http://www.garyfongestore.com) has announced a GearGuard product line and a new TSA-approved travel lock to secure Canon or Nikon photo gear while shooting or traveling. The $49.95 GearGuard Basic Kit includes a camera body lock, two large bag locks and a 36-inch cable and TSA-approved combination lock. The $89.95 GearGuard Pro Kit adds an addition 36-inch cable with combo lock and a lens lock.


Nauticam (http://www.nauticamusa.com) has announced its $1,750 ergonomic underwater housing for the Panasonic Lumix GF2 providing a depth rating of 100 meters.


The Plugin Site (http://www.ThePluginSite.com) has released the MacOS X version of NoiseControl with sharpening, saturation and grain features for enhancing the image after denoising.


George Eastman House (http://www.eastmanhouse.org) opens The Unseen Eye Oct. 1 with over 500 images from the collection of W.M. Hunt.


The Boston Center for Adult Education (http://www.bcae.org) will hold its $175 Take a Shot: A Digital Photography Symposium about the many styles and techniques involved in digital photography on Sept. 17.


Rocky Nook (http://rockynook.com) has announced the first three titles in its newest imprint, edition espresso, little books that keep the content short, strong and to the point -- like a shot of espresso. Titles at $22.95 include The Perfect Photo: 71 Tips from the Top by Elin Rantakrans and Tobias Hagberg, Nature and Landscape Photography: 71 Tips from the Top by Margin Borg and Buying the Right Photo Equipment: 71 Tips from the Top by Elin Rantakrans.


Lewis Hine (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/lewis-hine-photographer-activist-character/?hp) will break your heart.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.0.54 [LMW] with fixes for Epson scanners and HP multifunctions on Mac OS X, a fix for Mac OS X and Linux system hangs and a fix for Nikon film strips under six frames.

Return to Topics.

One Liners

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

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

Return to Topics.

Signoff

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

Happy snapping!

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

Go to Imaging Resource Home | News | Tips | Digital Camera Index | Scanner Index