The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 13, Number 24 2 December 2011

Copyright 2011, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 320th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We give the faster, simpler DxO Optics Pro a try while Shawn walks the streets in NYC with the Nikon J1. Then we detail our experience using Carousel on an iPad for a few weeks. Put your feet up and 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:
P E N T A X

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N I K O N

The amazing Nikon 1: Small is now huge

Huge is unbelievably fast
Huge is incredibly intuitive
Huge is remarkably versatile
Huge is delightfully stylish
Huge is surprisingly small
Small is now Huge

Introducing the Nikon 1 (click for the rest of this huge story): http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?n1s

S O N Y

The New Sony NEX-5N Camera

"Incredible! It's like a DSLR camera that fits in my pocket."

  • Up to 10 fps shooting to capture fast action
  • Exmor™ APS-C HD CMOS image sensor for 16.1-Mp resolution
  • The performance of a DSLR in about half the size and weight

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T A M R O N

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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: DxO Optics Pro -- Faster, Simpler

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/DxOv7/optics-pro.htm on the Web site.)

Just a few months ago in June, DxO (http://www.dxo.com) unveiled Optics Pro 6.6 to the world just as we were touching up our review of v6.5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/DxOv6/optics-pro.htm).

We had a hard time catching up to them then and it isn't getting any easier. This time the French firm has jumped to v7 with some impressive improvements:

Along with those have come improved stability and more camera modules joining features we've long appreciated in Optics Pro, including its Raw converter, noise removal, single shot HDR exposure control, optical corrections, color control and the DxO FilmPack plug-in.

After updating our FilmPack review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/FP3/filmpack-3.htm) to cover the company's earlier release of v3.1 (these guys must never sleep), we installed a beta copy of Optics Pro 7 a few days ago and gave it a whirl. Or it gave us a whirl, we should say.

SPEED

The previous version already tapped into GPU processing to speed things up, but DxO rewrote 50 percent of Optics Pro to optimize the code, implementing some of it in Open CL, which uses the graphics processing unit for non-graphical computing.

That, the company said, had two benefits. It improved stability and it sped up processing by a factor of four. Those are two things you'll actually notice.

It's particularly obvious with Raw processing. Applying a Preset to an image is observably faster.

The very first time we ran v7, we hadn't set the Preference to use Open CL processing (in fact, for some strange reason it was grayed out). Changing presets seemed to start around 80 percent done in the little dialog box Optics Pro flashes over the image.

Then we enabled Open CL and we no longer got the dialog box. OK, once on a NEF (the first time we applied a preset to any NEF, we had a delay slight enough to pop the dialog box on the screen for a second). Never on an ORF.

IMAGE MANAGEMENT

The new image management features threw us at first. We stumbled around the interface looking for a way to import an image. The old Select button was gone.

Instead, a popup in the right column lets you select Folders to navigate for images. You can alternately create Projects in that column, too.

And you can not only create but also rename, move and copy images organized in Optics Pro. You don't have to jump to the operating system for those services any more.

Clicking on a folder in the right panel shows its contents in the filmstrip panel along the bottom. Click on an image for direct access to it.

A contextual menu available from the image allows you to rename it on the disk, create a virtual copy, perform common operations like rotation or even process it.

Projects have some unique advantages. You can organize your images logically (by project or client job) rather than by filename or camera or whatever your disk hierarchy is. You can apply different sets of corrections to the same image. Projects also track history.

But with Optics Pro 7, you have the much simpler direct access to images and even drag-and-drop simplicity, as DxO explains on its site (http://www.dxo.com/intl/photo/dxo_optics_pro/whats_new/workflow).

You don't usually see a workflow concept reworked like this. Developers tend to remain devoted to their original conceptions. But DxO has rethought how to access images in Optics Pro and it's a simpler workflow. Kudos.

Although, we have to admit we went back to Projects for this review. It was a lot easier to gather the disparate images we wanted to test in one virtual place for reference than it was to hunt them down from session to session. So Kudos Squared for leaving Projects in there, too.

WORKFLOW

But enhancements don't stop there. Instead of the Select, Customize, Process, View workflow of v6.6, the new workflow is just Organize, Customize and Process, simplifying the first step in the process.

Window panes have been reworked to provide that filmstrip along the bottom with horizontal scrolling (which worked much better than the FilmPack version, BTW). Like FilmPack, the filmstrip can also be resized to make your thumbnails larger.

The crop tool grid now has a 1/3 grid display to help with Rule of Thirds compositions.

You can reset any slider with a double click and control them with a mouse wheel. We weren't able to confirm that, however. Our mouse wheel scrolls and double clicks did nothing.

DxO also noted that full screen mode is more accessible, settings are automatically saved in the background, zoom is centered on the cursor, recent locations are preserved and batch processing is more flexible.

IMPROVEMENTS

Along with the workflow refinements, a number of significant improvements (by which we mean, "Yippee!" because they do matter) to the program's functionality have been introduced in this version. Among them:

Improved Lens Softness Correction. Lenses vary in sharpness across the scene they capture with the center of the image typically sharper than the corners. The effect varies through the aperture range, but it's almost always there, although it isn't always significant.

In the last few years a number of cameras have included sharpening routines even on Raw image data to obscure this phenomenon but it's always there.

Optics Pro now includes a similar function to automatically and uniformly sharpen an image taken with a supported camera and lens combination. In addition to the camera and lens combination, the function also considers capture parameters like ISO, focal length, focusing distance, aperture and others. It also considers scene content to avoid creating noise in uniform zones like the sky and to preserve bokeh.

And, as with other tools in the Optics Pro bag, you can manually adjust the effect for sharper or softer results.

Edge Offset Slider in USM. If your gear hasn't been profiled by DxO, all is not lost. You can perform non-uniform sharpening using the Unsharp Mask's new Edge Offset slider.

By kicking up the Edge Offset, you can sharpen the corners without oversharpening the center of the image. In our close-up shot of some tiles on a staircase, we moved it to 202 units to get more uniform sharpness across the image of an Olympus E-PL1 shot and it sprang to life.

Saturated Color Protection. Under Color Rendering, the Protect Saturated Colors control has been improved to restore depth and texture in saturated colors while leaving unsaturated colors alone.

We set the control completely off with Saturation increased noticeably on a shot of a magenta dahlia against a blurred but colored background. The result was typical of oversaturating any image. But with the control set at 100, we saw texture restored to the dahlia with brighter petals while the background remained nicely blurred and the colors cleaned very subtly.

The protection keeps unsaturated or mildly saturated colors from being affected like the very saturated colors in the image. DxO said it's mostly visible on Raw images or DxO FilmPack-processed images. Our dahlia was, in fact, a Raw image.

We used beta build 582 running under Mac OS 10.7 for our all of our tests, experiencing just one crash trying to access an image on our hard drive in Organize mode.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

PC: Microsoft Windows XP SP3 (32 bits), Windows Vista (32 or 64 bits), Windows 7 (32 or 64 bits) and Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor

Mac: Mac OS x 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion and Intel Mac processor

3-GB RAM minimum and 2-GB available disk space

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

One of the concerns with Optics Pro is whether your camera and lenses are supported. You can, of course, use it on images taken with unsupported gear, but it does so much more with the Raw images of supported gear that we often feel a bit like stomping our feet and crying like a spoiled brat when working with images taken with unsupported gear.

The good news is that the company expects to have released 5,000 total DxO modules by the end of the year -- and to double that by the end of next year. DxO has reengineered its calibration process to keep up with new product introductions and catch up with older ones.

As if to illustrate this, we were disappointed that the beta didn't support the Nikon 1 V1/J1 cameras, even though they were announced just a few weeks before Optics Pro. And yet, the company was already working on the cameras, completing the lens evaluations, just days before the release of the new version (which is available now). So it won't be long.

More good news: the price. Until Dec. 24, the Standard version is available for $99 ($169 list) and the Elite version for $199 ($299 list). If you bought Optics Pro in September or later, the upgrade is free.

CONCLUSION

In our earlier review of Optics Pro we summed up the experience, "It's as if someone has done the tough job of getting the plane airborne before we get to fly it wherever we want."

You might think of that as a head start on the fine points of image editing that are often overlooked. We tend to accommodate flaws like optical distortion (except when they are severe) but remain inexplicably annoyed by something as subtle as chromatic aberration. We may want a bit more vivid image but we don't want our shadows to glow, too. And as we develop a style or image editing preference for our shots, we might like to just apply them generally.

Optics Pro can handle all that. There are alternatives, certainly, but they don't have the built-in expertise of Optics Pro's modules. Lightroom probably comes the closest in Raw processing, noise reduction and workflow but it isn't in the same league when it comes to optical correction.

Optics Pro is not just a valuable tool but an indispensable tool. We're delighted the company has devoted so much effort to improving it while it chases the fire storm of product introduction.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon J1 Shooter's Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NIKONJ1/NIKONJ1A.HTM on the Web site.)

Both before and after the announcement of the mirrorless Nikon 1 camera system, the main complaint from enthusiasts has been about the new camera's sensor size.

A few fellow journalists present at the late-night launch event had to ask, "Why?! Why use a smaller sensor when the goal of mirrorless is to get the best quality at the smallest size?"

It's a good question. The answer, of course, is to achieve smaller optics as well as smaller camera bodies. As small as other CSC makers have made their bodies, they're somewhat limited in how small they can make their lenses and achieve the same focal lengths.

But that's not the question I have about the Nikon 1.

My question is whether the small consumer market in the U.S. for Compact System Cameras can support yet another system. The Japanese market has enthusiastically embraced Compact System Cameras (as have I), but I was disappointed to hear Nikon had tuned the J1 in particular to appeal to the consumer market.

I think the more successful model for any new camera platform is to appeal to the enthusiasts first, who will help you build a base market, then gradually take on the consumers. Current U.S. shoppers figure if they're going to spend $600-900 for a quality camera, they're going to go for the bigger dSLR. And most who want one have already purchased a dSLR, so I think adoption of CSCs will continue to lag. But it won't be for lack of effort, particularly from Panasonic with the GF1, Olympus with the E-PM1, and now Nikon with the J1.

A KICK

With that preliminary analysis behind, I have to confess, I found the Nikon J1 a kick to use. What's more, my 13-year-old daughter took to the little white camera instantly, a fact that could easily turn all analysts on their pointy heads.

Setting out with the Nikon J1, I was disappointed to have to bring along a tripod, but too often I've been irritated with inconsistent framing when I do ISO comparison shots, so I knew I had to have it. But the Nikon J1 is so small, I really wanted to see what I could do to grab surreptitious shots of the various folks milling about Times Square, even at 3:00 am. Instead I was rather conspicuous with my mid-size Manfrotto, but I think it might have served as a deterrent to some of those who seemed to want to accost me at that time of night, so it was probably good all the same.

Imaging Resource readers know I'm excited about this category of camera. Though I still use and appreciate dSLRs, I want a small camera with good quality optics that I can have with me everywhere. Pocket cameras like the Canon S95 and larger ones like the Nikon P7100 serve the need well enough, but interchangeable lens cameras like the Olympus Pens have taken their place in my life when I'm not using a dSLR.

It's not just portability, but also anonymity that a smaller CSC offers. Though I had a biggish tripod, I didn't stand out as badly as people do when they're holding a 1Ds Mark III with a white lens mounted.

As I walked around, nobody shied away from me or thought of me at all. I was just another person taking pictures in one of the most-photographed parts of the world. As I was leaving Times Square that morning, I purposely passed a couple of women having their picture taken, and with the 10mm pancake attached, I stopped momentarily to grab a shot. It probably happens every few seconds in this square during the day, but being there so late I got the shot with fewer people in attendance.

ON THE STREET

I'm not a frequent street photographer, but I really had fun playing one for the day. Humans at work and play are my favorite subjects, so any large city sends my photographic eye into overdrive. Living in a semi-rural area, I seldom get to stretch these muscles, but I was having fun.

I didn't explore either of the Nikon J1's new Mode dial settings, instead keeping to Program and semi-auto modes. It's a pity Nikon chose to leave PASM off the Mode dial, but most of us enthusiasts who want to use pocket cameras for creative shooting are used to having to bend a little. It's as easy as pressing the Menu button and rapidly navigating to the Exposure mode menu item. The menu is fast, very responsive despite its animation, and it remains where you were last, so if you're cycling through ISO settings, it's easy enough to get back in there and make a change.

When in Manual mode, Playback's Zoom toggle transforms into the shutter speed lever, and the Multi-controller's dial serves as the aperture control, perhaps its best function. In Aperture priority mode, the dial does nothing, and aperture is adjusted with the zoom toggle.

Another unfortunate surprise is the lack of exposure preview when making settings in Manual mode. Setting Exposure compensation does preview the exposure, however, so there's hope they can add Manual exposure preview with a firmware update.

LENSES

The 10-30mm lens was just about right for most street shooting, ranging from a 27-81mm equivalent in 35mm format. While at first it was a little stiff, with just a small amount of use, the zoom mechanism was smooth; not posh, mind you, but good.

Autofocus in good light is indeed very quick. I'm intrigued with the Nikon 1's 73-point phase-detect AF system, and I'm still hoping to learn more about how it works; for now, though, Nikon is hush-hush about the technology.

The lenses have no manual focus ring, sadly, another downside for the enthusiast. You can set Manual focus by selecting it in the Menu, then pressing the OK button to enter Manual focus mode. Focus is adjusted via the rear dial. The view zooms, but it's very difficult to tell when focus is achieved, despite the higher-resolution screen.

The 1 Nikkor long telephoto is also compressible, getting down to quite a small package. The lens lock on both lenses takes a little getting used to, but I got the hang of it in just a few minutes. Ranging from a 81-297mm equivalent in 35mm format, the 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens offers an impressive zoom range for its size.

OTHER NOTES

Interface. I already said I'm not crazy about the Mode dial having only four items, only two of which I'm likely to use, but I do like the Nikon J1's menu system. It has only three main categories: Playback, Camera, and Settings. Navigation is fast, left and right arrows move between levels, and up and down arrows scroll through choices. Using the rear dial is even faster, ripping quickly to exactly the right control.

Movie Mode. Though the top deck has a Movie shutter button, Movie recording is only available in Movie mode. On the other hand, high-resolution 16:9 stills can be recorded while you're shooting video. The stills are saved separately, and not integrated into the video, as you'll often see on Canon cameras with this ability.

The J1 can record video up to 1080p (1920x1080 pixels) at either 30 progressive-scan frames per second or 60 interlaced fields per second from 60 fps sensor output. This mode uses MPEG-4/H.264 AVC compression. 720p (1280x720 pixel) movies can also be recorded at 60 fps. The J1 is limited to its built-in stereo mics, so budding videographers should stick to the Nikon V1.

Two slow-mo video modes are available, too, one at 640x240 pixels and 400 fps, which slows the action by about 13x. At 320x120 you get 1,200 fps, playing back at 40x super slow-mo.

Motion Snapshot. Nikon made a lot of their Motion Snapshot mode, which captures a small snippet of video before capturing a full-res still image. After capture, you press the F button to set the combo to music. Choices are Beauty, Waves, Relaxation, and Tenderness. In Playback mode, pressing the OK button plays back first the video, then the still as the music plays the background.

I'll be brutally honest. I don't get it.

Someone will, though, and get good at capturing Motion Snapshots for some art show that requires monitors and projectors, making them millions. More power to them.

I'd have rather had PASM on the dial. Gray the letters out or make them accessible with a key, I don't care, but make them available on the dial to reduce menu digging. Other companies in this space, notably Panasonic and Olympus, have omitted the Mode dial to reduce camera size, but Nikon included it, they just didn't give it the modes one would want a dial for.

Again, it's the camera's target market that determines so much of the Nikon J1 design, and it isn't photography enthusiasts. But even for consumers, I think both of these modes would do better buried in a Scene menu.

Smart Photo Selector. The other apparently Mode-dial-worthy mode is Smart Photo Selector, giving it a place on the Mode dial, a child of the long-standing Best Shot Selector from Coolpixes gone by. This one fires off up to 20 shots and looks for blur and poor composition, then whittles down the shots for you from 20 to five. Then you get to choose the final picture, or else keep all five.

At the launch event, I was told that Smart Photo Selector also accounted for subjects blinking, but that's not mentioned in the user manual, and doesn't seem to be the case based on photos selected as being the "best" by the camera.

It did seem to do a reasonable job of choosing the least blurry images, though, and that in itself is probably enough to make it a useful function for many consumers.

Scene Mode. Though I say that the above modes would be better buried in the Scene menu, it turns out that the Scene menu doesn't exist on the Nikon J1. Someone's finally recognized that people seldom use Scene modes, so all they included on the J1 was Scene auto selector. Select it, and you just depend on the camera to know when you're photographing a red sunset and not an Irish Setter.

Missing. Some of the more recent digital photography innovations are completely absent from the Nikon J1. Things like sweep panorama, handheld multi-shot and HDR modes. It's as if the feature list was established two years ago and these were left out because they weren't part of the standard set of expectations.

Silence. One final intriguing element to the Nikon J1 for stealth photography is its lack of physical shutter curtains. It's all electronic.

Sony's latest cameras have the option of an electronic first curtain, but finish the exposure with a real shutter. The Nikon V1, introduced at the same time, has physical shutters, but not the J1. That means you can turn off the artificial shutter and AF confirmation sounds to shoot in complete silence.

It's pretty cool. The only disadvantage to this shutterless design is that flash sync speed is limited to 1/60 second, while the Nikon V1 can reach 1/250 second.

SAMPLE IMAGES

You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NIKONJ1/NIKONJ1A7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NIKONJ1/NIKONJ1GALLERY.HTM.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I really enjoyed shooting the Nikon J1. I'm not convinced that Nikon targeted the right market with the Nikon 1 series overall, but the J1 serves the consumer market it seeks. If that market exists in the U.S., the Nikon J1 is sure to find it.

Return to Topics.

Feature: The Carousel Experience

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/adobe-carousel/index.htm on the Web site.)

We're responsible for three of the over a million downloads of Adobe's free Carousel software for OS X and iOS (http://www.adobe.com/products/carousel.html). And we figure that's about average because not only does the software run on all your devices but you don't want to be without it.

You don't want to be without it because it's the window to the photos you've uploaded to Adobe's servers. How many photos? As many as you want. Unlimited.

Unlimited JPEGs, anyway.

But JPEGs are what you show people and what you print and what you play with, so we don't have an issue with that. What you can't do (in this version anyway) is upload Raw files. We didn't miss them a second (considering the upload and download time penalty) even though we have DVDs full of them.

So you have access from any supported device (Windows and Android soon, we're told) to as many of your photos as you care to upload. That's one thing.

IMAGE HOSTING

We've witnessed a few attempts at this in the past.

There was, for example, Ofoto. You uploaded your images, they printed them and there was an online gallery so you could see them in your Web browser. The Adam of the online photofinishers was bought by Kodak, renamed Gallery and is, apparently, another Kodak asset on the market as the company struggles to find itself in the new century.

Of these services Smugmug, enjoys some favor among photographers but we've always appreciated Phanfare's achievement. When Kodak wouldn't store full resolution images (or let you download them), Phanfare had no such restriction. This was one feature you often didn't appreciate until you needed it, though.

Then there was WD's iOS software to view photos stored on a networked WD drive via your cell network. That was cute. Wherever you were, you could just open the WD Play app on your iPhone, log in and see your images.

And recently Apple has launched its iCloud service with OS X 10.7. You can elect to share your photos among supported devices and they will magically appear on all of them when they appear on one of them.

That's pretty much how Carousel works, too, although you determine which images to upload. Not everything saved on your device gets pushed to the cloud. You only store what you want stored. And, um, it stays there. No automatic deletions after 30 days.

The upload goes in two stages. A quick upload of thumbnails makes your images available almost immediately but it can take a while to complete the upload of the complete file data. How fast the full resolution file gets to the cloud depends on your connection and how large the file is, of course.

We uploaded nearly 100 images at once, recently. That took over two hours for the full resolution images to make it to the server. The thumbnails, on the other hand, were up in seconds.

BEYOND HOSTING

But Carousel goes beyond mere hosting.

First it makes sharing as simple as entering an email address. You can allow up to five people to share your carousel or album when you enter their email address in the carousel's settings pane to invite them to share.

When you invite them, an email is sent to them to visit the Adobe site to download the free Carousel software. They will have to create an Adobe Carousel account but they won't have to buy anything (like storage space, for which you've already agreed to pay $60/year).

You get up to five carousels for that $60/year.

Adobe expects people to use one carousel as the full collection and others to be "working" collections not ready to be imported into the full collection yet. We didn't see a way to combine our two carousels, though. When we asked about it, Adobe confessed it's working on it. Meanwhile, the company suggests exporting images from the working folder and then importing them into the main carousel.

Five shares may sound pretty limited, but you are inviting them to do more than share. These five people can also edit any of the images in a carousel and even upload their own. So you don't want to allow a lot of people that kind of fun. It's more like hiring employees than sharing with friends.

And you can still export to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, your hard disk and share via email to reach larger audiences.

You can export either the original image or the edited image. Because edits are non-destructive (just a recipe of changes stored in the database), your original image remains untouched. The Actions menu in the Carousel application lets you Export Original, complete with the original Exif data.

And, of course, you can export your edited image, too. Our test export lacked the MakerNotes section of the Exif header but did retain our copyright information.

VIEWING IMAGES

The free Carousel app provides access to your carousel (or the one you were invited to) as well as a small set of editing tools.

At first we were a bit miffed that there was no Slide Show function, as in iPhoto. That couldn't have required a great deal of effort, we thought.

But we didn't miss it very long.

When you first visit a carousel, it's arranged in long rows of images running off the right edge of the screen, each of which represents one date. That's the extent of the organization in a carousel in this version of the program. No keywords, no calendar, no quick access.

Open an image full screen (with a click or a tap) and you can swipe or click your way to the next. It's a manual slide show (and without music unless you hum) but it won't be unfamiliar to anyone.

Tapping the full screen image (or clicking on the Edit icon in the desktop version) takes you to the editing controls.

There is a slight but annoying difference between the desktop application's command layout and the iOS app.

They do the same things but for some reason the design differs. You have icons you click in the desktop application that just don't appear in the iOS app. So you have to interact with them a little differently, which we found confusing. Because, well, they could easily have used the same approach, it seems to us.

We were also surprised to find trackpad gestures were not supported on the desktop version, despite requiring Mac OS X 10.7.

EDITING

While Adobe envisions Carousel as a collaborative photo tool, our multiple personalities were on vacation this month, so we were limited to just one of us.

But we kept busy uploading images to our main carousel, viewing them and, much to our surprise, editing them.

In fact, we can't remember having this much fun editing images. We almost wanted to capture only flawed pictures so we could play with them in Carousel.

But not in the desktop application.

The problem is simply that if we're going to spend time editing an image, we want to use the most powerful tool handy. And on the desktop that is not Carousel.

Carousel's editing functions are minimal in this version. You can apply a preset, make three main adjustments (White Balance, Exposure and Contrast) or Crop & Rotate (with a couple of Flips thrown in for good measure).

Surprisingly, that was sufficient for a number of our first uploads. We sat down one afternoon with an iPad in our lap and went through some photos we'd taken at one of the Fingerlakes.

All the horizons were askew (the cabin owner brews his own beer) so we moved through the images using the Rotate slider to fix that. It was actually kind of fun doing it with a gesture. And the grid that appears over the image made it easy to see when we'd gotten the horizon level.

That, of course, led to some judicious cropping. And that was just pure fun. We started by centering things like a long shot up a narrow dock but we found more creative crops just waiting for us to push in one side or the other of an image.

You can, if you must, Compare versions before you Apply the non-destructive changes. You aren't editing pixels but creating recipes for changes to the original pixels. Just like in, say, Lightroom. In fact, the image editing engine is lifted from Lightroom, Adobe said.

There is a delay of some seconds as the full image data (if not already cached) downloads from the server for editing. But that's true of any of these cloud-based schemes.

When we ran into an image that had an exposure issue, we tapped the Adjustments button and fiddled with Exposure and Contrast mainly. White Balance is pretty well handled by digital cameras but occasionally we wanted to warm something up or cool it down for effect. Mainly, though we changed Exposure and Contrast.

While that was limiting, it was limiting the way haiku is limiting. This is all you can do, so do it well.

And it was almost always enough. But in the Adjustments tab, each option has a little two-way arrow icon that leads to more options. White Balance has Temperature and Tint. Exposure includes Exposure, Highlights and Shadows. Contrast offers the most fun with Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance. So you can get from haiku to sonnets with a click.

While the edits are non-destructive, we sometimes wanted to preserve the original image. So we simply used the Actions menu to duplicate it.

Once we'd made our changes, we tapped the Apply button and the recipe shot up to the cloud where it was instantly applied to any other open version of the image. There is a slight delay as the data transmits but the update is seamless and prompt.

On the iPad where we did most of our editing, it was a very pleasant diversion. We could sit anywhere in the house and play with our photos. Which could become a way of life. You know, like reading or sewing after dinner.

CAROUSEL LIBRARY

Like Lightroom, Carousel creates an SQLite database of your image collection. It also stores at least some of the originals. On each device.

Adobe explained that on iOS devices local storage is only a cache, which automatically deletes the oldest content when "the cache starts to get big." So you can indeed have more photos on Adobe's server than will fit on your smart phone or tablet.

FUTURE PATH

In a Photoshop.com blog entry (http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2011/11/carousel_1_million.html), Carousel Product Manager Sumner Paine outlined a few enhancements the Carousel team was working on:

As a free app, we can't complain about Carousel and still maintain much dignity but Adobe is free to roll out an enhancement any time it wants because it's the storage you're paying for, not the software. Although, we haven't seen an update yet, we have to report.

One enhancement we'd like to see is display of Exif data, perhaps in a small popup that would hover over the main display as we scroll through the images. As it is, the only time you see even a file name is when you export an image.

CONCLUSION

It's easy to bash a program or service because it isn't what you want or need. It's a little harder to appreciate something that tries to do things a little differently in response to new problems.

We're a long way from the days when having one computer on your desktop was your entire computing environment. Now we can take our environment with us and put it down or pick it up anywhere in the house, too.

For that to work, data has to be accessible. The cloud is one way to make it accessible. And Adobe's attempt to mine the cloud with an application that works on both the desktop and the laptop and smart phones, while not quite mature, is an ambitious foray into the future that's already fun to use today.

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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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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 the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9b16a

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

Read about the CanoScan 9000F Scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb0378

Read about Sigma lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=8

Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec

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Dave's Deals

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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: Old Scanner, New OS Revisted

Thank you for publishing my letter. I shall bring you up to date!

I spent hours with Apple, bumped up to second tier support and they were very gracious. With their guidance I discovered that my scanner isn't "broken" nor is my new computer "corrupt." Apple's patience showed through. They assisted me in hooking up a colleague's MacBook Pro to yield the same results. Apple said they will amend their documentation to remove my scanner from the "approved" (safe?) list.

I notified Epson and they just said they have no timelines. So I took your suggestion, paid for VueScan and my scanner is back in action.

Much thanks for your guidance and assistance!

-- Peter Crosta

(Glad to help! And bravo for following up with both Apple and Epson. -- Editor)

RE: Sigma Zoom

I was wondering if you have any info on the Sigma 150-500mm lens. Is it a good buy? Are there problems with it?

-- Tom Rogalski

(We haven't reviewed it, Tom, but there's been some discussion in our forum devoted to it: http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1183/cat/31 -- Editor)

RE: Old Digicam Help

I have a Canon PowerShot SX30 IS camera but the User Guide provided doesn't explain the functions on the Mode dial. Where can I view these functions and download same for my use?

-- Philip Wood

(Canon hides its full manuals on the CD that shipped with the camera, Philip. You can also download the full manual from Canon's support page for the camera. The User Guide is just an introduction but the PDF manual thoroughly explains every function. You can also take a look at our review, which usually details those functions: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SX30IS/SX30ISA.HTM -- Editor)

RE: Scanning 110 Film

I have an Epson V750 scanner. I also have some disc and 110 film that I would like to scan. Do you know any holders or specific suggestions for scanning these formats?

-- Gary Chamberlain

(You can make your own, Gary (see our March 11 Newsletter: http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). We also ran across this adapter: http://filmscanusa.com/cs-cart/index.php?target=products&product_id=29790 And here's two other approaches on the Epson (one using magnets of all things): http://www.film110.co.uk/ -- Editor)

RE: Bulk Slide Scanning

I was just reading your flatbed scanner reviews (much thanks, by the way) but they're really too slow to scan slides by the hundreds. Can you name of three or four units I might consider for scanning bulk slides?

-- Jim Wright

(Not really. We recommend using a photo lab for digitizing a collection, Jim. They have the high-speed commercial scanners that can get through hundreds of images efficiently. Then you can use a desktop scanner to work on just the images you most prize. -- Editor)

RE: Old OS, Old Scanner

I need a good quality scanner to deal with a load of 35mm trannies and negs and am seriously thinking about picking up a secondhand CanoScan FS4000US. I found your 06/26/01 review extremely thorough and informative. Can you advise me on compatibility with an aging Mac?

I'm using an iMac G4 Flat Panel with not a lot of memory and the input would have to be via USB 1.1. Would it be easy for me to get this going?

-- Jon Warden

(Compatibility would depend on what OS you're running but that model is compatible with VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com/vuescan/canon_fs4000.html) on OS X without the manufacturer's drivers. Which is about as close to a guarantee as you can get. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) has introduced its $549.95 SB-910 Speedlight with a guide number of 111.5 feet at ISO 100 and zoomed to 35mm, improved thermal protection that just extends recycling time rather than shutting down, a Menu button instead of the Zoom button and color compensation filters that clip onto the flash head.


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro 7 with major performance improvements using OPen CL code and a simpler workflow option. The company has released FilmPack 3.1 with an improved interface and new presets.


PictoColor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has released its $124.95 iCorrect Portrait 2.0, a plug-in for Photoshop CS5 with 32- and 64-bit compatibility in both Macintosh and Windows versions.


The $49 VisualLightbox 5.0 [MW] (http://visuallightbox.com) includes support for multiple galleries in the Joomla 1.5 module plus new interface localizations, updates for two themes and fixes imports from Photobucket and Flickr.


Concord Keystone (http://www.concordkeystone.com) has introduced its $129.99 Easy Shot Clip HD Diving Kit, a small, high-definition digital video camera and underwater housing unit that can capture 720p HD video and sound underwater up to depths of 100 ft.


Induro (http://www.indurogear.com) has announced three low-profile, heavy-duty Induro BHL ballheads that are 20 percent lighter and 15 percent more compact than comparable ballheads. Price ranges from $192 to $311 depending on the size.


Digital Darkroom features work by 17 master digital image manipulators from the U.S., France, and the U.K. The show, co-curated by Patricia Lanza of the Annenberg Space for Photography and Russell Brown from Adobe, opens Dec. 17 at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles (http://www.annenbergspaceforphotography.org).


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released its $125 RAW Developer 1.9.3 [M] with support for new cameras, performance improvements to lossless JPEG decompression and minor bug fixes.


Neatberry (http://neatberry.com) has released its $14.99 Sketcher 1.2 [MW], which can turn an image into a pencil sketch, watercolor or oil drawing, with its "own document type to store your favorite settings, undo, zoomable preview and new filters."


With Leica Camera AG, LFI Photographie GmbH has launched a new online portal for the Leica S-System at http://www.S-League.net.


Flatten your GoPro Hero 2 fish-eye: http://vimeo.com/32997570


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.0.64 [LMW] with fixes for an Epson V300/V500/V600 issue, document feeder problems, black background scans, and some WIA scanners on Windows.

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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

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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

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