The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 14, Number 12 15 June 2012

Copyright 2012, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 334th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We grok the Epson R3000 printer while Shawn falls in love with the Sony RX100. Then we continue our adventures with those bridge images, discovering a new split-toning option in Photoshop CS6. But don't miss the top item in the Editor's Notes.


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 A N A S O N I C

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S I G M A

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T A M R O N

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S O N Y

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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: Epson Stylus Photo R3000 Sets the Standard

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/epson-r3000/index.htm on the Web site.)

As soon as our Canon Pro-1 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/canon-pro-1/index.htm) was published, we heard from Epson. You really should take a look at our R3000, they said.

Indeed, the R3000, which beat the Pro-1 to market by several months, has a lot going for it that the Pro-1 does not. Ethernet, for one. And a small pigment droplet size, too.

Like the Pro-1, it's a 13-inch printer but it handles roll paper, too. Closed up, it's quite a bit more compact.

And like the Pro-1, it can print color or black and white images, swapping matte and photo black ink cartridges.

List price is $849.99 but Epson itself sells it for just $649.99, a significant bargain compared to the $999.99 Pro-1.

FEATURES

Epson lists the highlights of its R3000 as:

TECHNOLOGY

Ultrachrome K3 Inks. The K3 inkset is a palette of eight active inks, three of which are black. There is no gloss optimizer in the K3 inkset because the inks themselves include a resin.

In addition, the darkest black ink swaps out depending on the paper with Photo Black used for glossy sheets and Matte Black for uncoated stock. Epson says its microcrystal encapsulated Photo Black can be used on any surface but the non-resin, self-dispersing Matte Black delivers a darker black on matte and fine art papers by not sinking into the sheet quite so much.

While the driver will advise you which black is preferred, you have to make the switch at the printer using the control panel.

There's been quite a lot of online grumbling about the amount of ink wasted when switching between Photo Black and Matte Black. Going from Matte to Photo takes three milliliters and going from Photo to Matte takes one milliliter. Why?

Epson explained that Photo Black, with resins incorporated into it, works on any paper but Matte Black, with no resin and chemistry designed to avoid sinking into uncoated sheets (and will consequently sit on glossy paper without drying, which is why Epson flushes three milliliters of it when you switch back to Photo Black), only works well on uncoated papers. So you don't have to clear Photo Black from the ink line as much as you do have to clear Matte Black.

However, Epson pointed out, among the Setup options on the printer itself, there is a Black Ink Change setting that lets you select between this Standard flushing and an Economy flushing that only uses one milliliter to flush Matte Black instead of three milliliters. We found it interesting that the option wasn't two milliliters but one milliliter, suggesting three milliliters does a more than thorough job.

For black and white printing, you have three tones in the ink set: a very light black (Light Light Black), a Light Black and Photo or Matte Black. The advantage to using tritone monochrome printing over quadtone color printing in monochrome is the elimination of a color cast not only at the time of printing but also as the print ages.

In addition, Epson claims the Light Light black significantly reduces gloss differences, especially combined with the high-gloss microcrystal encapsulation technology of the K3 ink set and its unique screening algorithms. Finer pigments and precise ink laydown minimize gloss variation, in short.

You'll still have an issue where you don't lay down ink, however, as in blown-out or specular highlights. The print driver option to enable Highlight Point Shift will print very lightly in the highlight area to avoid this in black and white prints. This is the one area in which a gloss optimizer helps.

For color prints, you can use the Levels command in most image editing software to shift the output level down from pure white at 255 to something short of that.

Epson has also revised the magenta component of the inkset, referring to it as Vivid Magenta and Vivid Light Magenta. Using these magentas instead of, say, the orange ink in the R2000, expands the range of blues and purples while warming skin tones, Epson told us.

With yellow, two densities of cyan and two of magenta delivering a wide color gamut, the K3 inkset relies on the three densities of black to deliver a stable gray balance much like gray undercolor removal in offset printing in which less color ink is used in preference for black. The technique avoids laying 100 percent of yellow, cyan and magenta down under black areas (which produces a color much like mud), relying instead on black to cover.

Gloss level is improved with a special resin in the K3 inkset that improves the smoothness of the printed surface.

Pigment Agitation. With the ink stored in an immobile tank, how does the R3000 agitate the pigment so it doesn't all settle at the bottom of the tank? You can actually hear it agitate the ink using a pressurization system borrowed from the Epson 3800. It sounds a bit like a vacuum cleaner every now and then as the pigments are stirred up in the tank using fluid pressure.

Print Head. The R3000 uses the same print head as the R2000. That's the MicroPiezo AMC, one-inch wide print head with ink-repelling coating for more accurate dot placement and reduced maintenance.

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.

PRINTING

There's no proof like pudding, so we quickly put the R3000 to work. We were particularly interested in comparing its output to the Canon Pro-1 prints we'd been producing.

First Prints. To get familiar with the printer, we ran off half a dozen quick prints. Three 8x10 Velvets from Lightroom 4 beta and three 13x19 Lustres from Photoshop CS5, one of which we sent 16-bit data to the printer. We'd printed only one before (on the R2000). A good mix.

Then we tried 4-inch roll paper. No sale. Unlike the R2000, the R3000 won't let you hang a short roll on the back. You have to have a full-width roll.

Epson told us that narrower rolls aren't supported because the support tray is in the way. It preferred to have a front-loading fine art mechanism than support 4-inch roll paper.

So we moved on to black and white on art paper, loading the paper through the front art paper slot. The LCD will confirm that art paper can be loaded. Just slide it in. It will pop out the back (which you opened) so you can carefully align it to the front scribe mark and side guide. Then press OK so the printer can actually load the paper. When it has, be sure to push in the front loading tray and pull out the output tray.

We printed on a matte fine art paper. Or wanted to. The driver complained that the black ink cartridge wasn't correct. In fact, we had been printing on lustre, which uses the Photo Black cartridge. For a matte paper, we needed Matte Black. The driver dialog did indicate that was the ink to use.

But the driver complained, "The black ink cartridge differs from the one installed in the printer. Change the black ink cartridge in the printer." We were a little confused, but the manual came to the rescue explaining we have to walk over to the printer and use the Menu system to actually switch black inks.

That takes a few minutes to flush the supply lines.

We had a job queued so as soon as the ink switch had been completed, the job started printing.

Dueling Pianos. We fired off the same image file to both the R3000 and the Pro-1, both using the same papers (using the paper manufacturer's ICC profiles for that sheet on that particular printer).

It was interesting. So interesting, we asked for a vote. So this isn't just our opinion but a consensus.

Everybody noticed the R3000 uncoated black and white prints had more contrast and more detail. That smaller droplet size apparently matters. And though both printers feature a matte black, Epson's was clearly more dense. So the R3000 delivered better tonality and detail on monochrome matte prints.

It was, frankly, a significant difference. Guests didn't blink an eye before picking the Epson prints over the Canon.

We also printed a set of portraits on Ilford Galerie Smooth Perl using Ilford's ICC profiles for both printers. The file was printed first to one printer then the other, with only the driver settings changed. So they were the identical image on the same paper.

The results were very hard to tell apart. Virtually identical. We did notice very slight gloss variation on the Canon prints, but only when we angled the image to look for it. And the Epson prints did produce more saturated color, which was only noticeable on things like T-shirt lettering and vivid package printing. Skin tones were spectacular on both.

One of the virtues of the Pro-1 is it hardly ever produces a lousy print. Right out of the box, the results are impressive. We have to say the R3000 matched that experience for us -- but we have to add that it has quite a few more options and it's easy to get lost in the driver.

Glossies. We had two images taken at City Lights Bookstore that seemed to go well together. Both were of windows, but one showed the interior, the daylight illuminating books on a table by the window, and other showed the view over lower rooftops out its window.

We used Ilford Galerie Smooth Gloss on these with Ilford's ICC profiles. But we printed the set both in color and in black and white.

Epson claims the image is stable out of the printer, but our room lighting isn't as bright in the evening as it is in the day. So we held off evaluating the images until we had good sunlight. We had excellent detail in the shadows and highlights of both versions of the prints and a glowing color that matched the weather that day.

They were, in short, just perfect.

The Bridge. In our Just for Fun column we've been describing an evolving black and white project.

We started with a 12-panel 13x19 printed on Moab Entrada Natural. At first we thought the black and white print was a bit greenish. Epson suggested it might be a profile issue. This is another of those driver settings that you can get lost in. The workaround is, in general, to try Velvet Fine Art for cold, bluish papers rather than Radiant White (which is what Moab itself suggests) and use Ultrasmooth Fine Art in Advanced Black and White Photo mode for natural white papers with no brighteners.

The problem is commonly seen when printing the U.S. flag's blue field. If it looks purple, you'll want to pick a different profile.

The most recent episode recounted our poster prints of the Golden Gate Bridge on its 75th anniversary.

We did two versions of the original image, a square black and white taken with an Olympus E-PL1. The simpler version is a straight monochrome image. The other version is a split-toned image using four tones.

The image itself was taken just a few days before the anniversary but looks for all the world as if it were taken 75 years ago. Credit the black and white palette and the square aspect ratio. And the setting, which with the golden Marin headlands in the background and low tide in the foreground did not betray the era.

But even the split-tone image, which ranged from black to red to blue to yellow and colored the bridge's dark tones in red and the water in blue, had a colorized antique effect.

We really couldn't pick between them. Nor could anyone else.

Printed on Museo Silver Rag, they both stopped visitors to the bunker in their tracks.

CD Printing. Epson recommends burning the CD or DVD before printing it, which makes sense to us.

Loading the CD is as simple as loading fine art media. You drop the gray tray, put a CD in the black CD insert, line it up to the mark and watch the printer load it. The LCD guides you through the process so you don't have to remember.

We had a CD design ready to go in Epson's Print CD, so we let it fly.

Oddly enough the driver wanted Matte Black rather than Photo Black, so we had to switch blacks before we could print. But after we did that, the R3000 printed the CD without a complaint -- and very quickly.

In our Pro-1 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/canon-pro-1/index.htm), we expanded on CD printing, mentioning alternative sofware and supplies (like waterproof media).

iPrint. Epson has its own solution for iPad owners who want to print photos to an Epson WiFi printer or all-in-one. It's called iPrint.

We installed it on an iPad 2 and gave it a whirl. It can access your photos from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream, of course, but it can also grab them online from Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox or Box.

What we really liked about it were the extensive print options, much like the print dialog you're used to seeing from a desktop application. You can select a printer if you have more than one, Page Size, Media Type, Layout, Print Quality, Copies and Advanced Settings (Paper Source, Monochrome or Color, Print Date, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation).

No need to install your printer, either. The app looked around and found the R3000 before we knew it.

And our test print came out perfectly the first time we tried it. Very nicely done.

CONCLUSION

The R3000 handled everything we threw at it. And we threw everything at it.

But "handled" doesn't quite cover it. Whether it was the help system accessed from the LCD or the front-loading thick media paper path or the generous ink capacity, the R3000 exhibited a grace and competence we appreciated more and more.

That's because we printed on it more and more. We had the Pro-1 right next to it but we kept sending our images to the R3000. Color prints were nearly identical, as we pointed out, but there was no comparison between the monochrome images. The R3000 blew the doors off the Pro-1 for black and white printing.

It was also a little more civilized in normal use. We didn't have nearly the wait time we have on the Pro-1 when the printer has been idle a few days as it primes the pump.

We haven't seen a better 13x19 fine arts media printer that does both color and black and white. The R3000 sets the bar. Very high.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony RX100 Shooter's Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx100/sony-rx100A.HTM on the Web site.)

Nothing's more fun for a reviewer than looking at a camera we would buy for ourselves. Sony has finally refocused on the enthusiast user -- something they haven't done with much traction since the unique F828 -- and the results are quite good.

FORM FACTOR

Sony nailed it in the physical simplicity department, largely by conforming to an already popular, well-thought-out design found in the Canon S100 (the resemblance is uncanny). Though there's no grip on the front, the Sony RX100 is thick enough to hold easily. The larger lens ring leaves a little less room for your fingers, so I recommend using the wrist strap and both hands whenever possible. At $650, you don't want to drop this little beauty. Sony also included strap lugs for both sides of the RX100, so a solitary neck strap is also likely to be available.

The shirt-pocketable design is a little thick, so it's not going to disappear into a pocket like a Sony T-series camera, but it'll fit in a pinch and rides well in the looser pockets of slacks or handbags.

The position of the thumbgrip, Mode dial, Zoom toggle and Power button are ideal. The Rear dial, too, is well-positioned for easy access and its detents are clear. The Mode dial, on the other hand, is a little mushy for my taste. Rather than snapping into position, it's reluctant to leave its position, then moves slowly to its next setting. Stiff is good, unyielding isn't. That's probably my only complaint about the Sony RX100's physical operation, though, which is good.

LENS

Ranging from 28-100mm equivalents, the Sony RX100's 3.6x lens is a big part of the camera. You can tell what I mean when you power on this solid-feeling camera and the weight shifts toward the front. Much of the overall weight is the lens itself. If holding the camera without a strap, it's important to hold it well because the weight shift could cause you to lose your grip. What's amazing is how well it collapses inside the camera body. The lens zooms about as quickly as I'd like, with a slight, low-frequency buzz. Not exactly silent, but low enough that it won't attract too much attention.

Optical quality at the center is quite good. Our tests show some noticeable softening in the corners, likely related to the extreme distortion correction the camera has to perform out toward the corners. It also does this correction in video, unlike a few older Sony cameras, though we doubt it'll affect the corners as much given the lower resolution of HD video. The Canon S100's uncorrected Raw images are even more distorted than the RX100's images, which could also cause much of the softening we see in the corners on that camera, in addition to the usual suspects of coma, curvature of field and chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration is also low overall, probably processed out by the camera.

We also noticed an unusual color shift when zooming from wide to telephoto in Manual White Balance mode, going from a purple cast at wide-angle to a green cast at telephoto, primarily around the edges. This is partially due to our use of Manual White Balance on most of these setups and can be seen in other cameras, including the S100.

Autofocus is very quick on the Sony RX100, ranging from 0.153 second at wide-angle and 0.266 second at telephoto. That's deep into phase-detect dSLR territory and is a major advantage over the Canon S100, whose shutter lag improved over its predecessor but still hovered around 0.571 second. Pre-focused shutter lag on the RX100 is a remarkable 0.013 second.

As a result, the Sony RX100 surprised me with its readiness. I almost always half-press to pre-focus and the Sony RX100's shutter release works on a hair trigger, surprising you when it goes off. That's just what you want for catching the right moment once you get used to the camera, but at first you get surprised by taking a picture before you meant to. That's not a bad problem to have.

The Sony RX100 also focused extremely well in low light, actually working better without the AF assist lamp in our lowest light test. There were a few baubles, however, in our testing, with the lens hunting excessively between shots in Continuous mode with the aperture wide open to f1.8. Stopping down gradually reduced the issue until it went away at f4.

RINGS & COMPLEXITY

The front ring is both a blessing and a curse. It's great once you decide how you want to use it, but once you switch modes its function can change. Indeed, so many changes affect other operating factors that the Sony RX100's many options become something of a burden. After shooting with the Sony RX100, in some ways I'm drawn back to my S95 and its more limited, better-focused options.

But the front ring works very well in its default mode. I don't think I've ever seen a better expression of Program shift mode than what the RX100 offers. Just leave the camera in Program and turn the front ring. A graphic appears as an arc onscreen, with numerical aperture values turning in one direction while shutter speeds turn in the opposite direction. Oddly, this option is not offered on the S95 or its brothers. Since this is a lens that offers a little more bokeh, it's an absolutely natural way to shoot, giving you access to two critical exposure factors with a turn of the ring.

In Manual mode, the front ring controls aperture while the rear adjusts shutter speed, as it should be. You also get a real-time exposure preview on the screen. Bravo. When in Aperture or Shutter priority, both dials control the same parameter: either both control aperture or both control shutter speed. Makes sense. Switch to Superior or Intelligent Auto, on the other hand and the front ring switches to controlling zoom. Press the Down arrow (the one with the sparkly camera) in either of these Auto modes and the dials change again. This time the front dial does nothing, but the rear controls simplified features like background defocus, Brightness, Color (tone), Vividness and the rather deep well of Picture effects. Again, I'm surprised these modes are on a relatively intermediate-focused camera like this, but they can be avoided.

RING MENU

Pressing the Function button brought up the Ring menu. By default, the ring menu is set to adjust ISO but if you use the arrow keys to scroll left and right, you can select EV, White Balance, DRO/HDR options, Picture effects and Focus mode. I landed on Picture Effects and started turning the ring to shoot a series. Twenty shots later, I was getting tired, sure the Off option would swing around any moment. But all 33 options are available for the 13 types of Picture effects. You can access Picture effects in at least three different ways I found, speaking to the complexity I mentioned.

In general, though, this Function button method works well. It leaves the Ring free to do a single task that you set with just a turn, then it serves to adjust other settings after you press the Function button. Not bad. Just don't expect it to always do the same thing, depending on what other settings you've made, because it can surprise you.

LCD

Sony's not just boasting about the LCD with its high-res WhiteMagic display. It really is vibrant and detailed, even in sunlight -- so long as it's clean, that is. Speaking of which, I'd like to say how pleased I am that it's not a touchscreen. I'm getting more accustomed to touchscreens, but I really don't want them on premium cameras like this without the ability to completely disable them. Physical controls are more important to the enthusiast shooter and most don't like the unpredictability of touchscreens along with that.

LEVELING

One of the four Display options includes a two-axis level, measuring pitch (aiming up or down) and roll (tilting left and right). I used this a lot while shooting. It's helpful particularly trying to capture from an odd angle while keeping things aligned with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, some of the shots I took on a tripod showed as level, but clearly were not. Even one degree off looks like a lot, though, so I'm sure the level is designed more to get you in the ballpark. Since we haven't a manual yet, we can't be sure whether the leveling feature can be calibrated.

LAB CONCERNS

In addition to the strange seeking behavior in Continuous mode at wide apertures, the lab also found a peculiar difficulty setting Manual white balance in low light conditions. The camera just declares a Custom White Balance error if the light is too low, the ISO is set too low, the aperture is too small, the lens is zoomed in, etc. Ultimately, whatever is causing the camera to not capture enough light to determine a white balance setting. If in doubt, open up the aperture and zoom to wide-angle. The Set Custom White Balance screen draws its reading from a small circle in the center of the image area when you press the shutter button, so focal length is less important.

MORE

Panorama. Shooting a panorama is about as easy as it's ever been with the Sony cameras and the results are great. From what I can tell, the Sony RX100 uses intelligent sweep panorama, omitting elements of frames where someone's obviously moved.

You can shoot in four directions, but you have to choose which first. Because I wanted to get a tall building, I switched to "Down" as the option, then swept with the camera rotated left. You don't get quite 180 degrees, but I got all of the building.

DRO and HDR. We shot DRO images in the lab, which you can see on the Exposure page, but I also shot some HDR samples to show what the Sony RX100 can do with shadows and highlights with its various settings, including Auto, then ranging from 1.0EV to 6.0EV of exposure. All were shot on a tripod to keep it framed accurately. Results don't seem to step up neatly for some reason, with some shadows appearing darker than others, though the reported exposure remains the same and the last two shots seem the same.

Filters. As I mentioned, there's a ridiculous number of filters available, 33 in all with their various permutations. That doesn't even include the Scene modes. Here's a subset of the modes, highlighting some of the more interesting ones. Overall, it's a pretty interesting set of filters. I really liked the Painting and Illustration modes.

Night. I took quite a few night shots. The camera focused quickly and functioned just fine in very low light, just as we found in the lab and its exposure preview showed me exactly what I'd get when I pressed the shutter. Wide open, there was some noticeable lens flare, as you can see in the crop at right, taken from the first shot in the series above. You can also see the flare in the night video. It's pretty common among fast lenses, so be sure to stop down a bit if bright lights will be part of your image.

Multi-Frame Noise Reduction. It took me a little time to find the Multi-Frame NR mode. Just bring up the Ring Function menu, select ISO and turn the dial past Auto to ISO. I suppose it's good in certain situations, like when the camera will obviously choose a lower ISO, but my test showed that the really high ISO settings, like ISO 25,600, were too soft to use.

Video. Video quality looks pretty good and it worked pretty well. You can set ISO manually or let it gain up automatically in ISO Auto mode. Dynamic Range Optimization is also available, as are many of the picture effects. The results with all of them are pretty surprising. You can even select among Program, Aperture, Shutter-priority and Manual shooting modes.

I only had a short time with the Sony RX100, but it's enough to say that I like it a lot. Among the scads of special features and modes, I'd probably keep to Program and Aperture priority, using the Ring in its Standard mode and I'd probably occasionally play with the HDR mode in special circumstances. I'm sure I'd use Panorama more often. It's cool that it can rip off 10 frames per second, but this isn't the kind of camera I turn to for that kind of photography. Ultimately, I'd use the Sony RX100 for its large, light-sucking lens; its larger, high-res sensor; and its gorgeous LCD -- and ignore the rest. I'm just glad a big camera manufacturer finally heard us clearly and gave us a pocket camera with some serious guts.

SAMPLE IMAGES

You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx100/sony-rx100A7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx100/sony-rx100GALLERY.HTM.

CONCLUSION

Shaking up the premium pocket camera market, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 made quite an impact here at Imaging Resource. Not only did it make a lot of big claims, it actually lived up to most of them, packing an astonishing amount of imaging power into a small package. It couldn't possibly escape us that Sony is aiming squarely at Canon's successful S-series pocket cameras in its design, but it also seemed like a wise move. Since what we all want from a pocket camera is better image quality, Sony took the right tack by picking a sensor large enough to make a difference in image quality, yet small enough to still fit into a pocketable body.

Adding a lens that's brighter than all but two cameras in the category also hits a good note. We found a little bit of lens flare, but overall the optic looks quite nice thanks to a little extra processing from the Bionz processor. Corner softening is present, as expected, but considering the very high resolution, it's not as big a factor as it looks at 100 percent onscreen. At wide-angle, we suspect some of the softening is due to the geometric distortion correction.

Color was a little muted for our tastes, particularly yellows, which also shifted toward green. This affected the entire image, making our still life shots print a little less vibrant than we're accustomed to seeing. If you shoot Raw and process in a program like Lightroom, it's not a huge problem.

The Sony RX100's dSLR-class autofocus speeds and very fast buffer clearing means it has fewer of the compromises we're used to seeing in small cameras. Sony also chose to use their Alpha menu system rather than the more annoying NEX menu system, a move we applaud. While it's impressive that Sony included so many of their special features, though, we have to wonder if it isn't a little too much here and there. We were also frustrated more than once when changing one setting unexpectedly locked us out of a range of features or behaviors without warning. Sometimes less is more.

What wasn't disappointing was image quality. It doesn't quite rival the quality of most compact system cameras but it does exceed the capabilities of most of its major rivals in the pocket premium camera space, capable of printing a 24x36-inch print at ISO 125 and an 8x10 at ISO 6400. All things considered, we think the Sony RX100 is an impressive achievement and we give it an enthusiastic Dave's Pick.

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir 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 about the CanoScan 9000F Scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeb0378

A reader asks about shutter lag tests at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eeba0e1

Read about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7

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

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Just for Fun: Split-Toning the Bridge

What started as an innocent afternoon with photographer Arthur Tress has become an adventure in photography around here. We've already told the story of our multi-panel print and in the last issue we were about to print our bridge triptych.

Except a funny thing happened on the way to the printer.

We liked our middle image so much that we decided to print it by itself. Because the format of the image is square (echoing Tress's Rollieflex images), we placed it in the top part of our 13x19 page. To put the bottom of the sheet to work, we added a three-line caption identifying the bridge, the occasion and the dates -- all flush right like a signature and in that elegant font, Trajan Pro.

We left only a half-inch border on the top and sides, though, making it a bit of a tight fit with a mat. And the black and white test print muddied up some of the bridge detail in the shadows where we wanted some separation between the outside girders and the belly of the roadway.

But before we got around to making those adjustments, we caught a Scott Kelby video on Photoshop CS6's lesser known wonders. One of which is a Photographic Toning option in the Gradient Editor.

It's lesser known for a reason. Not only is it obscure, but the only way you'll even see it is by clicking on the tiny gear icon on the Presets panel of the dialog box.

To imprint the new feature on our memory, we thought we'd try it on our bridge image.

So we added a Gradient Map adjustment layer (making it easy to turn the effect on or off) and clicked on the displayed gradient. Then we clicked the gear icon to set Photographic Toning and looked at our options.

The options are displayed as small squares with the darker tone in the top left and the lighter tone in the bottom right. But as you scroll through them you see they become more complex, offering multiple colors for the different tones.

You might, that is, have black for the shadows but blue for the lighter shadows and pink for the midtones and yellow for the highlights. That's split toning. Tones are represented by at least two different colors.

That's a bit beyond the more familiar sepia toning where, in its simplest form, one color is used throughout the image. Or even a duotone effect (mimicking the graphics arts technique) in which the image is enriched by using a darker color for shadow detail and a lighter one for highlights. On a duotone, that darker color disappears in the highlights and the lighter color goes 100 percent through the shadows.

In digital split toning, there's certainly overlap between adjacent colors on the tonal scale but they aren't obliged to range as far. The effect can be quite dramatic. And, in fact, our bridge black and white suddenly took on an aged color chrome appearance when we used a black-red-blue-yellow option. The Epson R3000 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/epson-r3000/index.htm) has a photo of both posters.

This version of the poster had more generous one-inch borders, which we were anxious to evaluate on paper. So we printed the strange image and let it dry for a few hours to see what we thought about it.

There's nothing quite like leaving a print out in plain sight to see how you feel about it.

It was, at first, pretty eerie. The sky, all highlights, had a golden glow from the yellow. The bridge, which was dark but not black, actually printed red. And the water, which was midtones, seemed blue. That's how it acquired the aged color chrome appearance.

Like the black and white version, it might have been taken in 1937. And that's definitely part of the design.

As if, we should say, adventures like this can be said to have a design at all!

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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: Grinding Noise

I have a Canon 9500 Mark II have been using it for two and a half years. It makes great black and white prints especially on Epson traditional fiber paper. About two weeks ago it started making a loud noise when it ejects the paper. And it keeps getting louder. I talked to Canon in Germany and they could not help me except to tell me to send it in to have it repaired. Have you ever heard of this condition? It still prints well.

I have been reading your newsletter for some time and find it very interesting even for me who is still pretty much hooked on film. I am also not a lover of the square format, I have had Rolleis and Yashicas in the past but almost always had trouble getting everything onto the negatives that I wanted there. The only exception are pictures that I took at the Worlds Fair in N.Y. in 1964. Nine of them are in the Queens museum of Art. I especially enjoyed your article on Arthur Tress. I had some friends going to San Francisco a bit after the article appeared and I told them to go see the exhibition, which they did. They loved it, bought the book and even brought me one.

Maybe you can shed some light on my problem with the Canon Printer.

-- Stephen Levine

(Thanks for the kind words, Stephen! One thing you might try is to remove the paper, turn the printer on holding the paper feed button down until the status light blinks a few times before releasing it. On some models that triggers a paper path feed clearing routine that might help. -- Editor)

RE: Air Forcing the Issue

On the strength of your review I bought a 9000F to work alongside my Plustek 8200i, one for MF and the other 135. I'm not unhappy with the Canon but scans from 135 on the Plustek are objectively of a much higher quality due in part to the limited effective resolution of the 9000F. It's a shame your review doesn't measure the scanner's effective resolution.

-- Adam Kingston

(Scanner resolution is a more complex issue than digital camera resolution. But "effective" resolution is a can of worms all its own. Rather than scanning charts for comparisons in which variables can't be controlled, we scan real film images in the review. They are, in a word, meaningful examples. If you download and examine the scans made from 35mm film, you should not be surprised at the results you get from your own film.... It's a different approach than scanning the USAF1951 target but it lets you be the judge. -- Editor)

RE: File Naming Problem

My D5100 created two folders yesterday on a reformatted card. The first six files in the second folder had the same file names as the last six in the first folder. They were not the same images.

Have you ever heard of this problem?

-- Bob Mark

(Well, you have two options for file naming. You can start from scratch with each new folder or you can continue on (sequential file numbering, or some such option). Setting sequential file numbering on will prevent the duplication, regardless of folder. -- Editor)

Sequential file numbering is already set. Only six numbers were duplicated in the second folder (last six in first folder match first six in second folder).

-- Bob Mark

(Well, obviously that shouldn't happen with sequential numbering on. Once a filename has been used, it isn't available in any folder. I'm not aware of a firmware update to address this issue. Readers? -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has added a free Basic Edition which supports a wide variety of flatbed and film scanners with basic scanning features but not IT8 color calibration, support for ICC profiles or support for color spaces.


Canon (http://facebook.com/canonUSA) has announced video workshops have been added to its Canon Photography in the Parks Program for 2012, which provides free equipment loans and professional instruction in a guided walking photo tour.

The company (http://www.usa.canon.com) has added Photo Paper Pro Luster, a 255 gsm sheet in letter and Super B sizes to its line of photo papers.


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released its $75 RAW Developer 1.9.5 [M] with support for new cameras, bug fixes and other improvements. Processing for all Sigma cameras, which includes the SD1, has been completely overhauled as well.


Adobe (http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/kb/security-update-photoshop.html) has released a security update for Photoshop CS5/CS5.1 [MW].


Tiffen (http://www.tiffen.com) has released its $2.99 Photo fx 5.0 (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 4.3 or later) and $4.99 Tiffen Photo fx Ultra 5.0 iPad running iOS 4.3 or later), enhancing the extensive filter set with sharing features.


Bosstrap (http://www.bosstrap.com) has introduced two narrower, lightweight sling straps for cameras weighing up to three lbs. and an "ultra light" hand band.


CRU-DataPort (http://www.cru-dataport.com) is now shipping it $349 ToughTech Duo 3SR, which adds USB 3.0 to the portable RAID storage system.


Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $39.95 GraphicConverter 8.1 [M] with support for 16-bit/channel images, map support, ExifTool 8.93 and more.


Get 18 Paul Strand reproductions for just $7 with the current issue of The Threepenny Review (http://www.threepennyreview.com/current.html).


Take a tip from Stanley Greene (http://pdnpulse.com/2012/06/look3-report-stanley-greene-on-luck-film-and-supporting-young-photographers.html), "You don't take your eye off [your subject,]" he said, "You have eye contact and that's respect. When you start to chimp, you're not thing about them anymore."


Need a vacation but just can't get away? Visit Venice with George Jardine (http://mulita.com/blog/?s=venice). It's free, too.

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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:

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Happy snapping!

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