The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 14, Number 16 10 August 2012

Copyright 2012, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 338th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We order a metal print and compare it to our paper version before we put the Nikon P510 to work. Then we kick back with a free online jigsaw puzzle app before explaining an old mystery. Chill!


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 O N Y

Share Your Perspective
With The Sony a77 Camera

At 24.3-Mp resolution with an incredible 12 fps, it's the best in its class.

Get action photos, HD movies and Live View shots, all powered by second generation Translucent Mirror Technology.

Learn more at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?sy7

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 HSM in 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: Everything's Aluminum -- Even Prints!

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/metal-prints/index.htm on the Web site.)

We've worried about a lot of things happening to our prints in the decades we've been making them. Browning, fading, scratches, tears, folds. But we've never worried about getting dents in them. Until now.

Recently we had a metal print made from one of our favorite images. As a favorite image, we of course had already made a luscious print of it. And we were curious to see how the new breed of mail-order metal print would compare.

So we had one made. And now we're worried about dents, too.

CHOICES

There are a few options for putting your image on metal.

DigitalArtStudio (http://www.digitalartstudioseminars.com), for example, shows how to coat a sheet of ordinary aluminum flashing to make it printable in a wide format printer. It's an interesting technique for fine art printing, but far more work than we had in mind.

Instead, we were half surprised to find dye sublimation printing making a stand in this field. Half surprised because we knew from our days printing on Fargo and Hi-Ti dye sub printers that it's the perfect method of transferring an image to an unusual surface. Like a T-shirt or a coffee mug.

The surprising part was that dye sub was making a comeback. It's dye-based after all, and among the more fugitive ways to imprint something, without even the protection of a paper's swellable gel coating.

As a novelty item like a T-shirt or a coffee mug that wouldn't be an issue. But when it comes to a more permanent installation like a metal print, we start to worry.

THE PROCESS

The dye sub process is pretty simple.

In the version of this game that we've played, your image is printed in reverse without a coating layer to a transfer sheet (a paper print) by heating a special dye impregnated into a ribbon to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

At that temperature, the dyes go from a solid to a gas without becoming liquid. They migrate into the transfer sheet. That's the sublimation process.

These days, you can also print these inks to a transfer sheet using an ordinary inkjet printer outfitted with special dye sublimation inks (http://www.bestblanks.com).

Either way, you next apply the sheet with pressure to a specially-coated object (although T-shirts and mouse pads don't require coating). That package is then heated again to migrate the dyes from the transfer sheet to the object.

Aluminum panels require a special coating to accept the gaseous dyes. The porous polymer coating opens slightly at high temperature and closes back down when cooled, capturing the dyes.

In fact, the polymer can be either white or clear and you can have your choice of finishes, too. Those include high gloss or satin on white coatings and gloss or matte on clear coatings.

That coating requirement, if not the heating one, is what makes doing this at home a bit difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of photofinishers who can handle it for you.

COST

Compared to a paper print from a custom lab, a metal print is expensive. While a 4x6 might run $11, an 8x10 is $20, an 11x14 $42 and a 16x20 is $65 at the nearest lab to us that does them. This particular lab uses Chromaluxe products (http://www.chromaluxe.com), which are used by a number of labs internationally (http://www.chromaluxe.com/find-a-lab/).

There are extra charges for mounting blocks (which you'll apply to the back), rounded corners ($2), drilling and shipping options. And you can also order different die-cut shapes from Chromaluxe labs.

But we also priced a 16x20 (their minimum) at $129.52 from Image Wizards (http://www.imagewizards.net), which has their own AluminArte process. And there are other labs to choose from as well.

WE TRY IT

So what do you get for your money? And what about longevity?

To find out, we emailed an image of a carousel horse to Chromaluxe in Louisville, Kentucky to be printed on an 8x10 panel with a high gloss finish on white.

The specs were pretty straightforward. The color space had to be sRGB, the resolution had to be 300 dpi and the size 8x10.

The limited sRGB color space requirement bothered us a little. For our finest images, we work in Adobe RGB. But sRGB is the default capture color mode digicams use these days, so it's a safe choice. Fortunately, though, Image Wizards accepts Adobe RGB files.

It was no trouble to convert our colorful image to sRGB, set the resolution to 300-dpi and crop to an 8x10. We saved the JPEG and emailed it off.

A few days later our 8x10 metal print arrived in a corrugated box wrapped in a foam envelope. A small mounting stand was inserted behind the panel in the same envelope, falling out as we removed the print. That surprised us and might have led to some inadvertent damage, so beware.

The metal print itself is stiff, using a .045-inch thick sheet of aluminum.

We were immediately surprised by how well the metal print matched our Epson R3000 pigment glossy paper print. Much is made of the vibrancy of metal prints but we didn't really notice, even though we were comparing dyes to pigments. Epson's UltraChrome K3 pigments, in this case.

The metal print was a bit more yellow, though.

Of more concern was that about an eighth inch of the image was cropped all the way around. So if your crop is important, leave about that much extra image to go borderless.

MOUNTING

There is, apparently, no need to put a metal print behind glass, although some labs will frame them for you. A special UV-resistant coating makes them "scratch resistant" and protects them from the elements (including water). Direct sun is not recommended, of course.

Image Wizards claims their AluminArte prints have an image life of 50 years, with test results available from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Chromaluxe claims "your images will last for generations without warping or yellowing with age."

Chromaluxe has also published a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74hPE9Nvt54) designed to amuse if not reassure you.

That's much shorter than a typical dye or pigment based paper print but a good deal longer than the dye sublimation prints we used to make.

Our print came with a small aluminum stand with a slot on top and scored both above and below a small adhesive square to make it easy to bend. Chromaluxe recommends letting the adhesive cure 24 hours after you stick the stand on. Pretty rudimentary but functional. There are other options, like a block to offset the panel from the wall. Plastic bumpers in the corners are not a bad idea either.

The easel is our least favorite approach. These are metal prints after all and the metal isn't edged in any protective material to avoid scratching your heirloom IKEA furniture.

But then, how long is that adhesive going to hold the metal print on your wall before it lets go and your print gouges a nice divot in your hardwood floor?

Still, that floating mount would be our preference. As long as it hangs up there, it would hang up there very impressively.

Image Wizards seems to be a little more comprehensive about mounting, offering either a wire attached to an anodized aluminum frame or its security mount system, which locks the image onto the wall via brackets on the top and locking bolts along the bottom of the print. A float mount is also available.

MAINTENANCE

With the print exposed to the air and malicious backpacks swinging around the room, you might wonder what you can do to care for them.

The scratch-resistant coating is just that: resistant. You can indeed scratch the surface. But then, you can scratch those shiny piano black plastic finishes on today's printers with nothing more than a cotton cleaning cloth.

Image Wizards recommends cleaning their metal prints with "a microfiber towel for the best results along with isopropyl alcohol or Meguiar's Cleaner Wax." We've also heard of using Windex to clean them, but we wouldn't dare.

Our own recommendation is not to come any closer than you can get with a can of compressed air. You can't be too careful.

EVALUATION

Visitors to our bunker liked the metal print very much. It's a little as if the paper print is a Toyota and the metal print a Lexus. It just seems so much nicer.

We're not sure if the warmer tint was intentional or not. As a portrait photographer once confided to us, a little warmth never hurts. It wasn't accurate but we wouldn't make much of that since it didn't come from a lab. Same point about the crop. Worth keeping in mind when you're working with your lab. Easy to make too much of in this manufacturer-supplied test case.

Still it's a nice product. And quite affordable if more expensive than paper. But you expect a Lexus to cost more than a Toyota.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon Coolpix P510 Shooter's Report

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon_p510/nikon_p510A.HTM on the Web site.)

Right out of the box, the Nikon Coolpix P510 charmed us enough that we put it to work, photographing the Adobe Creative Suite 6 and Creative Cloud launch event at the de Young Museum where that 42x zoom and its good low light performance were particularly helpful.

In fact, that's the salient point about the Nikon P510. It combines some impressive features into photographic capabilities that set it apart. We took it on hikes, into auditoriums, to the ballpark, to the beach. Everywhere we went the Nikon P510 combined a few features to provide the answer for the situation.

STATS

We took just over 300 images with the Nikon P510 in a few weeks under a variety of conditions. Bright sun, overcast, indoor, auditorium, stadium lighting. More than the usual venues.

We used ISO 100 for 133 images, ISO 400 only 13 times (with ISO 110 used 12 times), ISO 800 second at 78 times and ISO 1600 third at 25 times. ISO 800 is the new ISO 400, it would seem. But the P510 spent a lot of time at its base ISO.

Shutter speeds showed 59 exposures at 1/60 second, far ahead in first place. There were 28 at 1/500 but that was a crowded neighborhood. The P510 seems to adjust shutter speed to fine-tune exposure more than ISO.

Aperture and focal length were tied to each other as we spent a lot of time at the extremes of the focal length range, dictating aperture. At wide-angle (4.3mm) we had 24 shots and at telephoto (180mm) we had 37 with fairly even distribution in between, although there was a crowd around 71-84mm. So apertures were 17 at f3.0 (wide open at wide-angle) and 33 at f5.9 (wide open at telephoto). We had 38 at f4.8, though. That must be the sweet spot.

ZOOM RANGE

We did have to crank back a bit from full telephoto quite often. We found we were cropping not composing our subject. That 1,000mm reach is quite a luxury.

Notice we didn't say 42x reach. The zoom multiplier is relative to the wide-angle focal length. The wider that wide-angle is, the farther away that multiplier leaves you.

Starting from 24mm, like the Nikon P510 does, you need 42x to get to 1,000mm. This is really the first lens that covers that much territory.

And yes, we were able to hand-hold 1,000mm in the sense that Vibration Reduction delivered sharp shots -- but we weren't able to compose very well at that focal length.

FOCUS

We've been shooting long zooms since they were invented so our perspective on autofocus is forgiving. Autofocus has been so difficult to achieve quickly on a long zoom (let alone a superzoom like the Nikon P510) that we would often recommend setting focus manually to infinity.

The Nikon P510 did now and then have trouble finding focus. But we're not about to recommend setting it on infinity. We're just going to remind you to pre-focus. So if it does have trouble, you'll know before you miss the shot. And if it can't focus, just let up on the Shutter button and try again, perhaps pointing a little off your composition. If that doesn't work, change the focal length (a little wider) by zooming out a smidge. It should be able to find focus.

Recent cameras have annoyed us with their inability to autofocus. The Nikon P510 isn't anything like that and sometimes it finds focus immediately.

We were more than puzzled, however, that our old solution of setting focus manually to infinity is only available in Sports mode. The manual says it's also available in PASM and U modes too, but some other setting we like must have negated it there because we never did see MF on the Focus mode (Down) button in those modes.

SHOOTING

Our first images were flowers in bright sun. There are a couple of sticks that are really a young apple tree and some rosemary and a few trumpet plants that show some fun separation between the subject and the background. You don't usually get that effect with a digicam but the Nikon P510 delivered.

Those shots also show the natural color that flies in the face of the oversaturated images designed to stun the sort of people who don't read these reviews.

That really came out on our trip up Twin Peaks for the zoom series. The shot of the bleached logs uses a palette that holds the blue of the sky, the orange of the poppies and the green of the hills while remaining realistic. That shot often blows up like fireworks but the Nikon P510 holds it remarkably well.

There are some long shots taken from the top of the hill that suffer a bit from the atmospheric haze. It would have been great to pop a filter on that long lens to minimize that. You can, of course, do a little work on those images after the fact, but this lens is designed to shoot distant objects and a filter thread on the front would have been a bright idea.

When we took some indoor shots we got our first glimpse of the high ISO performance. And it was pretty good. You might suspect the backlit sensor is the hero here, but we suspect the Expeed 2 processor is doing some intelligent noise reduction too. Without losing detail, though. The Nikon P510 seems to show a bit better sense of where to draw the line than we've seen in a superzoom before.

The orchids are a good example. There's texture in the petals, but the wall in the background, slightly blurred, is not noisy at ISO 400.

We were comfortable enough with the Nikon P510 to take it to Adobe's Creative Suite 6 and Creative Cloud launch event at the de Young Museum. It wasn't the only camera we took, but it made the team because that lens was going to get us close and that low-light performance was going to get us a usable image. We weren't disappointed.

That gallery has some shots both from the auditorium and later at the press conference. Note that most of them are ISO 1600 and those that aren't are at very slow shutter speeds (like 1/13 second) where the Vibration Reduction optical stabilization delivered a sharp shot. We used Auto ISO on this occasion, hoping to get some shots that were not ISO 1600.

Those shots are a good example of what we most appreciated about the Nikon P510. And that is how well its various technologies worked together to deliver an acceptable image. And don't think the word "acceptable" is used disparagingly here. On the contrary, subtract one of those things (the zoom range, the low light performance, optical stabilization) and you have no usable image at all, which is what we're used to.

The one difficult shoot we experienced was Goldsworthy's Spire in the Presidio. It's made of discarded trees that stretch upward from a bundle into a single log. The wood is dark, the sky is bright and it was tough to get the shot.

Later we found out why we had so much trouble. Active D-Lighting was off. We always turn it on when we get a Nikon here to review and forget about it. We had assumed it was active.

There are two shots of a ticket booth that vary only in the D-Lighting setting. You can see that the difference it makes matters.

We took the Nikon P510 to Ocean Beach to shoot some enthusiast surfers. We'd recently been there with the Fujifilm X-S1, which was recalled for a sensor replacement. We really liked what the much more expensive X-S1 was giving us, but the Nikon P510 gives it a run for its money. We wish we had them both on the same day to eliminate the conditions as a factor for a better comparison. But it's interesting to compare the shots of the two surfers.

We could have spent all day at the beach with either camera, but the Nikon P510 would have let us bring lunch.

Admittedly we had great seats at the ballpark. Lower boxes, row 20 on a line from third to first base. It's a great elevation (we're not looking down at the players) and angle (easy to frame the guys behind the plate, get the runner at first, follow the pitcher).

Hard to do all that with a beer in one hand and peanuts in the other, though. And the P510 doesn't make it easier, we're sad to report. Nor did the extremely tall guys sitting in row 19.

But that's where the articulated LCD came in handy. We could raise the camera over their heads and still compose the shot, angling the LCD so we could see it.

We used a variety of settings at the park, but one we fixed on was ISO at 800. Night ball is not bright and things move fast. So our preference was to raise ISO for a quicker shutter speed. We stayed in Program mode, knowing the aperture was going to shift with the focal length (staying as wide open as possible) and accepting whatever shutter speed the camera needed at high ISO.

Beyond that, though, we tried a couple of release options. We prefer to anticipate the action -- and in baseball that ain't hard. The pitcher has his windup, the catcher hops into his stance, the ump bending over him and in a second the ball arrives. We didn't need the pre-cache release mode to catch the action. But it's there if you need it.

But we used Continuous H (for its full resolution if Normal image quality setting) to capture the various stages of the windup and a swing or two at the plate. It works, but we really don't like not seeing the progression. With an optical viewfinder, we could see the scene as the camera captured it. With the Nikon P510's EVF or its LCD, you get the first capture but that's all you see. It's a little like the camera has hung. It hasn't, but you have to go into Playback to see what you did. And if the guy is sliding into second, you're missing the action.

We also used high speed video at 120 frames per second to capture a windup (above). We could have spent all night doing that. That and the beer slow the game down.

The next day we imported the baseball images into Lightroom and cropped and tweaked to print some 5x7s. We could easily crop just the catcher from the batter with no loss in quality. That's the 16-Mp sensor providing generous detail.

We thought we were done shooting with the Nikon P510, but interestingly enough we hadn't taken any Macro shots. The long reach of that lens was just too much fun to think close-up.

So we put it in Program mode, set the lens to Macro using the Down arrow on the Scroll wheel and took a shot just inches away from our bronze monkey in a box.

You do have to set the lens at the wide-angle end to focus, but that isn't unusual. Helpfully, Nikon includes a Macro icon that turns green when you're in range.

But what we really liked -- and what illustrates the synergy of features in the Nikon P510 -- was that in Program mode the P510 displayed the shutter speed and aperture. So finding the aperture a bit shallow for the subject, we were able to click the Command dial to a better combination.

That meant we were using a slower shutter speed but Vibration Reduction kept it shootable. And to get even more depth of field, all we had to do was crank up the Nikon P510's ISO, which was certainly usable at higher settings.

Yes, more than the usual venues. Auditorium, beach, stadium, even a little box on our desk. But the Nikon P510 handled them all well.

SAMPLE IMAGES

You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS//nikon_p510/nikon_p510A7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS//nikon_p510/nikon_p510GALLERY.HTM.

CONCLUSION

It used to be that shooting with a superzoom meant compromising. With each new generation of superzoom, though, fewer compromises are required.

With the Nikon P510 we were, for the first time, not keeping score so much as exploring a new way to see. It wasn't just the 1,000mm equivalent reach of the lens, either. It was the results we got at ISO 800 and 1,600. And the detail the 16-Mp sensor captured. No doubt it was also the serious polishing the image processor was doing before it wrote the JPEGs to our card.

Nikon didn't scrimp on the release modes either. They're tuned to action photography, whether it's sports or birding. And the video modes are comprehensive, too.

The Nikon P510 handles exceptionally well. The camera's size, weight and grip felt great, both while shooting and even just carrying it around. It isn't heavy, but it has the heft you need to stabilize the shot. The controls are right where you expect them to be and they function smoothly.

Even when you need to dip into the menu system it's a pleasant experience, which is saying something.

The Nikon P510 is greater than the sum of its parts, in short. And that means instead of debating compromises, you gain a new way to see the world. Which, in our book, certainly merits a Dave's Pick.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Solve Summer With Your Own Free Jigsaw Puzzle

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

The puzzle of what to do all summer has just been solved by Carolina Road Software with its Jigsaw Explorer (http://www.jigsawexplorer.com) Web app. Good thing it's already August, because we've already spent too much time selecting images, exploding them into online jigsaw puzzles and meticulously putting them back together again.

But there's a good reason to take a look at this, too.

You can publicize your photography with them. The site gives credit and links on both puzzle pages and within the program to photographers who share their images. At the moment that's mainly Flickr photographers posting images under the Creative Commons license. The company hopes players "will use those links to visit the photographers' pages and leave a comment on their photos if you are a Flickr member."

How can you lose?

FEATURES

Using some clever software based on Microsoft's Silverlight technology, Carolina Road Software delivers an unusually pleasant online gaming experience featuring:

You don't have to use your own images, of course. The site includes over 1,200 puzzles in a variety of categories.

But it's easy to use your own. You don't actually upload the image, either. It remains where you have it but Jigsaw Explorer manages to work with it anyway.

You can, however, easily share your image as a puzzle just by providing a URL to it (from Flickr, say, or your own Web site) and any attribution you'd like. Only the file's location is required by the application.

And it's free, at least for the moment. Carolina Road Software said "a premium service level will be added at a later date."

THE OLD COLLEGE TRY

We have to admit we just hate games. Our sister-in-law always wins. And gallantry, after a few years, enjoys only diminishing returns. Games. Yuck.

But even people like us who don't like games often don't mind squandering away a few precious moments with a jigsaw puzzle. Real jigsaw puzzles are a nuisance, though, with lost pieces, sacrosanct real estate requirements and no time limit (which is often an issue when dinner is about to hit the table).

So we gave it a try. No table to clear, no worry about missing pieces and our own generic Carousel Horse image. We chose that one because it was handy and it has a lot of detail, so we can easily tell what goes where. We thought.

We launched the Player (http://www.jigsawexplorer.com/online-jigsaw-puzzle-player.html) and clicked the Open option. That opened a file browser on our system ready to load a JPEG, PNG or JIGSAW file (more about that later). We picked the horse.

It's a 300-dpi, sRGB, 8x10 image that takes up 1.1-MB on our disk. The Player loaded it instantly and showed us the scattered pieces -- nine columns by 12 rows or 108 pieces. You can set the number of pieces and whether or not they're rotated when you open the puzzle.

THE MENU

The unobtrusive menu at the top of the window has a Save option so you can save the puzzle in the JIGSAW format to load later and resume playing. There's also an Edges option to hide (or show) interior pieces so you can get the edge pieces done first.

The Captured option lets you work with "captured" pieces apart from the rest of them. You capture a piece by clicking on it with the Shift key down or a set of pieces by drawing a selection around them with the Shift key down. You release them by clicking away from them with the Shift key down. Why would you do this? To arrange pieces quickly in groups (like top edge, bottom edge, etc.).

The Box Top option briefly shows you the completed image for reference. We had a print handy but if you don't, just grab the box top for a look.

The Help option explains everything to you, but you probably won't need it. There are also Hints available when you hold the H key down over a piece. A matching piece will wiggle for you.

And there are a few other niceties like Full Screen Mode, which expands the browser window to fill your screen, a Rotate Pieces function, and a Pin Pieces function, which locks the piece to its position.

There are even a few key commands but, frankly, this was all drag and drop for us. We had enough trouble finding pieces that fit together.

PLAYING

With the pieces scattered around the window, we managed to recognize a few objects and started connected their pieces, laying the connected sections out roughly in the middle of the window as we went along.

A little screen icon shows up when you align matching pieces and nice locking sound confirms your intelligence.

It wasn't easy at first, even when we figured out it would be smart to do the edges first. Most surprising of all was how hard it was to find the most distinguishing and important features of the image -- like the horse's eye and mouth. In fact, the horse's head was the last thing we figured out.

But things went faster the more pieces we connected, of course, and in a while (much longer than we expected), we'd put our carousel horse back together again.

At which point, we were greeted by a chorus of applause from the silhouetted figures that suddenly appeared at the bottom of the window. Told you it was an unusually pleasant online gaming experience.

LAST WORDS

Rarely are we so charmed by such a simple pleasure so well conceived and executed. If this had been available years ago on the three-hour car trip into the Sierras to Lake Tahoe our family of four boys used to endure each August, we would gladly have given up torturing our little brothers to solve another jigsaw puzzle. One of our baseball team or a family reunion or anything at all we might have had a photograph of.

But even now, this is a another way to get your brand out there as a photographer. And you can't have too many of those these days.

Like we said, you can't lose.

Return to Topics.

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:

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Sensor Size, Image Size, File Size, Oh My

"Surely I can't be the only one who's wondered about this," we frequently read in our email.

"No, you're not alone," we almost as frequently reply.

That's when we get to work, opening a new file to compose an article on that very subject to bring everyone up to speed at the same time.

Which is what we were sure we'd done about the famous File Size issue. Except, no, we'd just assumed everyone knew the difference between file sizes and images sizes.

But when you're new to digital imaging, whether you're scanning a print or shooting a family portrait, you may wonder why that 45-MB image your 16-Mp camera captured turns out to be around four megapixels on your hard disk.

To start at the beginning, that 16-Mp badge on your digicam doesn't refer to file size. That 16 is a reference to the effective or total (let's not be too picky while there are ad men lurking) megapixels of the camera's sensor.

Those 16 megapixels on the sensor are taking a few shortcuts, too. Each sensor site is filtered, about half of them are green, a quarter red and the other quarter blue. The image processor in the camera uses the adjacent filtered data to guess what three color values should be represented by any particular pixel. A blue pixel might look around to see what kind of green and red values are hanging with him and concoct a compatible green and red value to add to its blue. So it triples the data captured by your 16-Mp sensor in divining a red, green and blue value for each pixel.

On a scanner, there's no divining. The sensor moves down the image recording an individual red, green and blue value for each spot. But it takes its time.

This gives you a large scan size or triple the megapixels of your camera sensor.

Then you or your camera or your smart phone save that image as a JPEG. And that compresses all that data. Which is why it's never much smaller when you compress it further with a compression utility. You determine how much it's compressed by selecting the Image Quality. Compression is often expressed as a ratio (like 1:4 or 1:8).

But a compression ratio is not quite so cut and dried as a simple formula. Some areas of an image may be more compressible than others. Where there's a lot of detail, there won't be as much compression as in a cloudless blue sky.

So a 4608x3456 image size yields 15,925,248 pixels per channel or a 47,775,744 RGB image size, which in turn may require only a 3.5-MB file size (like the one we're looking at right now). This image is half blue sky, so though we've only set a 1:4 compression ratio, we're doing a good deal better, about 13:1.

You see the full file size when you open an image file in your image editing software. It blooms fully in RAM.

And aspect ratio is another factor, of course. It changes the image size.

The same camera shooting a 16:9 instead of a 4:3 aspect ratio has a 2592x4608 image size that yields 11,949,936 pixels per channel or a 35,831,808 RGB image size, which in turn requires a 4.2-MB file size. But this more detailed indoor image only achieves a 1:8 compression ratio.

We did write a nice little treatise on JPEG compression in our March 24, 2000 issue, called "JPEG Revealed" (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). And you might find our Resolution Calculator in our "New Year's Resolutions" article in the Dec. 17, 1999 issue helpful, too. It beats doing the math in your head.

But the short explanation for why your sensor is one size and your image files another is simply compression. And since the data is triple the sensor size, that compression is a blessing.

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

Read about the CanoScan 9000F at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eeb0378

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

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

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: Ink Quality?

Thanks for another stellar edition. My inbox doesn't get this level of quality reading from anywhere else!

As I read the section on printer paper I wondered about ink quality. There has been a quiet (yet rather noisy) explosion of cheap ink producers/Webstores lately and it is hard not to grab a few cheapies to see if they are for real. Canon is my printer right now and I am curious to know if "genuine" really means that there is a secret ingredient that insures successful application which simultaneously makes my printer work flawlessly? Since we do not get ingredients lists on the ink cartridges has anyone really tested this stuff?

-- Paul J. Brown

(There's actually quite a bit of chemistry going on in a dye ink, apart from the quality of the ingredients themselves. A cheaper ink may not use ingredients of the same grade nor formulate the ink with as many components (some of which are designed for a stable shelf life, to minimize clogging, to lubricate the print head nozzles, etc.). The worst thing that can be said about them is that they aren't profiled. So unless you want to profile every set you buy, you won't print what you see on the monitor. Typically the cheaper inks fade more quickly, too. -- Editor)

RE: iPhone Photo Editing

I find myself using my iPhone a lot these days. I also find myself laboriously transferring my "real" photos to my iPad for editing. I'm not very good with Photoshop and it's faster and fun to see Photo Toaster or Snapseed can do.

I notice that many are using multiple apps to process their photos. My question is how does that affect photo quality? I know that the more times a JPEG is edited the worse is gets. Does the same hold true with app editing?

I read multiple photo blogs and articles but have never seen this subject addressed.

Thanks! And thanks for the great newsletter!

-- Chris Flyzik

(The short answer is you've got it right: every time you save a JPEG, image quality is compromised. And by using different apps on the same file, you are obliged to save the image (and perform the lossy JPEG dance) multiple times. -- Editor)

RE: The List

Not too long ago you published a list of five point-and-shoot cameras you thought were good. At the time I made a list of them for future reference since I wasn't planning any trips. But you know how list are -- you need a list to find all the lists I've made and forgot where they were/are

Anyhow I'm suddenly going on a cruise to New England, Nova Scotia and Canada for a 25th anniversary celebration and I know there will be great picture opportunities.

I'd appreciate it if you would give me a reference to that list -- and any newcomers that might be appropriate too.

-- Bob McCormick

(Shawn wrote a Travel Zoom Shootout (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TRAVELZOOM/TRAVELZOOMA.HTM) but our only list, Bob, is the annual Camera Gift Guide (Nov. 18, 2011 issue). Take a look at the Pocket Digicams (the first group) where the LX7 would replace the LX5 but otherwise looks current. The Megazooms are bigger cameras but have great optics (the SX40 may be a little softer than the others, though). The P500 has been superceded by the P510 and a few of the others may have been updated. And the Travel Companions (which have GPS) are worth a peek, too.... But frankly, unless you want a long zoom or GPS or a very small camera, we'd look at the Compact System Cameras for their superior quality. We don't list it in the Guide but the Olympus E-PL1 (four years old already) can often be found for under $200 with the kit lens, which has to qualify as the bargain of the century.... Congrats on your 25th, too! No small achievement. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

About two hours after landing on Mars and beaming back its first image, NASA's Curiosity rover transmitted a higher-resolution image of its new Martian home, Gale Crater. The black-and-white, 512x512-pixel image was taken by Curiosity's rear-left Hazcam (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/msl5.html).


Nikon announced the Nikon 1 J2 camera, the 1 NIKKOR 11-27.5mm f3.5-5.6 lens (http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/08/09/nikon-j2-unveiled-new-1-series-mirrorless-lens-underwater-housing) and the L610, an AA-powered Coolpix megazoom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/08/09/nikon-launches-affordable-new-travel-zoom-digicam).


Adobe has released Configurator 3.1 [MW] for building custom panels for Photoshop CS5/6 and InDesign CS5/6 (http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/configurator.html).

The company has also been dabbling in Halide (http://halide-lang.org), "a new programming language designed to make it easier to write high-performance image processing code on modern machines."


Roaring Apps (http://roaringapps.com) "brings you a collaborative wiki community to track, discuss and dissect application compatibility and feature support for OS X an iOS." Its Mountain Lion compatibility list is particularly useful at the moment.


Boinx Software (http://www.boinx.com) has posted a public beta of Fotomagico 4 [M] with support for multiple layers, a new timeline for fine-tuned control over slides, improved audio syncing and a sleeker and more intuitive user experience. Sign up at http://boinx.com/fotomagico/beta/ to download the beta.


SSoftltd.com (http://ssoftltd.com) has released Aperture Duplicate Detector for both Aperture and iPhoto to locate duplicate images using either Simple Detection (requires presorting and compares one image to the next) or Comprehensive Detection (requires no sorting and compares every image to every other).


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released Optics Pro v7.5.3 [MW] with support for the Canon EOS 650D and Sony NEX-F3/SLT-A37 plus 300 new optics modules.


Rocky Nook has published its $34.95 Great Photos -- Simple Cameras: From Holga to Pinhole by Bernd Daub showing how "simple camera techniques, traditional film and some imagination can create ambitious artwork." The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 29 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937538028/?tag=theimagingres-20).

The company has also published its $24.95 Sixty Tips for Creative iPhone Photography by Martina Holmberg with two guest galleries of photos by Dominique James and Uwe Steinmueller. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 23 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937538125/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Ward Chandler and Kent Speakman have released SeeMail (http://seeml.me/seemailme) to add voice notes to photographs and bring storytelling to social media.


LPA Design (http://www.pocketwizard.com) has updated its ControlTL firmware for both Nikon and Canon versions of its MiniTT1 and FlexTT5 radios with compatibility with more cameras and flash units, support for the Sekonic RT-32CTL module and a new optimized rear curtain sync utility control.


Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has updated Snapseed Desktop [MW] with new features like Undo and Resize, bug fixes and a free demo version.


StickyAlbums (http://www.stickyalbums.com), which creates branded photo album apps stored on a client's iOS or Android device, now allows clients to share their photographer-branded album apps directly to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


John Noerr found a Canon Rebel (http://poststar.com/news/local/i-think-i-found-your-camera-visual-clues-help-man/article_99e5d868-de8c-11e1-9838-0019bb2963f4.html) in a small creek, took out the SanDisk memory card and, after studying the 581 photos dating to June 2009, used Google Earth to locate and then tweet the sister of the photographer.


ACD Systems (http://www.acdsee.com) has released ACDSee Free [MW], a fast image viewer for scrolling, zooming and printing your images.

The company also released ACDSee Pro for Mac 2.1 with Mountain Lion support and a fix for an issue that prevented switching to Develop mode.


Plasq (http://www.plasq.com) has released Comic Life 2.2.3 [M] with Mountain Lion compatibility, a Blank template, improved compatibility with Aperture and iPhoto libraries, fixes for ePub and CBZ export, stability improvements and more.


How about an iPhone shutter grip (http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/iphone-shutter-grip)?


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.1.13 with support for new Canon scanners, Raw file rotation and bug fixes.


As Dick Cavett recently observed of Nora Ephron, "So frequently the wrong people die." In our small pond, it's been the death of Michael Evan Gross. He developed a writing tool called Spell Catcher we ran into as Thunder in 1987. We were at the West Coast Computer Faire and some wizened old geezer standing next to us at the booth promised we wouldn't regret buying it. He was right. It has watched over every key we've pressed on a Mac since then. That includes every word you've read in this newsletter. So we have, in that sense, all been the beneficiaries of his intelligence, competence and kindness. Forgive us for imagining he is laughing with Nora now, who must surely have been one of his many delighted customers. It's the only way we can feel better about it.

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
SLR Gear: http://www.slrgear.com
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/camera-reviews
Q&A Forum: http://www.photo-forums.com
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/BETTERPICS.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