|Volume 14, Number 19||21 September 2012|
Welcome to the 341st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. An $80 Lensbaby sparks our attention while Shawn gets a peek at his camera of the year and Michael details the Olympus E-PM2. Then we cover Canon's introduction of two new Pro-Series printers. One of our longest Letters columns finishes it off. Dig in!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/lensbaby-spark/index.htm on the Web site.)
There was something vaguely familiar about the new Lensbaby Spark selective focus lens. We scratched our head a while before we made the connection. Instead of the swivel ball of recent models, this Lensbaby goes back to the bellows design of the Lensbaby 2.0.
It isn't quite the same bellows. It's stiffer, for one thing. And Lensbaby hasn't forgotten its Optic Swap system. The Spark includes a multi-coated glass doublet optic and you can pop in other modules in the system. We tried the Fisheye optic, for example, and it worked just fine.
And the glass doublet isn't quite as elaborate as other modules. It doesn't have the internal apertures of the Sweet 35 and Edge 80 lenses or even the aperture disks of the standard modules. Instead it uses a fixed f5.6 aperture.
That's not too bad, we found, in practice. For one thing, it's bright enough to use either your LCD or optical viewfinder to focus without requiring you to use the LCD (which really wide apertures require). And for another, you can see the sweet spot pretty clearly.
The best thing about it, though, is that $80 price tag. That can put a clever selective focus optic into the hands of any Canon or Nikon dSLR owner.
The product specifications for the Lensbaby Spark are:
Our review unit came with the assembled two-piece lens in a cloth bag. To remove the optic, you need a special tool, which comes as the cap of the case for accessory optic swap modules. So when you actually need the tool, Lensbaby will give it to you.
- Focal Length: 50mm
- Aperture: fixed f5.6
- Optic: multi-coated glass doublet
- Focus type: manual
- Sweet spot, selective focus lens (creates a sweet spot of focus surrounded by gradually increasing blur)
- Available for Canon and Nikon mount dSLRs
- Focusing range: approximately 13" (33 cm) to infinity
- Compatible with Lensbaby Optic Swap System and all Lensbaby 37mm threaded accessory lenses.
Spark is available now from amazon.com (http://amazon.com), select specialty photo stores worldwide and from Lensbaby (http://www.lensbaby.com). Purchasing the Lensbaby Spark via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008FXYH3U/?tag=theimagingres-20) helps support reviews like this, by the way.
WHAT IT DOES
With the 50mm Spark, only a part of the scene is in focus (and we're not talking depth of field). You can move this circular sweet spot of focus up or down, left or right, even toward infinity or close-up by squeezing the bellows left, right, up, down, in or out. To focus up close, for example, push the flange out a bit.
The front flange of the Spark, with clever cut-outs for the company and product name, has been designed for you to get your fingers on it to do just that.
We had to rely on our right-hand pinky to work that side, since we were busy gripping the camera and fingering the Shutter button with our other fingers but it's workable.
As you manipulate the glass doublet optic by squeezing the bellows, you can follow focus in the viewfinder. This can be kind of fun. It isn't what you usually see through your viewfinder, after all. Instead, it's a little like aiming a spotlight on the important element of your scene.
And that's the fun of it, really. You explore the scene with focus yourself before deciding what to draw the viewer's attention to. Which is the creative part. In fact, "fun" and "creative" are two words you can expect to most find frequently used to describe the Spark.
"Spark sprouted from Lensbaby's fun and creative roots," said Craig Strong, Lensbaby chief creative officer and co-founder. "We crafted Spark for photographers who look to go beyond their predictable kit lens and experiment with visual spontaneity in-camera."
WHO IT'S FOR
The price tag may suggest this is a toy, but it's not just for kids. In fact, we thought it would be the perfect lens for your older camera body, offering a unique special effects perspective for event photography, for example.
The effect is simply that it lets you pick someone out of the crowd. It separates that person from everyone else with focus. Might not be a bad tool for street photography but it isn't very stealth-like to be looking through the viewfinder.
We didn't have a dSLR body to try this with, but it certainly functions in video mode, too. You may have to rehearse to get the effect right, but it won't hurt to start with a blurry scene and discover what's in it by finding focus.
Except for the glass in the optic, it seems to be made entirely of plastic (including the mount, but then so is our Canon kit lens) so it's surprisingly lightweight. And the big flange on the front makes it easy to use, too.
And that's lucky because with the bellows extended to its normal length, nothing at all is in focus. You have to start squeezing to see anything.
Even then focus can be elusive. You'll see it pop and then disappear, partly because the bellows is so stiff but also because, with that constant tension, it's hard to hold position. Just as it was with the Lensbaby 2.0.
It's important to use that diopter on the viewfinder to make sure it's in focus itself or you can drive yourself nuts, by the way.
Sometimes we found focus more than elusive. On occasion it seemed impossible. Nothing in the scene seemed to be in focus. We think that's a little like what happens when you get a new pair of glasses and it takes a while for your brain to learn how to use them. The proof was in the images on the computer. The lens did find focus even if we didn't notice.
USING THE LENS
The Golden Rules for manipulating the bellows are simple:
- Pull both sides in, collapsing the bellows, to focus further away.
- Push both sides out to focus closer.
- Pull any side in to shift the focus circle in that direction. So pull the left side in to move focus to the left side of your scene.
- Make small and slow adjustments or you might miss the effect entirely.
With a fixed aperture lens, Program mode (not to mention any other Auto mode) isn't going to cut it.
Instead, set your camera to Aperture Priority mode. That tells the camera not to worry about the lens aperture, you've got that covered. It will concentrate on setting exposure by adjusting the Shutter speed. That works fine.
Don't forget to keep an eye on the ISO, too. On some cameras you set this to a fixed value as you might have with film (ISO 100 or 400 or 800) while on others, you can let it float within a range (ISO 100-400, 100-1600).
The only leg of the three-legged exposure "tripod" (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) that your camera can't adjust with the Spark aboard is the aperture.
A selective focus lens isn't just a special effect. Yes, it blurs most of the frame. And that qualifies as a special effect.
But if that's all it did, you wouldn't be reading about it here. It would be useless. Who needs a lens that can't see straight?
In fact, though, a selective focus lens can see straight. But only a circle of the image is in focus. The size of that circle is determined by the aperture. And f5.6 gives you a pretty obvious circle of focus to move around. Which is not so shallow a depth of field that you'll have trouble with common subjects.
When you present a perfectly focused landscape to a viewer, say on an 11x14 print, they have to explore the image for significance. When you present that same image taken with a selective focus lens to them, they immediately know where to look.
A selective focus lens, in short, adds a mind to the camera's eye.
To illustrate this, we took the Spark to the site of the last duel (http://www.sfmuseum.net/hist6/broderick.html) in California. There Senator David Broderick was mortally wounded by former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California David Terry.
The site has two pillars representing the dueling positions of each man. There used to be a plaque on the hill to the north of them indicating where the crowd stood. But only the pillars are left at the site itself. A few signs at more public locations point the way and tell the story.
Nothing quite cries out for selective focus as a duel.
We were able to stand behind each pillar and focus on either the far pillar or the top of the near one. And the shift out of focus was dramatic, almost like light rays beaming from the circle in focus. Those beams were more out of focus the further into the scene you looked, too.
We were also able to stand at the side and focus on one or the other pillar. But when the second pillar was further away, the effect wasn't as noticeable. Then, too, a 50mm angle of view is barely wide enough to see them both from the side.
That's the obvious approach. But just photographing the pillars themselves is an excuse to be creative with focus. We shot the pillars focusing on the names (although, like Broderick, we missed Terry). And that's all that was in focus.
We didn't always hit the mark, as our example shots show, and it was sometimes hard to tell what was in focus and to hold that position while we pressed the Shutter button. But we had a pretty good batting average, only missing a few.
We had trouble mating our 37mm Lensbaby macro converter lenses to the front threads of the review unit. But Lensbaby confirmed that the converter lenses should fit the optic. So we gave it another shot.
It wasn't easy but we did manage to barely thread the converter lens onto the optic. The converter lens seemed to sink a bit into the optic, as we had noticed, but by gingerly fiddling with the converter, we were able to engage the threads.
The connection wasn't very secure, though. A quarter turn and the converter lens popped right out.
With radial blurs and tilt-shift filters now common in image editing software, you might wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just take that approach with a straight shot using a normal lens.
And you can simulate the effect (even the gradually increasing blur) but we find when it was created in the camera it's a lot more dramatic. That may be because creating it at the scene is more engaging that dealing with a 2D fait accompli.
Then, too, it was a lot more fun to do it in the field than in a chair.
A Lensbaby for $80 can make your heart tweet. Especially when it's compatible with the Optic Swap system. If you want to explore other apertures, you can just buy an optic that uses discs.
Whether it's a gift or a new job for your old camera body, the Spark is a good deal. And that's worth a round of applause.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx1/sony-rx1A.HTM on the Web site.)
Only a handful of cameras have made me want to utter expletives of happy astonishment. "Holy Moly, they finally did it!" I thought (paraphrased). Yes, it's real: Sony has shoehorned a full 35mm-sized sensor with a fairly fast 35mm prime lens into a nearly pocket-sized camera called the Sony Cyber-shot RX1. It's official: you can go ahead and think of "RX" as code for Rex, because the King of Small Cameras is here.
I'd been expecting a super-pro dSLR above the A99 (a camera we'd already seen, which was announced simultaneously), but I didn't expect a camera that would make all the early Sony RX100 buyers utter a few expletives of their own. But before you feel chagrined, note that the price of this 24.3-megapixel, full-frame, fixed-lens compact camera is a comparatively high $2,800. Whoa.
A few in the press room barely stifled a few guffaws at the price, because up to that point we'd been thinking it compared to the RX100, which comes in at a high $650 relative to its pocket competition -- but not that high. Yet when you step back and realize the RX1 has the potential to go head-to-head with cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D800 and Leica M9, each with a high-quality 35mm prime lens attached, that price makes a little more sense. Yes, that's a 24.3-Mp, full-frame sensor with a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f2 T* lens in a body not much bigger than the RX100 and with all of its bells and whistles. Holy Supercameras. The Sony RX1 can also record Full HD at 24p or 60p.
The version we saw was "not final" but it was done enough that all got the impression it was going to be an amazing camera. Fast autofocus, great controls and the pleasantly small body made me restless to get the Sony RX100 in for testing.
The front is pleasantly simple, with a small leather-like grip, a bold but simple product name and an AF-assist lamp. Right of the lens is the four-position focus mode switch. Sony said a lot of effort had been put into the Carl Zeiss lens to make it small while maintaining exceptionally high quality worthy of the 24.3-Mp full-frame sensor.
Starting with the lens controls, the front ring is for manual focus, the second ring sets Macro and Normal focus modes and the back ring is for aperture.
A hinged flash pops from the top deck, leaning forward like the flash in the RX100. The RX1 also includes the new Sony multi-interface hot shoe with data contacts under the hood.
A simple Mode dial and Exposure compensation dial are placed in traditional locations and the power switch rings the shutter button -- a threaded shutter release button, which will work with a traditional mechanical cable release.
Because the lens rings are lens controls, the RX1 doesn't have the nifty programmable front control ring found on so many premium pocket cameras (like the RX100, Canon S100 and Panasonic LX7). Instead it has two dials on the rear. There's more room for controls on the larger back, making the buttons and dials easy to activate. A Movie record button appears far right of the thumb grip, an odd placement, but one at least unlikely to be activated by accident.
Though priced too high to compare to the Olympus Stylus, the Sony RX1 is aimed at a more serious, well-heeled set of photographers -- the pro looking for a high quality camera that's also easy to bring along. It's made for those who would gravitate to the Leica M9 or who, back in the film days, would have spent a lot of money on a Contax G or T-series film camera, cameras with their own acclaimed Carl Zeiss lenses. The Sony RX1 answers a sincere desire in the marketplace for a return to that full-frame sensor size with excellent quality optics in a very small package.
Sony engineered the body and optic so tightly around the large sensor, they say there was no way to make it an interchangeable lens system. They chose just the right focal length for the traditional street photographer -- 35mm -- and made the lens as fast as they reasonably could while maintaining a very small size, according to Sony representatives.
Sony showed us some impressive print samples. As the one who does the print analysis in our reviews, I didn't think the prints were big enough to make critical evaluation, but there were discernible differences between the RX1's images and some cutting-edge full-frame digital cameras (5D Mark III and D800). Elements like shadow and foliage detail looked quite good, perhaps different enough to be called better than the other print samples. But I know enough to call it impressive rather than superior at this point, as processing can be applied to the Raw files from any camera to tweak results this way or that, roughly equaling what we saw from the Sony RX1. What's notable is that this small camera's output was eminently worthy of comparison to such heavy hitters.
Sadly, the Sony RX1's introduction will likely knock the RX100 out of contention for Camera of the Year. Somehow I don't think Sony will mind.
By MIKE TOMKINS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-epm2/olympus-epm2A.HTM on the Web site.)
At its heart, the Olympus E-PM2 includes much of the DNA of the popular Micro Four Thirds flagship model, the OM-D M5. Both cameras share the exact same pairing of image sensor and processor, but the PM2 places them in what Olympus says is the smallest and lightest PEN-series body.
The PM2's image sensor is a 4:3-aspect, 16.1-Mp Live MOS sensor supplied by Sony. It's capable of a maximum resolution of 4608x3456 pixels. Sensitivity from the chip ranges as high as ISO 25,600, the same upper limit as the M5.
Output from the imager is handled by a TruePic VI image processor, first seen in last year's E-P3 mirrorless camera.
Although it's the same processor used in the M5, burst performance isn't quite as swift as that camera. With focus locked, the PM2 can deliver a full eight frames per second, swift by mirrorless standards but still one less than the M5 provides.
Enable tracking autofocus though and this falls to a more sedate 3.5 frames per second, about 0.7 fps slower than the M5.
Like all PEN-series models, the PM2 sports a Micro Four Thirds lens mount for over 30 dedicated lenses from Olympus, Panasonic and Voigtlander. Courtesy of various first- and third-party adapters, the Micro Four Thirds mount can also accept a huge variety of older glass including lenses made for Olympus and Panasonic's full-sized Four Thirds cameras, albeit often with limitations regarding autofocus, exposure, etc.
Several new lenses were announced alongside the PM2. These include the unusual BCL-15 Body Cap Lens (a 9mm-thick, three element f8, manual focus pancake), the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 ($500) and a limited-edition black version of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0 (U.S.$1,100). The latter two lenses ship from early October. Development of a M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 prime was also revealed.
Although the OPM2 does include in-body image stabilization, it's not the same system used in the M5. Hence, it corrects only for pitch and yaw like most other stabilization systems. It lacks the M5's ability to correct for roll or for up/down and left/right translational motions.
Another feature migrating from the M5 is the PM2's contrast detection autofocus system. Branded as Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology, or FAST AF for short, it claims to offer the world's fastest autofocusing when coupled with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens. That comes thanks to a stunning readout speed of 240 fps (but with reduced accuracy) for continuous autofocus and a more typical 120 fps readout rate (with maximum accuracy) for single autofocus.
Like that in the M5, the PM2's contrast detection AF system has 35 fixed autofocus point locations, the points arranged in a 7x5 array that covers most of the image frame. You can switch to a small single-point focus point you can reposition simply by tapping on the camera's touchscreen, however. And to help focusing on nearby subjects in low light, the PM2 retains its predecessor's autofocus assist lamp.
As you'd expect, Olympus' dust removal system is included in the PM2. This vibrates the cover glass over the sensor with a dedicated piezoelectric element to shake dust free, then captures it on an adhesive strip beneath the sensor.
There's no built-in viewfinder, but the PM2 retains the company's proprietary Accessory Port 2 just beneath its flash hot shoe, which allows the camera to accept a number of accessories. These include the same two electronic viewfinders used with past Olympus cameras, along with the EMA-1 external microphone adapter, MAL-1 Macro Arm Light and PenPal Bluetooth Communication Unit accessories.
The PM1's 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot, 16:9 aspect LCD panel is retained but with a gapless design that puts a capacitive touch sensitive layer between the LCD and the protective cover glass. The removal of the air gap should yield reduced glare and better contrast. Also added is an anti-smudge coating. You can now opt for Vivid or Natural display modes, as well.
The new touch screen not only allows you to set focus and make adjustments; you can even trip the shutter with a tap on the LCD. And since it's a capacitive design like higher-end smartphones, it should be sensitive enough to do so with very little camera shake. There's also a vertical touch navigation menu called up by pressing the Menu button, which makes light work of mode changes.
The PM2 comes with the same FL-LM1 accessory flash included with the PM1. The PM2's hot shoe can also accept a variety of other, more powerful strobes. Flash sync is between 1/60 and 1/160 second with Super FP flash between 1/125 and 1/4000 second if supported by the attached flash. The PM2 also supports four-channel wireless flash with the bundled strobe acting as a master and off-camera strobes configured in up to three groups.
Changes to the PM2's creative options include a new high dynamic range imaging mode and an additional Art Filter effect. The new HDR mode automatically combines multiple shots into a single image with greater dynamic range than is possible in a single exposure. There's a user-selectable step size between exposures of either 2.0 or 3.0 EV. Watercolor is the additional Art Filter Effect, joining the other 11 filter types in the PM2.
You can still record high definition 1080i (1920x1080 pixel) interlaced movies but there are a few additions in this area, too.
Thanks to the new touch screen, you can now simply tap to select a new focus point during video capture, making it easy to guide your viewers' attention to a different subject.
You can also now switch between different art filters during recording, something we've not seen before from any manufacturer. So that the change isn't jarring, one filter effect will fade out and the other will fade in.
You can also now enable what Olympus calls Movie Teleconverter, which is essentially a variable focal length crop.
Since there's no mechanical adjustment being made, this is silent. It also shouldn't significantly degrade image quality, since you're not using interpolation.
The PM2 doesn't include built-in WiFi, but the firmware supports Toshiba's FlashAir WiFi-capable flash cards. Although plans are still subject to change, we understand Olympus expects to bundle a rebate that will offer a free FlashAir card with the purchase of the PM2.
An application for Android and iOS operating systems will allow sharing of photos from the camera via your smartphone, as well as application of filters to the photos before sharing. You can also use the existing PenPal accessory to transfer images to your phone via Bluetooth.
Other connectivity includes the Accessory Port 2, USB 2.0 data, HDMI and an analog audio/video output.
Power comes courtesy of a proprietary BLS-5 lithium-ion battery pack and a BCS-5 charger is included in the product bundle.
A couple of new accessories include the CS-38B leather body jacket in four different colors and the CBG-8 camera bag.
Available in October, the Olympus PEN E-PM2 is priced at about $550 body-only. Four body colors will be available: black, red, silver or white. A kit bundling the M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R zoom lens will list for about $600.
When Canon announced the Pro-1 a year ago, it hinted that was just the beginning. It planned to introduce a whole line of 13-inch Pro printers based on the same technology as its flagship model.
At Photokina, the company followed up on that promise with two new Pro-series models: the pigment-based Pro-10 and the dye-based Pro-100, the first dye-based model in the line. The new models feature Print Studio Pro plug-in software, WiFi (in addition to Ethernet), CD printing (apparently a Pro-series feature now) and faster printing.
The $699 Pro-10 uses a 10-ink tank system with Lucia pigment-based inks. The ink set includes three monochrome inks, including Matte Black for matte papers, plus a Chroma Optimizer to give a uniform appearance on glossy and semi-glossy sheets.
If we had one complaint about the Pro-1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/canon-pro-1/index.htm), though, it was that Matte Black soaked into the sheet too much, resulting in a less dense black than we wanted.
As for speed, Canon claims the Pro-10 can print a 13x19 high-quality color or black-and-white, bordered image in five minutes and 20 seconds.
The $499 Pro-100 uses the eight-color ChromaLife 100+ dye-based ink system, which includes three monochrome inks. Previously the Pro9000 Mark II dye-based printer included just one black ink, making the Pro-100 the first Canon dye-based printer with multiple monochrome inks.
Faster than the Pro-10, Canon says the Pro-100 can print a 13x19 high-quality color, bordered image in 90 seconds and a high-quality, bordered black-and-white print in three minutes, 5.4 times faster than previous models.
The new Print Studio Pro plug-in is designed specifically for Pro-series printers, Canon said. The company interviewed "a wide range of photographers at various professional levels to help determine what users want out of a printing application."
Print Studio Pro consequently provides "a simple and seamless photo printing solution from a number of applications such as the Canon Digital Photo Professional and Adobe's Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Elements," the company said. The user-interface has been designed "to maximize ease-of-use with a number of options to adjust the page formats and layouts, accommodate for different user preferences and manage a number of variables including color management and printer settings."
The company also touted its new Pro Mode, which "maps color gamut for optimum balance of brightness and saturation," even taking into account human perception. "The technology helps to create prints that accurately reflect the image as seen on a monitor without needing a high level understanding of color management," Canon claimed.
Pro-1 printer owners will also be able to take advantage of the new technology with a firmware upgrade expected in early 2013, according to the company.
Canon expects "a significant number" of ICC profiles to be available at the time these new printers start shipping. Ilford, in fact, has already announced the availability of ICC profiles for its Galerie papers on the new Pro-series printers (http://www.ilford.com/en/about-us/press/new-galerie-profiles-for-the-latest-canon-printers/). The Pro-1 itself was well supported by third-party fine arts paper manufacturers right out of the gate.
But the company didn't specify an expected availability date for the new Pro-series models.
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:
- IR's Photokina 012 coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/events/photokina-2012) includes all the new product announcements and interviews with industry leaders.
- Previewd: Canon 6D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-6d/canon-6dA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Lensbaby Spark (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/lensbaby-spark/index.htm)
- Reviewed: Lens Review: Canon EF 28mm /2.8 IS USM (http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1496/cat/10)
- Previewed: Panasonic GH3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/panasonic-gh3/panasonic-gh3A.HTM)
- Previewed: Olympus E-PL5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-epl5/olympus-epl5A.HTM) and Olympus E-PM2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-epm2/olympus-epm2A.HTM)
- Previewed: Olympus Stylus XZ-2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-xz2/olympus-xz2A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon D3200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d3200/nikon-d3200A.HTM). We found it capable and pleasantly quiet to shoot, and it's still easy to recommend to novice or advanced amateur alike.
- Previewed: Nikon D600 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d600/nikon-d600GALLERY.HTM)
- Previewed: Sony Alpha NEX-6 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-nex-6/sony-nex-6A.HTM)
- Reviewed: DFT Film Stocks (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/FP3/filmpack-3.htm)
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:
Visit the ACDSee Pro 5 Discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eebb099
Read our review of the Lensbaby Spark and post a comment at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eebb463/0
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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RE: Outside the Box
I love to read your Newsletter every time I receive it and after 50 years (oops!) in the business I still love to read about cameras and other things related to photography. And I am a fan of pictures on paper -- and still keep my analog darkroom working.
But this time something different touched me in your Newsletter. How absolutely lovely to read about the pictures you sent to your father-in-law.
How nice for the man to get something that you really held in your hand before sending it and not just something that happened because you pushed a button on your computer.
A little more personal contact between people, some warm thoughts in an envelope not only some ones and zeros flying through cyberspace. More of this would make a better world to live in.
-- Lasse Jansson(Until you mentioned it, we hadn't thought of the photo moving from our hands to his. A little more personal indeed! -- Editor)
Regarding your most recent Newsletter's "Just for Fun: Thinking Outside the Box." Y'know, sometimes we just have to get back to basics -- even if it's by way of "high tech." Well done!
-- Linda Gignac(Thanks, Linda! We're still a bit chagrined that we forgot you can still just mail someone a photo. Back to basics indeed! -- Editor)
You should have carried this one step further by encouraging people to print more in general. No one wants to make prints anymore, of anything. Future generations will have no history.
If you ask a relative to make you a print you would think you were asking them to give you their first born. Everyone wants to email pictures, but computers crash and get outdated and are replaced. Very few people back up their photos, and no one it seems wants to take a CD-ROM or flash drive to Wal-Mart or wherever they go shopping.
My parents left me albums rich with photos and family history. There will be no future family history. This is very sad. I have a hard time getting a print made and sent to me from my children so I can frame it. I know this applies to the majority of people.
-- Richard(It's alarming how many snapshots are just rust waiting to flake off hard drives. Apparently you must reach a certain age to consider conserving those moments, probably the age at which you inherit the family album, look at the uncaptioned images and wonder who all those people were. At which point you realize, as Masaccio put it, "That's going to be me in a few years." (OK, technically the phrase about the skeleton in the Trinity is "Io fui gia' quel che voi siete e quel ch'io sono voi anco sarete" or "I once was what you are now and what I am, you will be.") But don't despair. The photo book industry is going gang busters as families document a year in their lives as holiday gifts. Consider that a subtle suggestion to get to work on yours now. -- Editor)
RE: Buying a New Camera
I've been holding back on purchasing a new Canon 7D because every time I buy a Canon camera, next week or next month they come out with a better camera in the same class. I always end up wishing I would have waited if I knew that was about to happen.
I am presently selling off my stock of film cameras and thinking of buying the 7D which has been selling for quite some time. But it seems like it's time for Canon to replace it with something advanced from its features in the same $1500 class.
What's Canon going to do? Should I buy or should I wait? I hate being in this situation if you know what I mean! I have a 20D and I wish I would have waited for the 30D or 40D. I just can't win.
-- Bill Taney(Well, the first rule of thumb is don't buy anything just before Photokina. Canon introduced the 6D there earlier this week (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-6d/canon-6dA.HTM). But our General Operating Directive is to focus on new capabilities rather than refined specs. Live View was a very good reason to upgrade. Video made a lot of sense for some, too. Better low light performance always gets us thinking. This approach keeps us attached to one model for a couple of years, by which time we've become comfortable using it. So we keep it and find we often prefer it to the newer body. There's usually an awful lot of untapped potential in the old gear. -- Editor)
RE: Wolverine Scanner
Having survived a flooded basement which ruined a number of photos albums, we wanted to start over again with some of the 35mm negatives which were fortunately saved.
We found a fast, super easy way to scan in a large batch of 35mm negatives and by-pass the scanner/computer route. We purchased a Wolverine Model F2D-14 negative/slide scanner from Costco. The price was under $100 and well worth it.
The metal scanner itself is small, roughly 4x4 inches and comes with one slide holder (holds up to for slides) and one negative holder (holds a negative strip-up to six frames). Additional holders are available directly from http://wolverinedata.com. It converts the negs/slides to 14-Mp files (in under three seconds each) and saves them to your memory card. All this without using a computer or expensive scanner.
The only drawback was it was so easy to set up and use, we thought we were doing it wrong and finally had to read the directions for reassurance! I'm attaching one of the scanned-in photos for your inspection. After this pic was scanned in the only edits were done with Photoshop CS3 (Auto Levels & Sharpen).
-- Joyce Stein(Our sympathies for the flood damage, Joyce. We've been through that and the only word for it is "heart-breaking." You might find our Mar. 19, 2004, feature "Salvaging Heirloom Prints" helpful. Just note that some color emulsions don't like water. Test to find out.... As for the Wolverine, we did email the company asking for a review unit. But they never responded. We're a little surprised that VueScan doesn't support the scanner. The advantage would be multi-exposure mode where you could scan separately for the highlights and shadows. -- Editor)
RE: Back to 1954
Knowing that a couple at whose wedding I attended back then would soon be celebrating their 6oth wedding anniversary, I found these old Kodachrome (ASA 10) slides that had been stored in a metal box in the basement and never viewed since 1954.
As I recall, they were taken with a Kodak Pony 35mm camera an uncle had given me after he gave up trying to take photos with it. No light meter, no rangefinder. Using blue flashbulbs and setting aperture by using the guide number, I took these photos. I scanned them with my Minolta film scanner and printed 8x10s for them. I attach them greatly reduced for emailing.
I have been reading The Imaging Resource Newsletter for many years now. It is a great Newsletter even if some articles are a bit hard for me to follow.
-- T. Bennett Finley(We can easily image how happy they were/will be to see those images again after all this time. What a treat! (But now you'll have to do all of them, you know.) Very nice scans, too, especially considering they were Kodachromes (which are notoriously difficult).... Sometimes we could do a better job of explaining things, certainly. But we hate to repeat ourselves. That search box on the Newsletter home page's left column (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) is a big help in digging up explanations, though. We use it a lot ourselves <g>. -- Editor)
RE: A Convert
I'm always hesitant about reading blogs and forums but I happened on Mike Pasini's 2009 review of the Epson V600 scanner and I must say it is one of the best pieces of technical journalism I have seen -- and he has a good sense of humour (sorry, British spelling).
Being one of those "just retired and want to digitise my old 35mm collection" folks I'm researching scanners to see what's around but I seem to be ruling out every option. A high end Epson with film scanner is too slow, Plustek scanners get dreadful reviews and the nearest is probably the Epson V700 unless I go buy an old Nikon Coolscan on eBay.
Anyway, please thank Mike for a great article. Have you reviewed any (better) film scanners since 2009 by the way?
-- Ian Robertson(Thanks, Ian! You can see all our scanner reviews here (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM). The most significant recent advance (after the V700) is using an LED for the light source. These require no warm-up and are very stable (so much so that the generic profile provided is often sufficient if not optimum). The CanoScan 9000F is the leader here (although the Epson V600 uses the same LED light source). -- Editor)
Google has acquired Nik Software. On the Nik site, (http://www.niksoftware.com/google/usa/index.php?locale=usa&view=news%2Fmain.shtml) a brief statement noted, "We've always aspired to share our passion for photography with everyone and with Google's support we hope to be able to help many millions more people create awesome pictures."
Trey Ratcliff's Google+ Hangout (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=lN0ByajctNM#t=326s) with Google+ photo team members discussed the issue (later at the 9:30 mark, too) on the day of the announcement.
PictureCode (http://www.picturecode.com) has released its $129 Photo Ninja 1.0 [MW], a Raw converter and image editor that includes the company's venerable Noise Ninja filter. We're test driving the new package now, in fact.
Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com/presspass/press_pass_cut/opp_press_details.asp?pressNo=929) has introduced a 30mm equivalent, pan-focus, fixed f8 aperture Body Cap Lens for its Micro Four Thirds line. Walks like a body cap, shoots like a wide-angle lens.
DxO Labs has released ViewPoint, which we recently reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/dxo-viewpoint/index.htm), at an introductory price of $49 through Sept. 30 with the promo code PHOTOKINA.
Sekonic (http://www.sekonic.com) has released its Litemaster Pro L-478 series light meters with a 2.7-inch touchscreen interface. The L-478DR model also incorporates PocketWizard wireless technology.
X-Rite (http://www.xrite.com) has introduced its $99 ColorMunki Smile as "the easiest way to color correct computer monitors." The color measurement device is paired with wizard-driven software to quickly calibrate your monitor.
Pholium 1.3.1 (http://www.pholium.com) improves sending Pholium ebooks over a DSL connection.
StickyAlbums (http://www.stickyalbums.com) creates photo album iOS/Android apps with your logo/brand on them for clients or friends. A free basic demo level is available to test drive the service.
Akvis (http://akvis.com) has released its HDRFactory 3.0 [MW] with a Remove Noise parameter, compatibility with Mac OS X 10.8, bug fixes and updates to its list of presets.
Induro (http://www.indurogear.com) has announced its LFB75S Dual Range Hi-Hat TableTop Tripod Set can support up to 165 lbs. The short aluminum alloy tripod with 75mm bowl and a 75mm half ball adapter will be available in December.
The $2 Safe Slide app (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/safe-slide/id556461566) lets others see only the photos and videos you release on your iOS device.
The free NKS5 Photoshop toolkit (http://nkurence.com/blog/2012/06/nks5-natural-media-toolkit-for-photoshop-cs5-cs6/) provides a wide range of natural media, texturing and production tools.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $39.95 GraphicConverter 8.3 [M] with support for Aperture libraries, Automator actions, Notification Center in Mountain Lion, new PDF export options, copy/paste of GPS location, 1080p HSBS conversion, new options for 3D batch conversion and more.
BeLight Software (http://www.belightsoft.com) has released its $19.95 Image Tricks Pro 3.6 [M] with Mountain Lion support, a Paintable Frames category with 76 new frames, two new Polaroid frames, support for Zoom and Rotate trackpad gestures, size adjustment on export and more.
Camera Size (http://camerasize.com) is a free online digital camera comparison tool that shows one camera's size relative to another camera with views of each camera from different sides.
CyberLink (http://www.cyberlink.com) has released its $99.99 PhotoDirector 4 Ultra [MW] with HDR effects, improved tone and white balance adjustment, chromatic aberration removal, content-aware removal, face recognition and more.
Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1589) has released iPhoto 9.4 with support for shared photo streams, Facebook comment refinements, a new File menu command to open the current library in Aperture and more.
Fourandsix (http://www.fourandsix.com/fourmatch/) has released its $890 FourMatch [MW], a Photoshop extension that "analyzes any open JPEG image to determine whether it is an untouched original from a digital camera."
Charles W. Cushman started shooting Kodachrome in the black-and-white 1930s and didn't stop (http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2012/09/14/161016597/found-photos-the-1930s-in-full-color).
The BBC reports the world's first natural color moving pictures have been digitized (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19557914) after lying forgotten in an old tin for 110 years. The newly-discovered films, too large for 35mm projectors, were made by Edward Raymond Turner who patented the process in March 1899.
We note the loss of Pedro Guerrero (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/arts/design/pedro-guerrero-95-dies-captured-another-dimension-of-art.html?hpw), "a former art school dropout who showed up in the dusty Arizona driveway of Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, [and] boldly declared himself a photographer."
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Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
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
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher