The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 14, Number 23 16 November 2012

Copyright 2012, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 345th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Our Gift Guides reflect some significant shifts in the photographic landscape this year. You'll have just enough time to consider them before the stores post holiday pricing early this year. Avoid the crush by shopping through our Buy Now page at http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm and our PriceGrabber page at http://ir.pricegrabber.com too. It helps support what we do here. Thanks!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please show your appreciation by visiting their links below. And now a word from our sponsors:
P E N T A X

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S I G M A

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  • 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.

I M A G I N G   R E S O U R C E

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Feature: Camera Gift Guide

Seems like the landscape has changed a bit more dramatically this year than it has in the past.

One change has been the dwindling of the pocket digicam category. We're going to skip it entirely this year, frankly. It isn't so much that smartphones have won the snapshot war. Almost any digicam outperforms even the best smartphones still with optical zoom and far more sophisticated in-camera processing.

But your camera dollar is better spent on a long zoom or a Compact System Camera. In fact, while the CSC still hasn't caught fire in the U.S., it's a compelling alternative to the entry-level dSLR. More features, less bulk.

That somewhat minimizes the competency of the CSC format, which sports some of the more interesting offerings this year.

But this is a big year for dSLRs, too. A whole new generation has taken digital photography to new heights of noise reduction, resolution and exposure range.

Again, many of the hot holiday numbers have just been introduced (and are available for pre-order only) so won't have full or express reviews on the main site. But there's usually a preview and sometimes even our First Shots are posted to help you get an idea of what the camera can do. And you can check the current prices there, too.

BARGAINS

We're taking a new approach with our bargain recommendations this year, too. And not just by starting with them. This category used to illustrate just how little you could pay for a new digital camera. But these days getting into the digital photo game isn't the leap. The trick is how to get a quality camera at a budget price.

And in the last year we've seen some tremendous bargains (like half price) on camera models that have been superceded by newer versions. The funny thing about this trend is that you'll get a new camera at a lower price with serious features for less than the used version on craigslist or eBay, where prices aren't always as low as they might be.

SERIOUS DIGICAMS

MEGAZOOMS

COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERAS

RANGEFINDER

ENTRY-LEVEL SLR

Your first dSLR isn't just a camera. It's an ecosystem. That plays heavily in our recommendations. These are systems you can grow with, starting with cameras that make it easy to get started.

MIDRANGE SLR

FULL FRAME SLR

TAX DEDUCTIONS

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Feature: Grab Bag Gift Guide

We've refreshed our Grab Bag Guide this year, too. Our old listings (which we've just revisited in the archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) have plenty of good ideas but, as with cameras, there's been a lot of activity this year. So there's some good new stuff to show and tell.

BOOKS & DVDS

SUBSCRIPTIONS

OPTICS

There are a few general categories to consider before we get to specific recommendations.

MEMORY CARDS

A stocking stuffer memory card of the right type (a high speed card for video fans) is always welcomed:

STORAGE

A new category this year. Sometimes we wake up at night in a cold sweat trying to remember if we told you how important it is to copy your photos to an external drive, DVDs, anywhere. Multiple copies.

BAGS

STRAPS

FILTERS

We buy our digital filters from 2filter (http://www.2filter.com), which discounts high quality, multi-coated filters from Hoya and Tiffen and provides some bundles, too. Prices vary on the size of the filter.

LIGHTING

EXPOSURE AIDS

DESKTOP SOFTWARE

TABLET SOFTWARE

PRINTERS

SCANNERS

Not much has changed here but that's a good thing when it comes to these standouts. The Plustek has gotten a software upgrade but that's it.

MORE

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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:

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: Sensor Physics 101

(Terry Constanti wondered what the difference is between "sensors of different sizes which have the same number of pixels." We asked Dave to chime in on the subject. -- Editor)

You'll see the difference at higher ISOs, but probably also in terms of dynamic range as well. All else being equal (same sensor technology and same pixel count), the larger sensor will have a better signal-to-noise ratio than the smaller one, which affects both overall noise level and therefore dynamic range as well. With image sensors, the pixel can't get more full than 100 percent, so dynamic range really boils down to how small a signal you can discern before it gets buried in the background noise.

A simple explanation of the relationship between pixel size and noise levels is that a lot of noise in sensors comes from leakage (primarily surface leakage) across the P-N junction that isolates each pixel from its neighbors and the surrounding bulk silicon.

So, with a given semiconductor process, this leakage will vary according to the perimeter of the pixel or roughly proportional to its radius (assuming for simplicity's sake that the pixels are round). On the other hand, the amount of signal the pixel can hold is proportional to its area. So if the pixel's radius is R the leakage will be roughly proportional to R, while the maximum signal the pixel can hold will be proportional to R^2. You can see then, that as pixels get smaller, the signal to noise ratio is going to get worse in direct proportion to R or their linear dimension.

There's also something called "shot noise," having to do the discrete (and relatively small) number of electrons in each pixel well. As the total number of electrons gets smaller, the shot noise becomes more significant. But that's a little abstruse and I believe that the leakage-related noise is the dominant factor.

The complicating factor is the significant differences in the signal-to-noise ratio between different semiconductor processes and sensor architectures, so a four micron pixel from Nikon may have more or less noise than one of the same size from Canon or Sony. Ditto different generations of sensors within a given manufacturer's product line.

But generally, smaller pixels will mean worse high-ISO noise and poorer dynamic range.

Overall, it's a pretty safe assumption that the Nikon D600, then, will have significantly better low-light and dynamic range performance than the Nikon D5200 or D3200 (which is just out on the market and also has 24 megapixels).

There's another, more subtle difference that comes into play between sub-frame and full-frame as well, having to do with lenses and resolution. With any given lens, images from a full-frame camera are very likely going to look sharper than those from a sub-frame model.

The reason for this is that the larger pixels (for similar pixel count) of the full-frame camera are more forgiving of lens foibles. Here's a way to think of it. Suppose you have a lens able to resolve 100 lp/mm. Further suppose that you shoot such that the same subject fills the frame on both a sub-frame and full-frame body. On the sub-frame body, the sensor is about 16mm high, while on the full-frame, it's 24mm. So 100 lp/mm would give you 1,600 line pairs spanning the sub-frame chip, but 2,400 spanning the full-frame one.

Finally, of course, you'll find that depth of field is shallower for a given focal length on a full-frame camera than a sub-frame one. On full-frame cameras, you'd need to shoot close to one stop closed down, to get the same DOF as on a sub-frame camera.

-- Dave Etchells

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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 Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5

Read about the Canon Pro-10 printer at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eebc209/0

Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae

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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!

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Visit Amazon from this link!

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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: Printer Concerns

I've just finished reading the reviews of both Canon Pro-1, Canon Pro-10 and the Epson R3000. My two biggest concern are:

  1. Epson does not support newer Apple operating system software as well as Canon does. I have the Epson R800 and Canon i960 as starter photo printers. I can still run Canon i960 with OS 10.7 but the R800 does not work well with any software past 10.5.

  2. Epson always seems to have an ink clogging issue that Canon does not. Hence a lot of Epson ink gets wasted. I've not seen this issue treated in the reviews of the two printers. Most of us don't print every day and will have the printer sit a couple weeks before printing. Please address this issue.

-- Kris Maine

(Canon certainly makes it easier to update its drivers but Apple itself distributes the updated drivers, too. We are running the R3000 on 10.7 at the moment without a problem. But that's all we can say on that score.... We have discussed the ink clogging issue before (see the Epson R2000 review at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/epson-r2000/index.htm). We haven't experienced a clogging issue on any Epson or Canon we've reviewed in the last couple of years, though. -- Editor)
(Pigment inks are perhaps a bit more likely to clog than dye-based ones, but the choice of either a Epson piezo or Canon/HP thermal inkjet print head makes a bigger difference. Epson suggests turning the printer off and running the auto nozzle and head cleaning routine once a month, which should help. I don't know about the Canon Pro-1 and Pro-10 printers, but some of the big Canon inkjets actually wake up periodically to shoot a few drops of ink through each nozzle, to keep them clear. Check the manual to see if you should leave your own unit on. Regardless of manufacturer, inkjets like to be used. The best practice is to just print a photo at least every couple of weeks. -- Dave)

RE: Stamp My Photo

Can you help identify a specific type of camera?

I am doing a project taking photos of display screens in cars. There are potentially hundreds of different images -- and I want to tie them back to notes about what I saw. So, I'd like to imprint a unique number or other identifier on the image.

Is there an inexpensive digital camera with this capability?

-- Larry DuLude

(Good one, Larry. Just a few thoughts.... If you want to do this at the time of capture, so you can refer to the image in, say, written notes, you'll have to work with the time/date imprint. And that's the feature you'd look for: a time/date stamp.... You could append a voice memo to the image and avoid the imprinting all together. Here you'd be looking for a feature that allows a voice memo to be attached to an image in the editing process.... If you can do this in post processing there are ways to simply automate writing a sequential number (or the filename or any text, actually) on the image. -- Editor)

RE: Lebon Award?

In addition to the Nobel for Customer Support, you ought to have a Lebon, an anti-Nobel. I bet that would get lots of action.

I would like to vote for B&H, but I have never had occasion to use their services in the many years that I have been a B&H customer. That, in and of itself, must be an indication of their worthiness.

-- Richard Schuh

(The No Complaint Award to B&H then. But as for complaints, we try to avoid them as much as possible. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Adobe (http://www.adobelabs.com) has posted Lightroom 4.3 and Camera Raw 7.3 release candidates. Lightroom supports HiDPI displays within the Develop Module and both updates add Raw file support the for Canon S110/G15/SX50 HS, Casio EX-ZR1000/EX-FC300S, Nikon D600, Olympus E-PL5/E-PM2/XZ-2 iHS, Panasonic GH3 and Pentax K-5 II/K-5 IIs/Q10.

The company also released a version of Photoshop Touch in the Amazon App Store for the Kindle Fire and Fire HD.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has announced two new lenses: its $1,499 EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM with macro at the telephoto end and its $849.99 EF 35mm f2 IS USM lenses.


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released Optics Pro v8.0.1 [MW] with support for the Nikon1 J2 and the Sony NEX-5R. More than 200 new camera-lens combinations have also been added since the last version.


Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1610) has released Aperture 3.4.3 [M] to address "an issue that could cause a licensed copy of Aperture to prompt for a serial number with each launch."


PictureCode (http://www.picturecode.com) has released its $129 Photo Ninja 1.0.3 [MW] with refined vivid color styles and global presets, refined clip point estimation used for highlight recovery threshold, preservation of XMP ModifyDate and CreatorTool when updating an XMP sidecar and more.


Triggertrap (http://www.triggertrap.com) has announced its Triggertrap Mobile for iOS devices now works over a WiFi network "to provide a remote triggering capability that is fast, long range, inexpensive and wonÕt drain the user's battery."


Profoto (http://www.profoto.com) has announced the RFi softboxes, an improved line of softboxes in 12 sizes and four models (rectangular, square, octagonal and strip) and compatible with 26 different flash brands. The "recessed front" of the RFi line minimizes stray light and mounts an optional Softgrid.


Rocky Nook has published the second edition of The Photograph: Composition and Color Design by Harald Mante, which "explains the essential elements to achieving the highest level of visual design in photographs." The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 47 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937538060/?tag=theimagingres-20).


cf/x AG (http://www.cfxsoftware.com) has released its $29.99 cf/x collagePRO [M] to build collages in seconds with automatic dynamic layouts that adapt an existing layout in real-time whenever you add or remove any number of pictures.


StickyAlbums (http://www.stickyalbums.com) now allows you to measure unique and total views for each album and easily embed YouTube videos. Additionally, StickyAlbum builder now features simple drag-and-drop image upload and in-program cropping.


Wedding & Portrait Photographers International has announces registration is open for the WPPI 2013 International Conference and Expo (http://registration3.experientevent.com/ShowWPP131/?flowcode=ATT).


WD (http://www.wd.com) has announced a new My Book Studio external hard drive with USB 3.0 for data transfer speeds up to three times faster than USB 2.0. WD has also introduced 4-TB capacity in a $299.99 single-drive configuration as well as 1-TB ($159.99), 2-TB ($189.99) and 3-TB ($239.99) capacities.


Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.Raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 4.7.0 [M] with Mountain Lion compatibility, new TrueFilm profiles, new TruePaper profiles, colorimetric mode, interface tweaks, support for new cameras, new white balance presets and more.


Delkin Devices (http://www.delkin.com) has introduced its $119.99 Fat Gecko Monopod and $69.99 Tripod, both carbon fiber. The monopod can hold up to 30 lbs. without bending, reaching up to 57 inches. The one-pound tripod can hold 30 lbs. as well, folds to 22 inches and extends to 67 inches.


Photojojo (http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/three-way-camera-strap) features a $40 three-way camera strap (neck, shoulder, wrist).


Athentech Imaging (http://www.athentech.com) has released version 3 of its $2.99 Perfectly Clear iPhone and iPad apps with a new interface, de-purple correction, noise removal and a beautify function for portraits.


The $29.99 Pixelmator 2.1.3 [M] (http://www.pixelmator.com) adds Soft Proofing, a revamped and simplified Color Management tool, sRGB support, enhanced PSD support, improved Automator actions and more.


NASA Astronaut Donald Pettit talks about taking photos in the International Space Station (http://www.photoshelter.com/luminance/videos/pettit).


Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $39.95 GraphicConverter 8.3.1 [M] with PCD support, an Action menu, conversion of movies to animation, text rotation, 16-bit/channel support for Lights and Shadows and more.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.1.19 [LMW].

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

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news
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

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