|Volume 14, Number 23||16 November 2012|
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!
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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.
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And in the last year we've seen some tremendous bargains (like half price) on camera models that have been superceded by newer versions.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.
- Olympus XZ-1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XZ1/XZ1A.HTM) -- Olympus entered the flagship digicam fight with a winner. It learned from its competitors, avoiding the brick in favor of an almost too svelte box, adding a manual control with the lens ring, including a pop-up flash and a hot shoe, avoiding the noise of a 14-Mp sensor for the sanity of a 10-Mp sensor, delivering a versatile zoom range that starts wide enough and concentrating on optical performance. $200
- Panasonic LX5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX5/LX5A.HTM) -- If you want to learn, if you want to grow as a photographer or even an advanced snapshooter, the Panasonic LX5 is a great choice. If you already own a dSLR and want something smaller that does a little more than the average digicam and has a fast, worthy lens, the LX5 is one of the better choices. $250
- Panasonic LX7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/panasonic-lx7/panasonic-lx7A.HTM) -- Sometimes you don't want to carry a big dSLR to get quality images and that's why cameras like the Panasonic LX7 were born. But it's important to remember, the LX7 isn't a good-looking point-and-shoot, but a serious photographer's camera in a small package. Overall, the LX7 stands as the best iteration of the LX-series so far, putting its emphasis on two critical factors: lens quality and control access. And "a joy to shoot with," Senior Editor Shawn added. $500
- Olympus XZ-2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-xz2/olympus-xz2A.HTM) -- Starting with a 12-Mp sensor upgrade, the Olympus XZ-2's new imager is a 1/1.7-inch backlit CMOS design. Plus the Olympus XZ-2 has what camera fans long for: a big, bright, light-loving lens. The 28-112mm f1.8-2.5 iZUIKO Digital lens is essentially the same as that in XZ-1, which according to our tests was pretty impressive, besting the competition at the time. $600
- Sony RX100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx100/sony-rx100A.HTM) -- Sony finally did what so many of us have wanted. They've built a pocketable camera with a large sensor and a bright lens. It's the Sony RX100 and it'll send other camera makers back to their drawing boards for next season. The RX100 sets a 20.2-Mp, one-inch sensor behind a bright 3.6x, f1.8 lens and wraps it in a small body not much bigger than a Canon S100. $650
- Nikon P510 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon_p510/nikon_p510A.HTM) -- The Nikon P510 combines some impressive features into photographic capabilities that set it apart. The 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. $430
- Canon PowerShot SX50 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-sx50hs/canon-sx50hsA.HTM) -- The PowerShot SX50 HS's 50x optical zoom delivers the equivalent of 24mm to 1,200mm range from a 24mm wide-angle lens and boasts several improvements over the PowerShot SX40 HS, an IR favorite and a popular Dave's Pick. But staggering range isn't all the SX50 HS offers. A refined 12.1-Mp CMOS sensor coupled with a DIGIC 5 processor provides enhanced low-light imaging quality, according to Canon and a maximum ISO of 6400. $480
COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERAS
- Fujifilm X-E1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-x-e1/fuji-x-e1A.HTM) -- The X-E1 offers an almost identical feature set to the X-Pro1, but at a lower price point. There's also a new zoom lens, so you don't have to invest in Fujifilm's expensive primes, regardless of how excellent they are. $1,400
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/omd-em5/omd-em5A.HTM) -- It's notable how many photographers are choosing the Olympus OM-D E-M5 as their new camera of choice. Its versatility is hard to deny: a small interchangeable lens digital camera with both an EVF and tilting OLED display that can autofocus incredibly fast, take crisp images across a wide ISO range, at up to nine frames per second, with an impressive built-in image stabilization system. $1,300
- Olympus E-PL5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/olympus-epl5/olympus-epl5A.HTM) -- The Olympus Pen E-PL5 is still about the same size as its predecessor but gains a few features from both the E-P3 and the OM-D E-M5, both of which have some cool stuff to offer. The most obvious addition is the removable grip from the E-P3. What isn't quite as obvious is the inclusion of the very fine 16-Mp sensor handed down from the OM-D E-M5. $700
- Sony NEX-6 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-nex-6/sony-nex-6A.HTM) -- The Sony NEX-6 is about the size of a NEX-7 complete with pop-up flash and electronic viewfinder but with a simplified interface and a 16.1-Mp sensor instead of 24.3. It also has a real Mode dial, dog-gone it and that's a welcome change. $1,000
- Fujifilm X-Pro1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-x-pro1/fuji-x-pro1A.HTM) -- The Fujifilm X-Pro1 doesn't give quite the same experience as an SLR, nor does it match other compact system cameras in size or features, as it's not quite as compact. It's really better compared to its only major competition, the Leica M-series cameras. With that in mind, the X-Pro1 is a comparative bargain, though you do give up the real manual focus for electronic manual focus, as well as the buttery-smooth bokeh. But optical quality is still pretty high. $1,700
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.
- Canon Rebel T3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/T3/T3A.HTM) -- Although it occupies the entry-level position in Canon's dSLR lineup, the Rebel T3 has a fairly rich feature set and offers a significant step forward from the earlier Rebel XS. And the price is right. $600
- Nikon D3200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d3200/nikon-d3200A.HTM) -- The camera's fast overall speed makes it a pleasure to use and a great performer for street photography or youth sports. In short, we love this little camera with its 24.2-Mp CMOS sensor and think it's another excellent addition to Nikon's already highly regarded entry-level dSLR line. $700
- Canon Rebel T4i (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-t4i/canon-t4iA.HTM) -- The latest flagship Rebel remains one of the top choices for family dSLRs on the market. It's a little faster, has a few more modern features and still offers the beautiful articulating LCD. Most importantly, it still produces great images with relative ease. $1,199
- Nikon D7000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D7000/D7000A.HTM) -- The Nikon D7000 is one of those cameras that's easy to recommend. It's an excellent dSLR for anyone serious about getting great shots of their family, a great choice for the enthusiast photographer and a great starter camera for anyone wanting to get more serious about still or video photography. $1,500
FULL FRAME SLR
- Canon 6D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-6d/canon-6dA.HTM) -- The new Canon 6D is another camera designed to appeal to the photographer who wants to step up to full-frame but has found the $3,000 to $3,500 price tag prohibitively expensive. Instead, the 6D body retails for $2,100, just like the Nikon D600 and sports a 20.2-Mp CMOS sensor, powered by a DIGIC 5+ processor, with a 3.0-inch 1.04-million dot LCD, a UHS-1 SD card slot and both WiFi and GPS. $2,899
- Nikon D600 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d600/nikon-d600A.HTM) -- Signaling the dawn of the affordable full-frame dSLR camera, the Nikon D600 features a 24.3-Mp FX CMOS sensor, an optical viewfinder with 100 percent coverage, a 3.2-inch 921K-dot LCD and dual SD card slots for $2,100, body-only. $2,700
- Nikon D4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d4/nikon-d4A.HTM) Nikon's professional workhorse dSLR gets more than a single-digit upgrade to its model number in the new D4. Though encased in a body of similar size and shape to its predecessors, the D4 now uses a 16.2-Mp full-frame CMOS sensor backed up by a new EXPEED 3 image processor. Nikon expects the combination to deliver very high dynamic range and low noise across a wide range of ISO settings. It also has the most advanced video capabilities of any Nikon dSLR yet. $6,000
- Nikon D800 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d800/nikon-d800A.HTM) -- Three and a half years after introducing the D700, the D800 arrives as a full frame dSLR at three times the pixels of its predecessor with its 36.3-Mp sensor. $3,300
- Canon 1D x (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-1dx/canon-1dxA.HTM) -- While its competitors continue the Mp race, Canon has chosen to retreat from the 21-Mp full-frame design in the 1Ds and 5D Mark II to an 18-Mp full-frame sensor for the sake of greater speed, better high ISO performance and presumably greater dynamic range. All are worthy goals, to be sure. $6,800
- Canon 5D Mark III (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/canon-5d-mkiii/canon-5d-mkiiiA.HTM) Though Canon makes many excellent dSLR cameras for pros and consumers, none has reached the superstar status of the Canon 5D series. The Canon 5D Mark III raises the game in terms of overall camera performance, from frame rate to autofocus, while increasing the resolution only slightly (by just over a million pixels to 22.3-megapixels). Of all the additional features, probably the most important is the new autofocus system, brought over from the 1D X, which covers considerably more of the Canon 5D III's image area. -- $4,300
- Sony RX1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx1/sony-rx1A.HTM) -- We thought if we hid it here among the expensive pro dSLRs, it would look more affordable. 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. Publisher Dave Etchells got his hands on one for a couple of days (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx1/sony-rx1GALLERY.HTM) and observed, "It really is an extraordinary camera." $2,800
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
- The Printed Picture by Richard Benson (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0870707213/?tag=theimagingres-20), based on the 2009 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, tells the fascinating story of how we have reproduced images. $40
- One in a Thousand by Ian Coristine (http://OneinaThousand.ca) available at $8.99 for the iPad. If there's a theme that recurs in Ian's story, it's his appreciation for the way things have of accidentally just working out (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/one-in-a-thousand/index.htm).
- Oil by Edward Burtynsky (http://www.amazon.com/dp/3865219438/?tag=theimagingres-20) or the $9.99 iPad version (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/burtynsky-oil/id524467450?mt=8). The three main slide shows feature a video walk-through of that part of the exhibit by the same name with Burtynsky plus the easily enlarged images with hidden text captions include mapping information. Many of them also include a very informative audio caption.
- The DAM Book by Peter Krogh (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596523572/?tag=theimagingres-20) covers everything about managing an image collection except survival strategies. $49.99
- Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers by Harold Davis (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596529880/?tag=theimagingres-20) focuses on the three factors you can actually do something about when you take a picture. Talk about fundamentals! $29.99
- Lightroom 4 Library Videos by George Jardine (http://mulita.com) covers digital photo library management from top to bottom in a set of 16 video tutorials with over 6 hours clear and helpful screencasts. There's a Develop series and a Location Workflow series for Lightroom 4 as well but start at the beginning. You'll finally grasp what Lightroom is all about. $24.95
- Use our Gift Certificate (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?gsb) to start a free subscription to this venerable publication, which includes free email support directly from the editor (saving you lots of explaining).
There are a few general categories to consider before we get to specific recommendations.
- Vacation Zoom. Kit lenses are usually confined to the 18-55mm range. But you can pop an 18-200mm (or longer) compact vacation lens on that body for more versatility. Nikon, Canon, Sigma and Tamron all have nice ones.
- Fast Prime. The other problem with kit lenses is that they're slow. f3.5 slow. How about a nice f1.2 lens? Focal length hardly matters, it's what you can capture with available light and a decent ISO that counts.
- Portrait Prime. Most photos are portraits but most lenses are not portrait lenses. A moderate telephoto prime will capture a sharp face while nicely blurring the background. And you don't have to back up 100 yards. You can be in the same room and carry on a charming conversation.
- Macro. A macro lens can reveal another world where the tiniest things fill the frame. Including slides.
- Lensbaby Edge 80 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/lensbaby-edge80/index.htm) -- It adds another internal aperture lens to the Lensbaby family of optics, one with a mild telephoto range ideal for portraiture but also designed for closeups. $300
- Lensbaby Composer Pro (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/LBP/LBP.HTM) -- The Pro's front collar also sports an improvement over the original Composer with its refined focus mechanism. $300
- Notable introductions this year include: Canon EF 35mm f2 IS USM, Canon EF 40mm f2.8 pancake lens, Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f4G ED VR, Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM and, for m4/3 fans, the Olympus 45mm f1.8 Olympus M. Zuiko Digital. Visit http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/index.php for the details.
- LensRentals.com Gift Certificate (https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2010/11/lensrentals-com-gift-certificates) -- Let them rent whatever lens they want (but not forever) with a LensRentals gift certificate. There's also lighting gear and accessories (like those expensive lens adapters) to choose from.
A stocking stuffer memory card of the right type (a high speed card for video fans) is always welcomed:
- CompactFlash (http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?op=itemlist&cat1=Cameras%20%26%20Lenses&cat2=Digital%20Cameras%20%26%20Accessories&cat3=Memory%20Cards&Feature2=Compact%20Flash%20Cards&term=compactflash?kbid=66882)
- Secure Digital (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memsd)
- Memory Stick (http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?op=itemlist&cat1=Cameras%20%26%20Lenses&cat2=Digital%20Cameras%20%26%20Accessories&cat3=Memory%20Cards&Feature2=Memory%20Stick%20Cards?kbid=66882)
- xD Picture Cards (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memxd)
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.
- WD My Passport USB 3.0 External Drive (http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=640) -- What we use at the bunker these days. The cable is USB 2.0 compatible, works off a hub (even an Airport Extreme) and after a reformat with Disk Utility is Mac compatible. Formatted for Windows right out of the box. Small, inexpensive at $100 for 1-TB and rock solid.
- OWC On-The-Go Pro FireWire Drive (http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firewire/on-the-go) -- A little more expensive than the USB variant above, but at $145 for 1-TB a nice FireWire 800/400 and USB 3.0 package ideal for OS X users. We've used these for years without a failure.
- Kingston 16-GB DataTraveler USB Flash Drive (http://www.kingston.com/us/usb/personal_business#dtse9h) -- Designed by Arman Emami, it's not only compact and elegant but at $12.95 it's also inexpensive. They can put a bunch of stuff on it and slip it on a keychain.
- Waterproof DVD/CD Printable Media. Now that not just Epsons can print DVD/CD media, the trick is to buy waterproof printables. Edward de Jong of Magic Mouse recommends two brands: VC Taiyo Yuden Watershield and the Imation Aquaguard discs.
- An embarrassment of riches from Think Tank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com) -- They're all well-made and coddle that expensive gear with plenty of configurable padded partitions plus lots of little extras. But what really impresses us is the range of options from the Retrospect line to airport wheelers.
- Domke (http://www.tiffen.com/products.html?tablename=domke) -- Can't omit the old canvas stalwart. It's been around for decades for a reason. And we even drag ours out when nothing else will do. The small shoulder bag (http://www.tiffen.com/displayproduct.html?tablename=domke&itemnum=700-80D) is $120.
- Lowepro 150 AW (http://products.lowepro.com) -- Pack a 13-inch laptop or tablet with dSLR video gear and go. $120
- Sliding Straps aren't for everyone. But if you like the concept, our survey (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/straps/index.htm) this year covered a half dozen leading contenders. We liked the BosStrap (http://www.bosstrap.com/bosstrapgeneration3slidingslingstrapsystem.aspx) and Carry Speed (http://www.carryspeed.com) straps best.
- UPstrap (http://www.upstrap-pro.com) -- Redesigned for 2011, this is a no-slip, heavy-duty family of straps for any camera. Price varies.
- Cotton Carry-Lite (http://www.cottoncarrier.com) -- Clip a heavy-duty camera to a belt. $119
- Black Widow (http://www.spiderholster.com/blackwidow) -- Clip a lightweight camera to a belt. $75
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.
- Circular Polarizers can capture the world as it appears through polarized shades.
- Neutral Density filters can knock down bright sunlight to give you more control of depth of field and keep video shutter speeds low for a more realistic appearance.
- Infrared filters limit capture to infrared wavelengths if the camera does not have an IR blocking filter on its sensor.
- Filter wrenches are just the ticket for removing a circular polarizer. Adorama sells a set that handles 62-77mm lenses for $4.95 (http://www.adorama.com/FLFWB.html?kbid=66882) and smaller sizes are available, too.
- An external flash. A dedicated speedlight (with wireless capability) can open new doors of creativity for your photographer. Typical units: Nikon SB-600 $200, SB-700 $330, SB-800 $400, SB-900 $500; Canon 430EX $200, 580EX II $450
- WhiBal (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/WHB/WHB.HTM) is a small gray card with a lanyard that is actually calibrated. You know exactly what it should measure when you open an image with it in your image editing software and can instantly adjust the color balance. From $30
- Datacolor SpyderCube (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SCUBE/SCUBE.HTM) We really appreciated having reference points for absolute black and a spectral highlight plus a white and black reference point in the image, too. $59
- LensAlign Pro/Lite (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/LA/LAL.HTM) -- There is nothing like precision in our fog-banked existence and either LensAlign is a measuring tool that can cut through the vagaries of focus to help you fine tune autofocus accuracy. $140/80
- IT8 Targets (http://www.targets.coloraid.de) -- Wolf Faust has great prices for IT8.7/1 transmissive targets and IT8.7/2 reflective targets for calibrating scanners.
- Adobe Creative Cloud (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/adobe-photoshop-cs6-beta/index.htm) brings all of Creative Suite 6 for a monthly subscription. A three-month pe-paid membership key card at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Adobe-Creative-Membership-Pre-Paid-Product/dp/B007W76ZLW) for example, runs $99.97. Other options are available. At Staples, too.
- Lightroom 4 (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom) adds an impressive new processing engine, runs on OS X or Windows, handles stills and video, delivers exceptional noise reduction tools and continues to make work flow from import to Web galleries or print packages. If you're getting a new camera, Lightroom will be among the first to support it, too. Special holiday pricing hasn't been announced yet but look for it.
- Elements 11 (http://www.adobe.com/products/elements-family.html) remains the gold medal holder for the amateur who just wants to do more with photos and video. You know who you are. Special holiday pricing hasn't been announced yet but look for it.
- DxO Optics Pro (http://www.dxo.com/us/photo/dxo_optics_pro) transforms camera captures dramatically, removing optical flaws and delivering color and detail at high ISO. And v8 is even easier to use with incredible automatic corrections. $99
- VueScan (http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/VUE/VUE.HTM) is an affordable and comprehensive scanning software solution. Buy one copy, use it on any scanner you own. $80/40
- PhotoRescue (http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM) remains the leader in image recovery software, now handling movie files as well as images. $29
- MemoryMiner (http://www.memoryminer.com) is the modern way of telling a family's story. $45
- Nik Snapseed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/snapseed/index.htm) -- Not only does it make the routine stuff (like Straighten or Sharpen) simple, but it provides some cool effects like Drama (HDR), Center Focus and Tilt-Shift. So anybody can wring the most out of an image or take it to the Twilight Zone, whatever they feel like doing. Desktop version available, too. $4.99
- Photoshop Touch (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/adobe-photoshop-touch/index.htm) -- This is a nicely tailored version of layer-based editing for those of us who like to take our images somewhere beyond what the camera captured. $9.99
- Phoozl IQ (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/phoozl-iq/index.htm) -- Know any gamers? Test their photography chops on this one. ot only are there a myriad of quiz questions dealing with imaging, but there are even a few "cultural" ones. $1.99
- Canon Easy-PhotoPrint (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/canon-iepp/index.htm) -- A pretty nice printing utility for any Android/iOS tablet if you know someone with a recent Canon printer. Free (but nobody has to know).
- Epson R3000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/epson-r3000/index.htm) -- Just the best 13x19 pigment printer we tested this year. With art media, roll, disc and photo paper printing capability. $800
- Canon Pro-100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/canon-pro-100/index.htm) -- And just the best 13x19 dye printer we tested this year. We aren't afraid of dye longevity on swellable sheets and it makes our sunsets last longer than two minutes. $500
- You can do a lot with an inexpensive all-in-one these days, too. Our favorites continue to be the Canons followed by the more complexly engineered Epsons. Kodak has made an ungracious exit from this market and HP still hasn't convinced us it will support its hardware with software updates. $100
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.
- Epson V700/V750 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V700/V700.HTM) -- It handled everything we threw at it. Which still defines state of the art and explains why we've had no problem recommending it to anyone who has asked what's the best scanner to buy. $600
- CanoScan 9000F (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/CS9000/9000F.HTM) -- A modern day classic, complete with Canon's easy-to-use ScanGear software. $200
- Plustek OpticFilm 7600i (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/PLTK7600/7600.HTM) -- Just about the only 35mm film scanner out there these days. There's no automatic feed, but that's about all we could complain about. $515
- Color Munki (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/CMP/CMP.HTM) -- The more we use the ColorMunki spectrophotometer to profile our monitors and papers, the more we like it. $450
- Datacolor Spyder4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/datacolor-spyder4/) monitor calibration systems. It's the only device that will calibrate an iPad (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/datacolor-spydergallery/index.htm). $119 to $250
- Joby Gorillapod Mini Tripod (http://joby.com/gorillapod) -- You can find these anywhere (so they're great last minute gifts). And they can hang onto anything. $13 and up
- KB Covers (http://www.kbcovers.com) -- These membranes are printed with keyboard legends specific to one piece of software. Like Lightroom. $40
- Pirolettes (http://www.turnyourhead.com) are $150 wood turnings that cast a shadow in the shape of your profile. Also available is a $50 portrait (a flat version) that can be framed.
- Photostamps (http://photostamps.com) can print a sheet of perfectly legal stamps with either an image or a logo on them in just one day. A sheet of 20 first class stamps is $19.
- Merchandise from your images? Absolutely! Nothing says I-love-you like a T-shirt for Dad branded with that picture you took of him dozing after Thanksgiving. And Mom will love that family photo book that makes her feel like she was there for everything. Consult your favorite online photofinisher.
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:
- First Shots: Sony RX1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx1/sony-rx1A7.HTM)
- First Shots: Fujifilm XF1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-xf1/fuji-xf1A.HTM)
- First Shots: Fujifilm X-E1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/fuji-x-e1/fuji-x-e1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony HX200V (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-hx200v/sony-hx200vA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic LX7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/panasonic-lx7/panasonic-lx7A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sigma 180mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro (http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1482/cat/30)
- Previewed: Nikon D5200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d5200/nikon-d5200A.HTM
- Reviewed: Canon Pro-10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/canon-pro-10/index.htm). If the dye-based Pro-100 was something of a hybrid between the Pro-1 and the Pro9000 Mark II, the Pro-10 is more a Pro9500 Mark II updated with a few Pro features for the photographer who doesn't need to make 13x19 prints every day.
(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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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:
- 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.
- 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)
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].
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
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