FLASH! First sample photos online from Canon EOS-1D!
Argh! No pictures - October 2 1/2 notice above!
We just today (well, yesterday, but we haven't slept!) got our eval sample of the Canon EOS-1D (Dang! it's fast!) It's going to take us a fair while to dig through all its capabilities in our usual exhaustive manner, but we knew people were eagerly awaiting sample photos. To accommodate, Dave wandered around a bit today, and shot a number of test photos with it. He stayed pretty close to the camera's defaults, but we'll have a more in-depth examination of the camera's programmable tone curve capabiltiy in about another week. Meanwhile, check out Dave's test shots from today!
Special "Preview" Information on Canon EOS-1D!
As a company, Canon is known for cautious entry into a market, followed by killer execution. Such now seems to be the case in their approach to the professional digital SLR business. When Canon announced the EOS-D30 digital SLR a bit over a year ago, people were surprised that Canon didn't refer to it as a "professional" SLR. Pros did generally agree that they'd prefer a faster, more rugged camera than the D30, but many D30s nonetheless ended up in the hands of professional Canon shooters. In the meantime, many in the industry felt that Canon was being left behind by Nikon's tour de force with the D1, followed this year by the D1X and D1H. In typically Canon fashion though, they've now not only answered the nay-sayers, but upped the ante a good notch or two in the areas of speed and environmental ruggedness. With today's announcement of the EOS-1D, Canon has finally revealed what their idea of a "professional" digital SLR looks like, and it's an impressive vision indeed. We've been promised a unit to test and shoot with in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime have put together a comprehensive preview of the new camera's features and specs, as well as a little perspective on what we perceive as being the most significant advances. Read our preview for all the details!
Full review of Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro posted!
No doubt about it, scanners continue to improve. The latest evidence of this is our recent test of Minolta's new Dimage Scan Multi Pro. We tested the original Dimage Scan Multi over a year ago, and the new model shows a number of improvements, not the least of which is its 4800 dpi resolution. (The highest of any scanner we've tested to date.) As its name implies, this is a multi-format scanner, handling anything from short pieces of 16mm movie film (with an optional adapter kit) all the way up to 6 x 9 medium format film. - And it keeps the same 4800 dpi maximum resolution all the way up to the full 6 x 9 frame size. (That's a 580 MB file, in case you were wondering.) The surprisingly compact Dimage Scan Multi Pro delivered excellent images in our tests, easily the equal of any other scanner we've tested, and we really liked Minolta's scanning software: It's easy enough for a novice to use, but has enough control to handle the toughest pieces of film. The film carriers are also very well designed, with many nice ergonomic touches. About the only complaint we could find to make against it was that maximum-resolution scans can take a *long* time to complete, and at least on our Macs, the scanning software wouldn't let us switch it to the background while scanning. Overall though, a truly excellent scanner. Check it out!
Software Review: Canto Cumulus
The second thing most digicam owners discover (after they realize that they really *do* need rechargeable batteries) is that photo files need management. - If you thought the shoeboxes full of photos in your closet were an unmanageable mess, wait till you see your hard drive after a month or two of digicam ownership! IR Newsletter Editor Mike Pasini took a look at Canto's Cumulus image-management program and generally liked what he saw. This is a true industrial-strength application for people who *really* need to get organized (if you make money from your photos, or ever hope to, it's almost mandatory), and Mike's review pokes into all the nooks and crannies. Highly recommended reading if you're needing to bring order to your digital shoeboxes!
Full review posted for Fuji FinePix A201!
There's always been a "low end" of the digicam price scale, but what's new now is the cameras in this category actually take very decent pictures. One of the latest is the new Fuji FinePix A201, sporting two megapixels and nice color in an affordable, simple-to-use package. We found a few issues to quibble with, including soft corners in its images and difficulty handling incandescent lighting, but the outdoor shots from the A201 were great, and it's color really excellent. A great choice for someone looking for an entry-level camera that's easy to use and takes great pictures. Check the review for all the details!
review posted for Nikon Coolpix 885!
It looks like this is "Nikon Week" at IR. In addition to the extensive "First Look" review of the Coolpix 5000 that we just posted, we've also completed our full review of the new Nikon Coolpix 885. This model is basically the "big brother" to the 2 megapixel 775, sporting a three megapixel sensor, and all the "scene" modes that make the 775 so easy to use in challenging conditions. While the 885 is intended to be very easy to use (and it is), it offers more advanced users a surprising range of creative and exposure controls, as well as advanced features like Nikon's unique "Best Shot Selector" for sharp photos when hand-holding long exposures. Overall, another impressive entry from Nikon in the middle range of the digicam market. Read the review for all the details!
for the long haul: "PowerBank" review posted!
Due to changing power requirements for digicams, we've gotten a number of emails over the past months about external power-packs. In particular, some of the newer Li-Ion powered cameras don't work with the conventional NiMH-based external packs. Likewise, some cameras with higher power demands don't work with those packs either. Finally, with people using the "prosumer" digicams for increasingly professional applications, extended battery life is an increasing concern. We'll be looking at several external power solutions over the next few months, but led off with Maha's two-model PowerBank line, marketed under the PowerEx brand name. These units are available in both NiMH and Li-Ion flavors, pack a pretty powerful punch, fit most cameras on the market, have a handy "gas gauge" LED readout, and can be charged on the go from a cigarette lighter. Pretty slick, and the Li-Ion version works just fine with Li-Ion based cameras like Nikon's full Coolpix line, the Olympus E-10 and E-100RS, and also powers high-power NiMH-based cameras like the Minolta Dimage series. Read the review for all the details, these gadgets look like winners!
(Extensive) First Look review posted for Nikon Coolpix 5000!
Seeing the 5 megapixel cameras coming out from Minolta, Sony, and Olympus lately, many people have been wondering what Nikon might be up to in that area. Well, wonder no more! Today, Nikon's announced the Coolpix 5000, a logical extension of the high end of their Coolpix line into the 5 megapixel arena. There's a lot new about this camera (as Nikon fans will immediately be able to tell just by looking at the photo at right.) A totally new body design, with an "articulated" LCD display instead of the signature swivel-body of the 900/950/990/995 line, for one. Also a new lens design and a top-mounted hot shoe flash connection. (Hooray.) There's a lot that will be thoroughly familiar too though, as there are only minor tweaks to the user interface that's worked so well for Nikon across their Coolpix line. The prototype unit we received was a pretty early version though, so our report is necessarily somewhat limited. While the full tale won't be known until we can get our hands on a production model and see how it really performs, we think there's more than enough here to whet the appetites of Nikon aficionados, and get them counting their pennies. (We suspect this will prove to be the camera that many current Coolpix owners were waiting for to upgrade to.) Check it out!
Full Review posted for Minolta Dimage 5!
We were impressed with the Minolta Dimage 7 which we've reviewed previously, now we've taken a look at the near-twin Dimage 5. About the only significant difference between the two is the Dimage 5's smaller sensor (3 megapixels vs 5). We did notice some increase in cycle times and autofocus speeds though, and also felt that the Dimage 5's color handling was better than the Dimage 7's. If you've been looking at the Dimage 7, but can't quite float the price, the Dimage 5 offers much the same capabilities at a significantly lower price. Check it out!
Full Review posted for Minolta Dimage S304!
This camera packs a lot of the functions of the Dimage 5 & 7 into a more conventionally-styled camera case, with conventional optical viewfinder, and 4x zoom (vs 7x in its higher-priced siblings). Overall, a good, workmanlike camera, with good color (once the images have been run through the Dimage Image Viewer software utility to convert to sRGB for monitor display), another excellent Minolta lens, and a strong feature set. Read the review for all the results.
Software Review: Andromeda's Varifocus Plug-In
There is a very fine line any image editor must learn to observe. It's the line beyond which believability dissolves. Image editors make it very easy to composite images, moving a gorilla shot at the local zoo to your living room couch, say. But it isn't believable (generally speaking) because you are mixing outdoor light and indoor with completely different shadow effects to boot. So when we say you can do selective focus in your image editor, we aren't talking about your everyday Guassian blur. We're talking about using a sophisticated Photoshop-compatible plug-in like Andromeda's VariFocus. VariFocus provides an easy-to-use graduated blur with a comprehensive set of masks for all your image editing fantasies. Check the review for all the details!
Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 1.0
The recent release of Adobe Photoshop Elements 1.0 is a little like seeing a mouth-watering dessert arrive at the table just after you've polished off a seven course meal. Great, but who needs it? The Imaging Resource Newsletter editor Mike Pasini reviews Adobe Photoshop Elements from the perspective of a new user. Not what it can't do, but what can it do. And how much help is it? Read the review and create your own opinion...
Full review of Olympus D-370 posted!
After a round of fairly high-end pro-oriented products (the Nikon scanners, Epson 1280 printer), it's almost a relief to lay hands on a simple point & shoot for a change! The Olympus D-370 is a nice little 1.3 megapixel camera with limited adjustments but pretty decent image quality. Probably the biggest news with it is that it's the first digicam we've seen that can actually operate fairly happily from standard alkaline AA cells. While we still *strongly* recommend rechargeable NiMH cells and a good charger (see our review of the Maha C-204F below), it's nice that garden-variety AAs are a viable backup solution for the D-370 on trips, etc. Read the review for all the details...
Full Review posted for Nikon Super Coolscan 8000 ED film scanner!
This completes our roundup of Nikon's new scanner models, and it looks like we've finished up with a bang. (Figuratively speaking, of course.) The Super Coolscan 8000 ED handles both 35mm and medium-format film, delivering a full 4000 dpi across the entire width of 6x7 (up to 6x9) 'chromes. (That means scans a total of 10,000 pixels wide!) The level of detail it delivers is truly incredible. We also were very interested to find that the illumination system of the 8000 ED is quite different from that of the smaller Coolscans. The downside is that it seems this makes the Digital ICE defect-removal technology a bit less effective on the 8000 than on the smaller models. BUT, the very (very) good news is that the Super Coolscan 8000 ED has a remarkable ability to "see around" minor dust and scratches: The raw scans are phenomenally clean, and the end results after applying Digital ICE are notably superior to the 35mm-only models. At less than $3,000 for a high-end scanner capable of handling medium-format film, the Super Coolscan 8000 ED looks like a great bargain for practicing pros. Read the review for all the details!
Full Review posted for Nikon Coolscan IV ED film scanner!
We reviewed Nikon's new Super Coolscan 4000 ED scanner a couple of months back, now have completed our analysis of its "little brother", the Coolscan IV ED. It looks like a lot of the capabilities of the Coolscan 4000 ED have migrated down to the Coolscan IV, making it a very strong player in the sub-$1,000, 2700-2900 dpi market segment. At 2900 dpi, the Coolscan IV ED does capture less detail than the 4000, and its 12 bit A/D doesn't reach quite as far into the shadows as the 14-bit unit on the 4000. That said, two of the biggest contributors to the 4000 ED's excellent performance have made it across to the IV intact. - The ED (extra-low dispersion) lens and the exceptionally "quiet" electronics. The net result is that the Coolscan IV ED easily outperforms last year's top-of-the-line Coolscan, the LS-2000. Check the review for all the details and sample scans!
C-204 battery charger reviewed!
Well, after reviewing multi-thousand dollar scanners and high-end digicams, you might think that a $25 battery charger would be a bit of a come-down. Actually, the C-204 NiMH/NiCd battery charger is every bit as good at doing what it does as the best of the high-end cameras or scanners we've seen. We've gotten quite a bit of email over time about batteries, chargers, and other power-related issues. Being an EE (Electrical Engineer) by original training, Dave is actually a bit of a "battery geek" himself. (Well, maybe more than a bit. ;-) The last few months, he's been putzing about in his electronics lab with various batteries and chargers, and is about to the point that he'll have something coherent to say on the whole subject. For a start though, he's reviewed the little charger from Maha that's become our solid favorite in the studio. The C-204 is cheap, versatile, and actually does about the best job of packing a full charge into NiMH AAs of anything we've come across. Read the review if you must, but if your camera uses AA batteries and you don't get one of these, you'll have only yourself to blame for half-dead batteries that quit way before they should. Just go buy one and thank us later. ;-)
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420