D1x review updated to include Fred Miranda "ISOR" action!
I first became aware of Fred Miranda's "ISOR" noise-reduction actions for Photoshop when I wrote my Coolpix 5000 review. If you haven't seen them in action, they're truly amazing, do an absolutely incredible job of removing image noise without disturbing the underlying detail or blurring everything out to a soft mush. Really incredible! Fred's now done an action that's customized for the Nikon D1x, and I've patched mention of it into my review of that camera, with an example of it's effect taken from one of my standard test photos. - There's also a link to a page with another example of its working, more info on the actions themselves (there's actually several, to deal with different types of noise in different ways, at different ISO settings), and links to purchase it. If you're a D1x owner, and also have Photoshop 6.0 or later, Fred's actions should be a complete no-brainer! Check it out!
Prints for Pros Without the Pain
(And how an amateur can "turn Pro" with minimum investment!)
In late 2001, I reported in our Newsletter about a slick online service offered by Printroom.com that handles all the backend hassle of print order fulfilment for practicing pros or anyone else who needs to deal with large numbers of print orders in an efficient manner. I was impressed with how powerful, easy to use, and flexible the service was, and still am today. Feeling that the Pro Studio service could be a real help to many of our readers, I decided to break out that earlier article, expand on it a bit and promote it more to the pros and serious amateurs visiting our site. This is a fantastic service for a whole range of pro and semi-pro photographers. Check out the review!
The Great Imaging Resource Battery Shootout!
Right after the camera itself, and having a large enough flash card, batteries are probably the most important element of your digicam "kit". In the AA-powered world, there's been a flood of different makes and models of NiMH rechargeables hit the market in the last year, with wildly varying claims of performance. I've been tinkering with battery testing as a background task for the last year, and have finally gathered all the data together into a massive "battery shootout." The results are interesting, to say the least, with some batteries rated at lower mAh capacities performing better than others with higher mAh ratings. Read the shootout article for all the details...
review of Epson 2000P archival inkjet printer posted!
Phew! This was one of those printer reviews that just seemed to stretch on and on. I wanted to be sure to cover everything though, and there was a lot that needed exploring. More than virtually any other inkjet printer in the last several years, the Epson Stylus Photo 2000P has rearranged the face of photo printing. This is because it's the first inkjet printer to offer true archival print life (rated 200 years plus on Epson's Archival Matte paper), and at an affordable price no less. While a good bit more expensive than consumer-level inkjets, the archival quality of the 2000P means professionals (or serious amateurs) can finally print their photos themselves, even for commercial sale. No worries about the print fading if someone leaves it near a bright window for a few months! I spent quite a bit of time with the 2000P, and found that it was a powerful photographic tool, but also one that demanded more attention than simple consumer models. Careful attention to color handling is well-rewarded, but best results with it really do seem to require some personal tweaking. I also address the much-ballyhooed "metamerism" issue with the printer, with a couple of samples showing what it's all about, and some personal observations of what I think it's impact is. The bottom line? - I rarely reveal such personal details, but the 2000P is the printer that now graces the table next to my desk: I've happily accepted the time investment the printer seems to demand for the assurance that all our family photo albums will still be bright and unfaded when my grandchildren look at them many years hence. Check it out!
Wacom's Intuos Graphics Table Review Posted!
Wacom recently reinvented its popular pressure-sensitive graphics tablet, revealing the Intuos2 at Seybold San Francisco in September. We've had a chance to get intimately acquainted with the 6x8 tablet and tell all in an expanded illustrated version of our earlier newsletter review. Read our review for more details!
Pentax Optio 430 short-form review posted!
This is the sister product to the Pentax Optio 330 camera we reviewed a few days ago. The physical design is identical, the only differences being internally, with the 430 having a full four megapixel CCD, vs the 3 megapixel CCD of the 330. Same 3x optical zoom lens, same very good color. The main tradeoffs made to accommodate the larger chip are poorer low-light capability, and slightly higher image noise. (Note that the 430 does share some of the same limitations as other subcompact digicams I've tested, namely shorter battery life and images not quite as crisp as from full-size models.) Overall though, the Optio 430 would be a good choice for a compact, carry-anywhere 4-megapixel digicam. Check it out!
Pentax Optio 330 short-form review posted!
After a long hiatus, I'm back to some catch-up work in the review arena. Today it's the Pentax Optio 330, a very small 3 megapixel digicam with a full 3x optical zoom lens. Overall, a nice little camera, with good color quality and surprising low light capability. Also surprising is that it offers full manual exposure control as an option, rarely seen on subcompact cameras like this. I found the 330's images to be a bit soft (a common limitation of subcompact digicams, it seems), and the battery life was rather short (also common with compact models), but the images looked very nice, with good color and tone. Check it out!
Full review for Minolta Dimage X!
Over the last year, Minolta's really made some waves in the digicam world, starting with the first "prosumer" level 5 megapixel digicam, the Dimage 7, first announced last February. Now, they've pulled another rabbit out of their corporate hat, announcing the world's smallest 2 megapixel digicam with a 3x optical zoom lens. The new Dimage X is the tiniest camera I've tested to date, thanks to a clever lens design that mounts the lens vertically *inside* the camera's body. (An internal prism at the top directs light down into the lens/CCD assembly.) The resulting camera looks more like an MP3 player than a camera, appearing as a sleek square of aluminum, just slightly more than three-quarters of an inch thick. While I've tested a number of cameras now that qualify as "pocket sized", the Dimage X is without a doubt the most deserving of that description. A side benefit of the internally-mounted zoom lens is that there's no waiting for a telescoping lens to rack out when you turn the camera on: A little metal shutter slides back and you're ready to go. (Time from power on to first shot is a scant 2.7 seconds.) While the model I tested was only a prototype, I was quite encouraged by the picture quality as well - It's quite acceptable for a two megapixel camera, with seemingly little tradeoff for the diminutive size. Another happy surprise (for an all-automatic camera) was that it did pretty well in relatively dim lighting, snapping pictures around the house even in rather dimly-lit rooms. I see this as possibly the ultimate "always with you" digicam, a great unit for most anyone, including the enthusiast who doesn't want to lug their uber-camera along with them all the time. Overall, a very appealing package, and one that gets the rare "I wouldn't mind having one of these myself" stamp of approval. ;-) Check it out!
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420