|Volume 1, Number 7||17 December 1999|
Welcome to the seventh edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter!
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Taking close-ups -- extreme close-ups where the recorded image is life size or larger -- used to require a lot of expensive equipment like bellows, extension tubes, supplementary lenses, reverse collars, ring strobes and special macro lenses. Not to mention fast film.
But many consumer-level digital cameras include a macro mode, putting this previously obscure photographic activity in just about everyone's hands.
And, boy, is it fun.
Some of the hard-learned lessons of the old days are worth repeating, but with a digicam most of the drudgery is history. Still, there are important limitations when you start shooting real close up.
THE MACRO LENS
Not every digicam offers a macro mode and among those that do, the macro capabilities vary. Cameras with very wide angle lenses often have a very close minimum shooting distance (say, three inches) while zooms tend to require you to back up to five or six inches (unless, like the Nikon 900 series, you can attach a wide angle supplementary lens).
The most important rule of macrophotography is to stabilize the camera. Any camera movement at close range will blur the image.
A tripod will do the job but it isn't absolutely necessary. A hand-held shot often works (and sometimes you have no choice). The point is to stabilize the camera -- and provide some mobility, too. The easiest way to frame your close up shot is to move the camera not the lens or the subject.
That's because the critical focusing distance in close-up photography is the opposite of normal photography. We normally focus by changing (ever so slightly) the distance between the lens and the film plane (where the CCD sits) and change the size of the image by moving the camera closer or farther away from the subject. But in macrophotography we focus by moving the lens closer or further away from the image and change the magnification by moving the lens further or closer to the film plane.
Stabilizing the camera includes eliminating camera shake when you press the shutter. But read our Beginner's Flash in this issue for more about that.
Focus can be a problem.
If you have an optical viewfinder on your digicam, it almost certainly (there are exceptions) isn't displaying what the lens sees. It's sitting alongside the lens, and in the case of a zoom lens, moving in tandem with it as you zoom in and out.
This isn't a big deal when the subject is middle distance or further away. The parallax correction (the correction for the difference between what the lens sees and what the viewfinder shows) is minor. But very close up it's significant. Your viewfinder is just not on the same page. And utterly useless.
If you have an LCD, you can frame your shot but focusing is very difficult. The resolution of the LCD just doesn't let you see when you're in focus. Some camera manufacturers advise hooking up the video out cable to a television monitor and using that to focus with.
Assuming you can focus at all. Many cameras, happy with their autofocus, don't provide any means of manually focusing the lens.
Which can be a problem with extreme close ups because not much of the subject is in focus. Focusing manually is the only way to select the fraction of an inch depth of field you want to highlight.
The best workaround for the focus problem is to make sure you are within the manufacturer's stated range for the lens and light the subject as brightly as you can. That will make your lens stop down or "squint," giving you the deepest depth of field possible.
One of the blessings of digital imaging is that most cameras automatically balance the light source. Fluorescent overheads in the garage do not make everything look green, incandescent lamps in the living room do not make the walls yellow. Everything looks natural.
You can use that to your advantage when lighting your close ups.
Throw every beam you've got at your subject: candles, flashlights, carbon arcs, halogen headlights, oven lights, matches, lighters, strobes, anything. Don't worry, the camera will balance it.
What about the built-in flash?
Odds are it's optimized for a middle distance group shot. You'll probably have to filter it to get it to illuminate anything close to your lens. In a pinch it will do (but be sure to let the lamp cool between shots if you cover it to diffuse it). Better to rely on other light sources, even off camera flash triggered by your built-in flash.
Of course, some subjects look unnatural if their natural lighting is disturbed. And some profit from light that isn't white. Just stabilize the camera and let the shot take as long as it takes. But the more light you can provide, the deeper the focus will be.
Don't put those Christmas ornaments away until you've snapped a few. They're ideal subjects. So is all that holiday jewelry. Who knows, they could end up on the cover of your Christmas cards next year.
Valuable small items like coins and stamps are good subjects, too. They don't move for one, but detailed images of these valuables are much appreciated should you ever have to file an insurance claim for their loss.
This is also a great way to share those priceless keepsakes and mementos with other family members: a grandfather's watch, the engraving on a locket. Unless, of course, they don't know you have them.
Close-up photography let's you see many otherwise unappreciated things in a new light. Experiment with your camera's macro capabilities a bit and we think you'll agree, small is beautiful.
Feature: Kodak DC-290 -- Digita-based platform goes 2 megapixelBy DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging -resource.com/PRODS/DC290/DC290A.HTM on the Web site.)
BRIEF PERSPECTIVE FROM DAVE.
This review has been one of the most-requested over the last couple of months: Kodak's cameras based on Flashpoint's Digita operating system allow really interesting opportunities to tinker with the camera, writing "scripts" that create unique functions beyond what the standard menus provide. Also, these are the high-end consumer digicams from Kodak, and the units that you'll be interested in if you're looking for things like external flash support, extended low-light capability, etc..
Given the above, people have been anxiously awaiting the advent of a two megapixel sensor in this lineup, and the DC290 is the product that provides it. Kodak's made some significant changes "under the hood" though, beyond just upgrading the CCD chip: They've dramatically improved the image processing, eliminating much of the "crunch" in the images that people have attributed to compression artifacts. At the same time, they now include an uncompressed image-storage mode many users have been asking for. - See the full review on the site for more information on all of this, and read our comments on the Pictures page for the camera for all the gory detail on how the camera performs in different shooting conditions. The bottom line though, is that the DC290 is a significant advance for Kodak on several fronts, and addresses issues that many users raised with the predecessor DC260/265 models..
The DC290 offers the convenience of a compact and rugged body and the ease of a virtually all automatic exposure mode. The back of the square plastic body features a soft, textured coating where your hands go and there's lots of finger and hand grips, so you get a good, firm hold.
We were pleased with the location of the battery and CompactFlash compartments (right next door to each other on the side of the camera) making them accessible while mounted on a tripod. The retractable lens features a tethered lens cap that keeps you from worrying about where you put it last. Another bonus on the camera design is the inclusion of an external flash sync. A hot shoe would have probably been a little more convenient, keeping you from having to hold the flash or use a separate flash bracket. On the other hand, a sync cord gives you more control over the location of the flash, a benefit in many shooting situations.
The DC290 offers both a real image optical viewfinder and a color LCD monitor. An interesting feature on the LCD monitor is the interactive information display. The top line gives information on the camera, letting you know it's ready to take a picture or that the subject is too far out of range. The bottom line corresponds to the three softkeys beneath the monitor, allowing you to view setting information and change between Still, Burst and Time-Lapse photography. This is helpful when you don't want to go through the camera's extensive menu system, which can become tedious once you get to know the camera.
The DC290 sports a glass, 8mm to 24mm 3x zoom lens (equivalent to a 38.4 to 115.2 mm lens on a 35mm camera) with maximum apertures of f3 and f4.7 at the wide angle and telephoto ends respectively. Autofocus ranges from 1.0 feet (0.3m) to infinity and manual from 1.6 feet (0.5m) to infinity. Although there are no filter threads on this lens, the Kodak accessory literature offers a close up lens kit and various lens adapters for this model. (At least two third-party adapters are available as well; see the main body of the review.) Since the camera doesn't come with a macro function, you might want to purchase the close up kit for any macro shooting. The 2x digital zoom function on the DC290 doubles the zoom range to 6x, but remember, quality is always sacrificed with digital zoom. Three focus options are available on the DC290: Multi-Spot Autofocus, Single-Spot Autofocus and Manual focus.
As far as exposure goes, you're pretty much in automatic mode all the time, with a few manual adjustments available to you. Lens aperture is only directly adjustable in external flash mode. Likewise, shutter speed is only controllable when using the long time exposure setting. You do have control over white balance, exposure compensation, flash, image quality, resolution and the type of exposure (burst, time-lapse, etc.). White balance gives you five options (Auto, Daylight, Fluorescent, Tungsten and Off) and exposure compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 EV. The built-in flash offers Automatic, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill and Off settings. You also have a variety of image quality and resolution settings, with pixel sizes from 720 x 960 to 2240 x 1500. (Note though, that the "Ultra" resolution mode is interpolated, and offers little real improvement beyond that of the uninterpolated 1792 x 1200 mode.)
When it comes to exposure modes, the DC290 offers several options. Burst mode allows you to take between 4 and 16 images, depending on quality settings, in rapid succession. Time-lapse lets you set up the exposure and choose an interval from one minute to 24 hours in between each shot. You also specify the total number of shots. The Advanced Exposure Mode setting under the settings menu gives you the option of Programmed AE, Long-Time Exposure, Exposure Lock and External Flash. Programmed AE is pretty straightforward, putting the camera in control of everything. Long-Time Exposure gives you from 0.5 to 16 second exposures for low light subjects (flash is disabled). Exposure Lock does exactly what it sounds like and locks the exposure settings to create a series of consistent images. (Useful for panorama shooting.) External Flash merely works with an external flash and allows you to set the aperture of the camera.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the DC290 is its incorporation of FlashPoint's Digita scripting system, which allows you to write "scripts" (simple programs) to automate processes, or give the camera unique capabilities. The DC290 comes with several default scripts already installed, adding various functions. For example, the bracketing script shoots three images consecutively with three different EV values (you get to set the exposure increments). Another example is the Resolution Series script which shoots a range of pictures with different resolutions. The only complaint we have is that this process is a little time consuming once you understand how the camera works, since it goes through several information screens before actually performing the task. It's very informative on your first attempt, but after that, you want to speed up the process a little. (One of the advantages of the scripting system is that you can fairly easily reconfigure the scripts to customize them to your own needs.)
We thought it was interesting that the DC290 includes a small sound recording function, allowing you to record up to two minutes of sound for an image (a useful tool for keeping vacation shots straight).
As befits its computer-like processing capability, high resolution, and large LCD screen, the DC290 really eats batteries, especially when using the LCD monitor. It runs on four AA alkaline or AA NiMH rechargeables and we strongly recommend keeping some spares or the AC adapter around. (To their credit, Kodak provides high-capacity rechargeable batteries and a charger in the box with the DC290.) An NTSC audio/video cable comes with the camera (PAL for European models), allowing you to view images on a television set and hear any of the sounds you may have recorded (especially nice for the slide show playback option).
We liked the inclusion of the Adobe PhotoDeluxe and PageMill software programs, giving you extended photo manipulation capabilities and Web tools. We were also thrilled with the included USB cable. It's interesting, however, that for Windows users, the accompanying software is only compatible with Windows 98. All other versions (Windows 95 and NT 4.0) require a trip to Kodak's Web site for a quick little connection kit. Mac users should have no problems if running OS 8.5 or higher.
The DC290 is a good camera to have around for impromptu events or casual rambles, perfect for those consumers who don't want to mess with the technical side of things too much. On the other hand, its scripting capability makes it a natural for system integrators or tinkerers interested in developing custom applications.
A standard RS-232 serial and USB cable come with the DC290 for quick connection to a Macintosh or PC. Additionally, if your PC is compatible, you can take advantage of the IrDA infrared connection as well. Three software CDs come with the camera, one offering Kodak digital camera programs for Windows and Macintosh (featuring various utilities for downloading such as watermark conversions and mounters). The two remaining CDs hold Adobe PhotoDeluxe and Adobe PageMill (one for Macintosh users and the other for PC users). Software is compatible with Macintosh OS 8.5.1 or higher and Windows 98 (a connection kit for Windows 95 or NT 4.0 is available online when you register your camera with Kodak's Web site).
The Kodak software is relatively simple to use, allowing you to grab images from the camera and move them to your computer. The CD itself has a very friendly MacroMedia interface which guides you through the setup process and points you to Kodak's web utilities. The included Adobe PhotoDeluxe gives you fairly expansive photo manipulation capabilities, with a variety of filters and manipulation tools. There are templates for labels, greeting cards, frames, t-shirt setups, etc. An impressive feature is the Internet connectivity selection, which helps you get your images ready for the web. Adobe PageMill carries your web capabilities further by allowing you to setup simple Web pages with your photographs.
We've reviewed a number of Kodak cameras in the past that used Kodak's "Mounter" software. This is a fairly slick driver program for Windows that actually mounts the camera on the desktop as if it were just another disk drive. With serial-connected cameras, the mounter interface sometimes strikes us as more nuisance than it's worth, given the slowness of the connection. With a speedy USB connection though, the equation changes considerably, and the drag-and-drop functionality becomes a real convenience. This is the case with the DC290, which worked smoothly with the Mounter software on our Windows 98 test machine. As noted above, transfer times are very quick, with a 1.0 megabyte file taking only 7.1 seconds to download. That's a transfer rate of 141 Kbytes/second -- very impressive!
Overall, the DC290 produced excellent pictures: It carries on the tradition of bright, accurate, saturated "Kodak color" that we've observed in other digicams made by Kodak. (Kodak cameras consistently have some of the best color handling among all the digicams we test.) The image processing algorithms in earlier versions of this camera (DC260/265) tended to obscure fine detail in areas of low contrast, such as the model's hair in our outdoor test shot. The DC290 shows none of this behavior though, and in fact also (finally!) offers an uncompressed image-storage mode that users have demanded for quite some time.
The DC290's lens is distinguished by some of the lowest geometric distortion we've measured to date, ranging from an almost-imperceptible 0.25 percent barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of its range, to zero at the telephoto end. Chromatic aberration is likewise almost non-existent, only 0.03 percent at wide angle, and none detectable in telephoto. We did observe though, that the lens on our test unit showed some softness in the image at full telephoto, more apparent on the left-hand side of the image. Side-to-side variation in the performance of the lens itself is extremely unlikely though: Some physical misalignment (possibly caused by shipping damage?) is the most likely cause of this lateral variation in sharpness. (Most digicams we test show a slightly softer focus with their lenses at the telephoto setting.
In our resolution tests, the DC290 performed well, about mid-range for the current crop of 2.1 megapixel digicams, with a solid 650 lines per picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions, and detail clearly visible to 700 lines.
The DC290's viewfinder system is better than most. The optical viewfinder is about typically accurate, showing tested, showing 85 percent of the final image area at telephoto, increasing to 89 percent at wide angle. We did find a roughly half-degree of rotation in the optical finder, but we doubt this would cause problems for all but the most exacting work. Like that on other Kodak cameras we've tested though, the LCD viewfinder is exceptionally accurate, showing exactly 100 percent of the final image area, with no rotation or offset at all. (If your photography requires precise framing, Kodak digicams are a great choice, thanks to this LCD accuracy.)
The DC290 lacks a true macro photography mode, the lens focusing down to 12 inches under normal autofocus control. This results in a reasonable if not microscopic minimum capture area of area of 3.0 x 4.5 inches (76 x 114 mm). For closer work, see our recommendations in Web version of the review for the Xtend-A-Lens and LensMate adapters and macro lens sets.
The biggest surprise of our testing came in the low-light work we did with the DC290: Kodak has managed both a lower-than-average noise level and exceptional color balance for the camera even in very long time-exposures. While the ISO 100 sensitivity means you'll need to use long shutter times to get low-light pictures, the pictures that the DC290 captures under low-light conditions surpass any we've seen to date (November 1999) with any other camera.
The DC290 is an impressive offering from Kodak, extending their Digita(tm)-based product line into the 2 megapixel arena. This latest model provides high resolution (including an uncompressed storage mode for the first time), superb color, and unmatched low-light capability. Studio users will appreciate the external-flash capability, system integrators will like the powerful Digita scripting language, and everyone should like the high-quality images the DC290 produces. Overall, a very worthy extension and significant upgrade to the high end of Kodak's consumer digicams.
Beginners Flash: Cooking with the Self-TimerOne common misconception we feel obliged to dispel is that phone booths, Volkswagen Bugs and self-timers require at least 14 people. This isn't the case with self-timers.
It's undeniable that your camera's self-timer is indispensable if you want to get yourself included in a group shot. And no one is such a beginner that they don't know exactly how to go about that. Set the timer for an unreasonably short duration, press the shutter, and leap into the center of the group, taking out as many of them as possible (and turning around to face the camera with a smile) before the shutter trips.
But the self timer has another valuable function you may not have thought about.
It can be used in low-light situations (like museums where flash photography is prohibited but photographing the permanent collection purchased with your tax dollars is not) to minimize camera shake. Camera shake is the leading cause of blurred images of stationary objects. And pressing the shutter button is the leading cause of camera shake.
Just set the timer, frame the shot, remove your finger from the shutter, relax and hold your breath until the shutter trips.
You may not have a perfectly sharp picture (some slight movement is almost always unavoidable), but you'll have a less blurred one.
Advanced Mode: New Year's ResolutionsAre there a few things you always meant to get straight but somehow keep slipping out of grasp. Well, we're going to resolve them for you before the millennium is out. We're talking about resolution, bit depth, and color space. Stuff you have to know to get your license.
The following Resolution Comparison chart shows the difference in approximate (your mileage may vary) uncompressed file size of several popular imaging resolutions in three different image modes. The value of the chart is in showing how 2 megapixel CCDs stand up to 1 megapixel and VGA CCDs (and film and PhotoCD), not so much with precise file sizes). Remember 1K is equal to 1,024 bytes.
IMAGE SIZE (bytes) CAMERA CCD SIZE Grayscale RGB CMYK 35mm film [grain] - 100,000,000 - PhotoCD 3072 x 2048 6,291,465 18,874,368 25,165,824 Nikon 950 &
1600 x 1200 1,920,000 5,760,000 7,680,000 1024 x 768 786,432 2,359,296 3,145,728 Kodak DC265 1530 x 1024 1,566,720 4,700,160 6,266,880 1152 x 768 884,736 2,654,208 3,538,944 768 x 512 393,216 1,179,648 1,572,864 VGA 640 x 480 307,200 921,600 1,228,800
If your camera isn't on the list, just use this formula to calculate the values for your CCD: multiply the CCD's pixels across by the number high (h x w) to get a grayscale value. Multiple the grayscale value by 3 (red, green and blue) to get the RGB image value. And the grayscale to the RGB value (one more channel) to get the CMYK image value.
We're switching to monitors now. And not just monitors but system video. Which can be provided on the motherboard or by an add-on card (usually offering some sort of video acceleration).
You may never know how good your camera is if you're viewing your images on a system that can't display all the color information captured by the camera.
Your camera records 24-bit RGB images. Which is to say that for every pixel or picture element of the image (every spot), your camera will record a value for red light, green and blue that can vary in intensity by up to 8 bits. Three eights (3 x 8) are 24, hence 24-bit. So if the camera records 4 bits of red and 1 of green and 7 of blue for one spot it's purple.
The idea of this RGB data is to drive the red, green and blue guns on your CRT like dimmer switches. Setting just one bit of the eight on is pretty romantic, while setting them all on is searchlight stuff.
Any color monitor is capable of displaying a 24-bit RGB image -- but not every computer is. Some computers have only enough video memory to display a 16-bit image (5 bits for each gun), some even less for 256 colors. Here's how it breaks out:
BITS COLORS NOTES 24 16,777,216 aka millions of colors, true or full color 16 65,536 aka thousands of colors 8 256 where color imagining starts 4 16 when the Mac was B&W and the PC had color 2 4 black, white, plus two grays 1 2 black and white
If you don't have 24-bit color on your system, you may be able to:
- Use a lower screen resolution so the video RAM can be more generously used for color. With just 1 megabyte of video RAM you can still get 24-bit color if you use a 640x480 pixel screen. With 2 megs you can use a finer 800x600 screen display, and with 4 megs a 1024x768 display.
- Install more video RAM
- Install a video card that supports 24-bit color
But you may not be able to push your video system to 24-bit. It depends on your computer model. But don't despair. Quite a lot can be done in 8-bit with intelligent use of thecolor palette. Some years ago the paintings of the National Gallery in London were digitized using nothing more than 8-bit color for a popular CD.
And what about 32-bit color? Well, behind the RGB curtain you'll see it's nothing more than 24-bit color with an 8-bit alpha channel, perhaps used for transparency.
Let's get RGB and CMYK straightened out first. They're the two most common color spaces. Got a color television? You've got RGB. Got a color magazine? You've got CMYK.
What's the difference?
Well, the television tube transmits color and the magazine page reflects it. Transmitted color is handy in a dark room: you can watch television. Reflected color isn't quite as useful in a dark room: everything is black.
Your camera records RGB color information. But your printer has to print CMYK (it's making pictures without batteries after all, so the light is going to have to be borrowed, or reflected).
And this causes problems.
Partly because the range of colors in RGB (or color gamut) and the CMYK color gamut are not equivalent. Which is to say, simply, that you get a lot less colors in CMYK than you do in RGB. Your printer can't mix its four inks to match what that dimmer switch of a monitor can display.
Unfortunately red-eye is well within both color gamuts.
Just for Fun: Magnetic AttractionNeed a last minute gift idea for those drop-in holiday guests?
Mix that library of digital images you have with one inexpensive item from the office supply store of your persuasion to solve this perennial problem with custom, personalized kitchen magnets.
You pick the images (which is the fun part). They can be personal if you know who's coming, or not (holiday shop windows are fun).
To make them magnetic pick up a pack of Magna Card business card magnets. Each business card-size magnet has a peel-and-stick side to mount your image. Permanently, we should add. A package of 25 costs about $11.50.
You can buy the magnets as large as 4x6 inches, but not everybody has a walk-in refrigerator we recommend the business card size. Particularly since it accommodates four 2x3 inch images on a 4x6 print (which you can print yourself or order from Ofoto).
Trim your print to final size and lay it gently on the card. You won't be able to align the image to the magnetic card once it's made contact so be careful. You can certainly do it by eye but if you're worried about getting it just right, use the inside corner of an old shoebox top as a jig. Put the magnet in face up and put the image into the corner, touching both sides as you set it on the card. Burnish lightly.
You can trim any excess magnet with a pair of scissors.
You can wrap them as miniature presents but you really should tell people to open them. We've found our magnets on the refrigerators of certain family members still wrapped long after the holiday. They thought they were little magnetic presents. Which, if we were Martha Stewart, they might have been.
Dave's DealsTrial downloads of the (excellent) PhotoGenetics imaging program are still available. If you decide to purchase PhotoGenetics, be sure to come back through this URL (http://www.q-r es.com/php3/downloads.php3?refid=imgresource) to receive the special $5-off deal for Imaging Resource readers!
We Have MailYou can email us at [email protected].
I have a Canon SLR film camera and I hear that backs will be made to convert a film camera to a digital camera. I wish to read about such devices. I don't want to scrap the investment in the camera and $2,000 in lenses.
-- Abel Garcia(The product you're thinking about, I believe, is at http://www.siliconfilm.com and called Silicon Film. We've been waiting for the product launch for a couple of years now. Be sure to read their FAQ for some important caveats. -- Editor)
Editor's NotesOfoto Inc. announced it will give away $50 million in free prints through Jan. 15, 2000. Ofoto will reward its first one million members with 100 free 4"x 6" prints to be used any time in the year 2000. Consumers that take advantage of this offer will also receive free shipping for their first order.
"This promotion gives everyone a jump start on participating in the digital photography revolution," said James Joaquin, president and CEO, Ofoto. "Anyone who uses a digital camera, knows someone with a digital camera, or is even thinking about getting a digital camera, will want to sign up for this offer. We're confident that when people try our service, they will agree it's the easiest, quickest and most convenient solution for getting great prints."
(DAVE'S INSERTED NOTE: A lot of our subscribers (hundreds and hundreds, I'm told) signed up to help Ofoto with the beta-testing of their site, in response to the special bulletin we sent last week. Ofoto asked me to pass along a big "thank you" to everyone who participated - The hundreds of (free!) orders you submitted were very useful for helping work the the kinks out of their system!)
Kingston Technology Co. has expanded of its Flash memory product line with the introduction of high-capacity ATA Flash cards ranging up to 512MB. The new cards set a new low price point at approximately $2.73/MB for a 512MB ATA Flash card.
"The Kingston ATA Flash cards are the result of combining Kingston's expertise in memory design and innovative PC Card technology," said Christina Chu, Flash product manager, Peripherals Division, Kingston. "Consumers want to take advantage of higher capacity solutions to increase their storage necessities in electronic devices, such as digital cameras, handheld PCs and data storage of notebooks. New electronic devices being released today demand higher storage in order to use the device to its full capabilities," added Chu.
Based on a Type II PC Card form factor using NAND flash memory technology, the Kingston ATA Flash card part numbers and manufacturers suggested retail prices are:
- DP-ATA/224, a 224MB flash card is $635
- DP-ATA/320, a 320MB flash card is $890
- DP-ATA/448, a 448MB flash card is $1,240
- DP-ATA/512, a 512MB flash card is $1,400
Analog Devices, Inc. has announced the development of a new high-performance analog front-end product family to brings higher resolution pictures and longer battery life to digital cameras and camcorders. The AD984x family of AFEs uses a proprietary architecture that produces higher quality pictures by allowing digital cameras to rapidly and accurately convert "real-world" images into digital content without generating excessive noise. In addition, the AD984x family requires up to 50 percent less power than previous solutions, extending camera battery life.
"The AD984x architecture is the first of its kind in the imaging industry," stated John Hussey, vice president of high-speed converters, Analog Devices. "As the marketshare leader in digital camera and camcorder AFEs, Analog Devices is pleased to introduce yet another family of high performance AFEs with superior noise performance at power and pricing necessary to cover a broad range of camera products."
The first member of Analog Devices' new AD984x family, the AD9840, offers twice the sampling rate of previous solutions and produces lower noise, while consuming less power. The AD9840 is a 10-bit AFE with a sampling rate of 36 mega-samples per second. This AFE will support the larger charged- coupled-device pixel arrays and higher scan speeds that are found in next-generation high-resolution camcorders.
Soon to be released members of the family include the AD9843 and AD9844. The AD9843, designed for lower-end digital cameras and camcorders, is a 10-bit AFE that samples at 18 MSPS while producing one-fourth the noise and consuming less than one-half the power compared to previous solutions. Another 18 MSPS AFE, the AD9844, introduces 12-bit resolution that improves dynamic range in high-end digital cameras, resulting in better picture quality. The next generation of digital cameras and camcorders using ADI's AD984x architecture will offer improved image quality, regardless of sampling rate.
Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. said it exposed its new breakthrough digital camera technology in advance of its release to some of the foremost American professors working in optics.
The professors from Stanford, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of California at Berkeley, and Dartmouth College independently reviewed Fuji's Super CCD digital cameras to be released next summer, and gave its design high marks.
Each professor looked at Fuji's new honeycomb-shaped Super CCD Image Sensor Technology given their own unique and very specialized knowledge of digital optics. The professors' preliminary reviews were extremely positive, Fuji said.
- Dr. Abbas El Gamal, professor of electrical engineering and one of the foremost developers of optical systems at Stanford University: "The honeycomb CCD sensor used in Fuji's new camera represents a significant step toward achieving film resolution at low cost. The honeycomb structure achieves higher pixel density than the more traditional interline or progressive scan square grid structure at lower manufacturing cost."
- Dr. Harland Epps, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and an expert in optics and digital imaging of outer space at the University of California Santa Cruz: "The images from the prototype of the new camera are breathtaking in sharpness of detail, dynamic range and especially in the accurate reproduction of the full color spectrum."
- Dr. Michael Harrison, professor of computer science and an expert in electrical engineering at the University of California Berkeley: "The implications are quite significant. It results in a higher signal-to-noise ratio as well as a wider dynamic range. The resulting images are very impressive."
- Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, professor of neuroscience, and an expert in the brain and perception at Dartmouth: "Over millions of years of evolution, the human eye has emerged as an exquisite device that is sensitive to color, brightness, shape and distance. With the new honeycomb technology Fuji is beginning to mimic these characteristics of the human eye thus leading to life-like pictures. It is an exciting time."
We first covered Fuji's Super CCD in Mike Tomkin's special Comdex report at http://www.imaging-re source.com/IRNEWS/19991120.HTM in v1n5 of this newsletter.
If you're in San Francisco, don't miss "Degas to Picasso: Painters, Sculptors and the Camera" at the Museum of Modern Art through Jan. 2. The exhibition explores the role of photography in the finished work and the conceptual processes of the following artists: Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Brancusi, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Fernand Khnopff, Gustave Moreau, Alphonse Mucha, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso, Franz von Stuck, Felix Vallotton, and Edouard Vuillard.
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