|Volume 2, Number 23||17 November 2000|
Welcome to the 31st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. With this issue we begin weekly publication through the end of the year to keep up with the latest deals during the holiday season. Whether you're shopping for a digicam or need some low-cost gift ideas, we'll help you get the picture.
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by nearly 40,000 U.S. readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].
"Why don't stores that sell digicams display prints?" a reader asked recently. It's a question we haven't been able to dismiss. And after a recent foray into the steel-reinforced brick and mortar world of digicam stores, an answer looms.
Usually when we want to check out the latest hardware, we just wander over to the Golden Gate Bridge or one of the cable car turntables and wait for a tourist couple to ask us to take their picture. In half a minute we get a rundown on the latest Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Minolta, Kodak, Ricoh, Fuji, you name it.
But to answer that print question we had to hit the stores. And we did. We hit the big camera stores (where the sales guy dedicated to digicams fumbled on about the "pixel problem"), the little camera stores (where the owner never seemed present and the "help" was occupied with either boyfriends or phone calls), the all-purpose chains (hey, where is that Photo Joe guy? Making another commercial, we guess) and the electronics chains (where the salesdudes were Dobermans whose barks were less than their light).
"We're interested in a digital camera," we would invariably explain.
"OK. Well, uh, what do you want to do with it?" was the brightest reply we got. But we're mischaracterizing it. It might have been helpful once upon a time to ask that question about computers but asking it about cameras is way out there. You're interested in a camera to take pictures, obviously. That's all they do.
Our universally dismal in-store experience is unfortunate because it does indeed help to pick these things up in your hands. Even with all the pictures, you can't get a feel for these babies until you hold them, see how small and light they are, how they rest in your hand, whether you can see through the viewfinder or not, how responsive they are. They beg, in short, for a test drive.
But the in-store demos are rarely powered, always tethered, without media and usually so dirty we can hear Auntie Nightingale LVN screaming, "Germs! Germs!" from some dark deep recess in our memory. Jeez, cameradudes and digidudettes, instead of wandering around the aisle looking propellered, shine up the merchandise. You've got time.
So where are those prints?
Well, these guys don't sell printers, see. So no prints. And even if they did, they'd be in a different department. Near the computers. And no, there isn't a card reader out of box hibernation connected to anything so you can take a picture and print it yourself. Can't imagine why. Even a used car dealer puts a little gas in the tank.
Actually, the truth about a digicam is that it's just one piece of a system. You may be able to extend your present system to accommodate a digicam, swapping some components or adding one or two new devices. But to actually do anything with a digicam, you need more than the camera. In this game, you press the button and you do the rest.
Without film, of course. "No film? How do you get prints?" is a question everybody with a digicam has probably been asked.
Sure, there are ways to get prints, but prints are just one of the things a digicam can produce (and not usually the prettiest). We digicamers fall quickly in love with the image on the monitor. And we'd much rather burn a CD to share (if we can) than laboriously sit there and punch out prints.
So what exactly are the basic parts of a complete digicam setup? Let's do inventory for the holiday season.
Put all that together and you can see why very few stores are prepared to sell the whole package. We've come a long way since George Eastman sold us a black box that we had to send back to him to get our prints and reload with film. Now, we can do it all ourselves. And we bet, like us, you find that very exciting.
- The digicam. Can't overlook this one. Shop where you're comfortable returning it. Some purchase protection is invaluable.
- Standby power. Big one, don't overlook this either. If your digicam takes AAs, you need Nickel Metal Hydride batteries and a trickle charger for them. Two sets. Run you about $50-70. Thomas Distributing or Radio Shack.
- Media. Sad to say we've yet to see a manufacturer provide a card with any real room. They are all way too small. You'll need at least a 32-MB card for a 3.34-megapixel camera. About $2 a megabyte today, although if you keep your eyes peeled, you may get close to $1. Buy this online and save.
- The photo suite: tripod, bag, filters, lenses, strobe, gadgets galore. These are not essential and many can be pilfered from a 35mm setup (and hence garage sales).
- A graphic workstation. Some people call it a computer, but let's face it, this is a demanding application. Your personal computer has to be able to handle (not just display) 24-bit graphics with enough RAM and hard disk storage. Each year this is less of a problem (except the RAM, where 64-MB is a squeeze), but it could be your biggest bottleneck. Mail order is great if you've owned one before, but if you're new to the game (unsure, that is, if the problem is you or the machine), go where they don't mind holding your hand after charging your card.
- Internet capability. Well, this should go without saying, but it seems to need it all the same. A 56K modem, at least. So you can tap into online photo processing, sharing and emailing images. Service providers are charging under $20 a month for dialup Internet access and under $40 for DSL.
- Software. Big, big deal. You can't "get there from here" without an image editor. Fortunately there are shareware products for both Mac OS and Windows that will get you going if your digicam did not ship with something (and most do, particularly the starter cameras).
- Off-line Storage. Which, bang-for-buck, means a CD writer. Don't make the mistake of calculating this investment solely on the hardware device. You need duplicate copies of your work and a lot of work it will be. Burning $1 650-MB CDs is a no-brainer. Buying more expensive removable disks of lesser capacity isn't going to happen. Same buying advice as a computer.
- Printer. At least an inexpensive, photo-quality inkjet. You'll get a lot of mileage out of it and have a lot of fun printing your images as large as 8x10. How many of us have that luxury? We're usually squinting at 4x6 "jumbo" prints. We'll give you jumbo. Just buy an inkjet (from the place you bought your computer).
- Photo paper. And don't scrimp on the paper or you won't have any idea what the big deal is. Buy photo glossy (and not lightweight) at your neighborhood SuperOfficeSupplyJoint.
- Frames. So you have that handful of 8x10s and you really do just love them. If you want to see them, you have to display them. Buy some 11x14 photo frames (about $8 each) and put them up. You can always change the pictures when you get tired of them or give them away. So go nuts at garage sales, flea markets, discount chains.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F40/F40A.HTM on the Web site.)
Fujifilm has had a number of major product announcements but perhaps their most unusual is the FinePix 40i. Combining an MP3 player with a high-resolution Super CCD digital camera, the 40i's sleek styling helps define a new category of "multimedia fashion accessory." The combination of music and pictures is a natural for the teen set, but the 40i seems aimed at a higher market, both through its price ($699) and its higher picture quality (a full 2.4-megapixel sensor, interpolated to create 4.3-megapixel files. We're not sure if its price point will fly with consumers and we have a few quibbles on the user interface -- but there's no question it's a neat toy, and we've always said that any camera you actually have with you takes more pictures than one sitting at home in a drawer. Given the added lure of portable music, the 40i is a good candidate to become a constant companion, and its good color and high resolution mean the pictures you snap are likely to be keepers.
Digital imaging and music are two of the hottest technological trends these days, with throngs of consumers taking advantage of advances in these new media. Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. combined the best of both worlds by pairing a compact digital camera with a portable MP3 player: the Fujifilm FinePix 40i. Measuring a mere 3.4 x 2.8 x 1.1 inches, the 40i slips easily into just about any pocket, and the clip-on remote control and inconspicuous mini earphones make it a very convenient vehicle for listening to MP3s on-the-go.
The 40i's imaging capabilities include a 2.4-megapixel Super CCD, which produces images as large as 2,400 x 1,800-pixels. Its built-in, 8.3mm, fixed-focal-length lens (equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera) has a fixed aperture of f2.8, and is protected by a sliding silver disk that retracts into the camera body when the power is switched to Record mode. We're always grateful for this design element, because it eliminates the problem of keeping up with a lens cap. Since there is no optical zoom on the 40i, Fujifilm included a 3.75x digital zoom. (An optical zoom feature, even a small one, is preferable since digital telephoto compromises image quality by decreasing resolution.) The eye level, real-image optical viewfinder provides a very tiny glass eyepiece, with an autofocus target in the center of the field of view, and an external LED light that reports camera status. A 1.8-inch color LCD monitor is provided for image composition, and an informative information display reports exposure settings (shutter speed and aperture) when the shutter release button is depressed halfway. (Though you don't actually have control over these settings, it's nice to know what the camera has selected.)
Exposure is automatically controlled at all times, despite the somewhat mislabeled "Manual" mode setting. Auto mode gives the camera complete control over all camera functions, with the exception of flash mode, digital telephoto, and the file size and quality settings. Switching to Manual mode merely provides the ability to change the white balance setting and exposure compensation; the camera continues to control shutter speed and aperture. White balance settings include Auto, Outdoors (sunny), Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. Although there is no option for setting the white balance manually, the 40i's extensive range of white-balance settings does a good job of matching most light sources you may encounter. Exposure compensation is also adjustable in Manual mode from -1.5 to +1.5 EV in 0.3-step increments. The F40i's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Sync modes.
The F40i's light sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 200, which may account for the moderate noise level visible even in bright images. The shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/4 second, meaning that the camera isn't designed for shooting in very low light situations, although we were able to obtain images in light as dim as one foot candle, or 11 lux. (About what you'd find in a typical nighttime city street scene.) The F40i also features a movie recording mode, which records up to 80 seconds of movies with sound, at approximately 10 frames per second. Movie images are automatically recorded at 320 x 240-pixel resolution, and provide a more limited 1.88x digital telephoto function.
The camera's MP3 player capabilities are activated by sliding the power switch to the Audio position, and connecting the wired remote control. The remote features a small clip for attaching to clothing, and its control buttons double for use with the MP3 player as well as certain camera functions. Using the remote control, you can start and stop MP3 playback, skip forward or backward to specific songs, adjust the volume, control the playing mode, and adjust the bass level. The MP3 playback modes allow you to play each song once, or select from several repeat options.
The 40i stores images on a SmartMedia card (a 16-MB card is included), and SmartMedia "ID" cards (each one assigned a unique identification number) are required for MP3 playback. The accompanying Audio Downloading Software package converts MP3 files to .SQV encrypted files before downloading them to the SmartMedia card. When the files are downloaded, the software associates the downloaded MP3s with the SmartMedia card's ID number, presumably to prevent any further copying of the files to a friend's card. A USB cable is supplied with the camera, as well as a software CD that includes Fujifilm's utilities for downloading and organizing images, performing minor corrections, preparing images for printing, and playing back movie files. Also included are two applications (Mac and Windows) for creating MP3 files from audio CDs.
U.S. and Japanese models are supplied with an NTSC cable for connection to a television set (European models come with the appropriate PAL cable and signal timing). The A/V cable, combined with the versatile remote control, makes the 40i a rather interesting presentation tool as well. Two NiMH rechargeable batteries (NiCd can also be used) and a charger are supplied with the camera, and an AC adapter can be purchased as an accessory.
Overall, the F0i is a fun little camera, meant for on-the-go shooting. Its dual function as a camera and MP3 player make it very versatile, and its compact, portable shape ensures it won't be left behind. Even with auto exposure limitations, the 40i does a great job in most normal shooting situations, producing nice image quality and color. The multi-purpose remote control is efficient and easy to use (as is everything other aspect of this camera) and the MP3 functionality is of high quality. We give it our Nod of Approval. It's a unique device that should suit many active consumers.
Probably the most interesting function on the 40i is its MP3 playback capability. The camera comes with a set of mini-earphones and a wired remote control that can clip onto a shirt or pants pocket. The Power/Audio switch on top of the camera puts the 40i into MP3 playback mode by sliding the switch to the Audio position (left). The wired remote must be inserted into the Remote jack on the left side of the camera to control Playback, Pause, Volume, Rewind, Fast Forward, and Skip functions. The back of the remote features the Bass and Mode buttons, as well as a Hold switch. The Hold switch locks the buttons, preventing them from being accidentally pressed. The remote also features a small display panel that reports battery power, bass level, playback indicator, mode display, track number, volume, and the Audio mode icon.
Several MP3 playback modes are available: Normal, Repeat All Tracks, and Repeat Track. The Normal mode plays all of the tracks on the SmartMedia card, then stops at the end. Repeat All Tracks plays each of the tracks and then repeats them, until you signal the playback to stop. Repeat Track continuously repeats the same track, until it is stopped. The Bass button also offers three modes: Normal, Bass 1, and Bass 2. Normal keeps the bass at a normal level, while Bass 1 and Bass 2 incrementally increase the bass sound. The 40i comes with MP3 downloading software and requires SmartMedia with ID cards for playback, both of which are discussed later in this review.
We feel the 40i's MP3 capabilities were somewhat of a mixed blessing, but at the same time, don't think it entirely deserves some of the knocks it's taken from other reviewers. One major peeve we have with it probably isn't Fuji's fault at all, but is more an issue to lay at the feet of the RIAA and others in the music industry seeking to impose technological solutions to copyright-infringement problems: We were quite surprised to discover that we couldn't simply drag-copy MP3 files to the memory card using a card reader, but rather had to go through the somewhat laborious process of "encoding" them onto the card using Fuji's provided software. This ties the files to a specific memory card, reducing the potential for copyright infringement by users copying files between each other's cards. Frankly, this is an absurd limitation, given that MP3 files currently float freely all over the Internet with no such restrictions. And since you're likely already starting out with an MP3 file anyway (one that's not encrypted or tied to a specific card) what's the point? We're not sure who's idea this was, or who's enforcing the need for it, but it strikes us as one of the more pointless attempts at copyright protection we've seen yet. (For the record, we're actually strong proponents of artists being paid for their work, and are generally in the anti-Napster camp, but this really struck us as bordering on the absurd.)
The second major beef we had with the 40i's MP3 capability is that it's very awkward to manage memory card space between MP3 files and camera images. We can imagine setting out with a card full of music, and subsequently deleting songs as we take more pictures, to make room for the photos. The 40i doesn't allow this. The camera only gives you the option of deleting all audio files, or none. There's no way to selectively toss out one or two of the files from your card. In our minds, this is a glaring user-interface omission that we'd like to see corrected in future models. (One workaround though, would be to simply carry a second card for your images, and swap them in and out as needed. A bit cumbersome, but the SmartMedia cards are so tiny, you can easily carry one in your wallet without noticeable bulk.)
Our third gripe has more to do with the realities of product pricing and the memory demands of MP3 files than it does any inherent limitation: The 16-MB SmartMedia card included with the camera is just too small to be useful for audio uses. You really need to plan on buying a 32- or better yet 64-MB card to be able to effectively mix audio and pictures, and that represents a hefty additional investment.
Having roundly criticized the 40i, we'll now come to its defense: Some reviewers have given the 40i bad marks for its audio capabilities, because it only supports a maximum bit rate of 128 Kbps: The feeling is that true "CD quality" requires at least 160 or more likely 192 Kbps. (Kbps stands for kilobits per second, a measure of how much data is used to construct each second of live audio. Higher numbers mean higher sound quality.) While we personally tend to digitize our own CDs to 160 Kbps for listening on our computers, we don't think the 40i deserves any special criticism for the 128K limitation: Many "high end" products (we're thinking of a particular "MP3 Jukebox" used in high-end car-audio installations) share the same limitation. We don't intend here to engage in a full-fledged debate over the merits of various bit rates, but merely want to point out that 128K is a limitation found in many products, many of which cost more than the 40i. For a portable device, we find 128 Kbits/second quite acceptable.
Fujifilm's combination digital camera and MP3 player definitely caught our attention. Initially, we didn't expect much from the FinePix 40i, because of its very limited exposure controls, however we were pleasantly surprised at its test performances. The camera does a wonderful job in average shooting situations, with great image quality and color. Combined with its very portable design and fun MP3 player capabilities, the 40i should be a popular new arrival on the digicam scene.
Dave and news editor Mike Tomkins have been busy at both PhotoPlus East Expo and Comdex since the last issue.
Be sure to catch Mike's coverage of PhotoPlus East Expo at https://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PHOE00/PHOE00.HTM where Day One covers Fuji, Kodak, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Phase One. Day Two visits the Agfa, Contax, Epson, Foveon, Hasselblad, Imacon, Leica, Lexar, Polaroid, Leaf and UMAX booths.
Then feast on Mike's Comdex coverage at https://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/CDXF00/CDXF00.HTM (which was just getting rolling as we put this issue to bed.)
You, of all people, know what a valuable resource Imaging Resource is when you have questions about digital imaging. Hardware, software, techniques, you name it, you've seen us twist ourselves into pretzels trying to answer your questions candidly and quickly. It's almost as if we knew it all.
But we're only one resource on the Internet. And as the frenetic holiday season approaches, we're going to reveal a few of our favorite tips for quickly and efficiently getting information using nothing more than your Web browser.
Sometimes you know exactly what you need information about. Does the Mysterion DCS-934 Zoom have a serial port? Are there accessory lenses for my iCyclops? Where can I buy part number 45MX09A? That's when to visit a search engine.
At any search engine, you'll find a small text entry box where you can type in "DCS-934" or "iCyclops" or just that part number to get a list of links mentioning those terms on their page.
Over the years (as the Internet has grown to over a billion documents) we've favored one search engine for a while, then another. For some time we found http://www.metacrawler.com (which submits your inquiry to several search engines at once) helpful. But it began returning lists that needed more weeding than our garden. There are other meta-search engines around, but we preferred something a little more intelligent than a scatter-shot approach. Not to mention very lean (no ads) and mean (well, user-friendly).
We found it at http://www.google.com where Google's software robot, Googlebot, scours the Web, evaluating the text included in the links to a site, the text on each page and the importance of sites linking to it. Consequently, we usually find exactly what we're looking for at Google. And very quickly.
But Google isn't perfect. If we don't get good results there, we sometimes fall back on a meta-search engine, but before we give up, we take a look at the "Related Sites" button on our browser. If your browser doesn't have one, get the Alexa toolbar for your system at http://www.alexa.com/.
This ingenious little button taps into the incredible Alexa Internet project, which crawls over 118 gigabytes of information a day to build over 31,500-GB of local storage dedicated to snapshots of the entire contents of the Internet. Dead links? Not at Alexa.
In addition, these sites are ranked by visitors and indexed by Alexa which monitors where visitors go and analyzes the text on a site so "Related Sites" turns up relevant places to go from where you are.
Single terms and simple searches are not always what we need. If we have a specific question (like "How do I print digital photos?") a site like Ask Jeeves at http://www.askjeeves.com/ can be helpful. They specialize in plain English inquiries (but if you think English is plain, you haven't been on a bus lately).
Yet another approach we try is something more subject-oriented, like the Librarian's Index to the Internet at http://lii.org/. This site is a searchable, annotated subject directory of over 7,000 sites picked by librarians "for their usefulness to users of public libraries." If your search fails here, a nice table of helpful suggestions provides easy-to-follow advice. Just what you'd expect from a librarian.
And if you'd like to pursue this subject properly, visit the University of California's excellent online tutorial "Finding Information on the Internet" at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/FindInfo.html. It even starts out nice and easy with a review of your browser and how to use bookmarks.
But if even that sounds a little intimidating, don't give up until you try ICYouSee's Guide to the Web for Absolute Beginners at http://www.ithaca.edu/Library/Training/ICYouSee.html.
Searching the Web can be a lot of fun (compared to doing laundry, anyway). And who knows, spend a couple of minutes at the sites above and you could know more about this stuff than we do.
It's been a while since we've seen an episode of Sister Wendy waxing poetically on PBS about some museum-quality masterpiece. If we learned one thing from her appreciation of art it was that art must be seen to be appreciated.
"Seen" is an understatement, really. Art must be lived with. Stick a postcard of one or another "masterpiece" somewhere you'll see it every day, as she did, and by the end of the week you may find it has come to mean something to you.
We were winding our way home from a little photo excursion the other day (shooting some teleconverter tests at a deserted Pac Bell Park), when we stumbled onto a new cafe that sported tables in only a third of its space. A good third was dedicated to a gallery of "emerging artists for emerging collectors."
Some 64 artists, we learned. Of which a handful were hung in something like tall office partitions. Half a dozen pieces each. You can see the collection at http://www.hangart.com. Sale prices were about $300 a piece. But you could live with the piece by renting it for three months for about $100 or so.
"Any photographers?" we asked with our gear hung conspicuously from both shoulders, our neck and our waist.
"Not yet," came the red-eye reply, "but we're still expanding."
Which made us think, having nothing else to do before an unusually tall iced mocha, what a digital photographer's exhibit might look like.
Let's say we start with frames only a digital photographer could love: those digital picture frames. Six of them. That may put us in the dark corner, but it would certainly raise the base price. We might even be taken seriously without the bother of passing on first.
Now, let's put a removeable medium in each of them -- CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SmartCard, your choice. And display landscapes on all six frames (well, let's make two of them portrait mode but landscape subjects).
Say a couple of "emerging collectors" (their budget shot at Pottery Barn, they suddenly realize they have nothing to hang of the walls) wander in. "Oh, look," the more emergent says, "photographs of Yosemite!"
Sound promising? Just wait.
"I hate photographs of Yosemite. It's been done to death!" the subtle one says.
But at the mere hint of italicized speech, the display changes to six different images. Exotic flowers, for example.
"Did you see that?" the first grabs the second by the arm. "They're all flowers now!"
"Flowers? I hate flowers. They make me sick!"
And again, tripped by the italic, the display changes to postcard-sized monotone scenes of modern urban life.
"Modern urban life? I hate modern urban life! There's no parking."
This could go on a while, 20 rounds at least, even with a modest removable card. But it would have to end somehow. For no other reason than to find a more likely buyer. Coming to the end of our iced mocha, we had just the thing for the final sequence of images: mirrors.
"Look! They're all me!"
"You? No they're not. You've been done to death. They're all me!" And, just for fun, as the gathered crowd applauds the artist's last laugh, all the frames -- responding to the clap -- turn off. The only way to get them on again would be, hmmm, the sound of a credit card swipe.
Now that's what we call artfully framed.
New IR advertiser Printroom.com has an exciting new program called Shoot & Share that not only helps organize all your digital photos, but also lets you upload entire albums with a single mouse click. No more tedious one-at-a-time uploading through your browser, just click the button and relax! To celebrate their new software, they're sponsoring a sweepstakes just for Imaging Resource readers, with a prize of $500 worth of free printing services. (That's a lot of prints, including any mix of 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 enlargements!) To register, just visit https://www.imaging-resource.com/sweeps/printroom/enter.html. Then download and enjoy your free copy of Shoot & Share for Windows. There'll be a random drawing Jan. 15 and the winner will be announced both here and on our site.
Canto, you may have heard, has just announced a special Christmas deal on the $99 Cumulus 5 Single User Edition. Just $49.95. Which might upset you if you took advantage of their $84 offer here (via [email protected]) that ended Oct. 20. Except -- hold on to your hat -- Canto is reducing your price to $45 (you can get a refund via [email protected]) and extending the $45 price to all our readers through the end of the year.
PhotoParade is offering Imaging Resource readers a special $9.99 price (regularly $12.99) on Photo Viewer, their new Windows software to view and manage digital photos. You can display, browse, rotate losslessly and rename photos and turn them into desktop wallpaper or view date and time taken, shutter speed, aperture, and resolution if available. Just visit http://www.photoparade.com/coupon.asp?code=IR3 to get the discount.
Trial 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-res.com/php3/downloads.php3?refid=imgresource) to receive the special $5-off deal for Imaging Resource readers!
Whiteboard Photo, available directly from the Pixid Web site at http://www.pixid.com, is available for Imaging Resource readers at $20 off the usual $99.95 list price, for a net of only $79.95 at https://secure.teleport.com/~peterwh/pixid/order_ir.html only. See our review at https://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/WBS/WBSA.HTM on the Web site.
Binuscan is offering Imaging Resource readers a discount on Watch & Smile from $89 to $49 (plus shipping and sales tax). To order, contact Binuscan, Inc., 437 Ward Avenue, Suite 101; Mamaroneck, NY 10543; voice (914) 381-3780; [email protected]; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at [email protected].
RE: Cable Release
When using the new Olympus E-10 at a slow shutter speed -- like photographing a family portrait in the shade at a shutter speed of 1/8 and f8 for a little depth of field -- I would assume that you use the remote to trip the shutter to avoid any camera shake? Or is there a cable release socket?
-- Bob Hitchcock(The venerable cable release socket seems to have disappeared entirely. We suspect this has to do with the non-mechanical nature of the digicam shutter button, in which a half-press does a lot of things. Remotes (at least with a cable) typically enable the half-press functions (but not by connecting to the shutter; usually by controlling the camera through a serial or USB port). -- Editor)
RE: Extend a Lens
As the recent purchaser of an Epson PhotoPC 3000Z digital, I really appreciate all the excellent advice and info in your newsletter. Thank you "muchly"!
I still have an Olympus OM2 lens collection (8x macro, up to 1000mm catadioptric-mirror-telephoto and top-of-the-line telextenders) and would like to be able to couple some of these lenses to the Epson, using an appropriate adaptor. (Seems a shame to have them, and not be able to use them.)
I have a small collection of various plano-convex and plano-concave simple lenses (and can buy more from local science supply house) and an Olympus bayonet lens mounting plate and a smattering of optical design knowledge gained as an engineer.
Any help from anyone, with experience, would be extremely welcome!
-- R. M. Schultz(Interesting project, Robert, but we can't give you any reason for hope. The Oly lenses are prime focus lenses, not front-element add-ons. But let's ask our readers and see what happens. Readers? -- Editor)
RE: Copying Slides
I have just read your latest issue with an article on copying slides, and thought that your UK readers might be interested in the SRB Film Service (http://www.srbfilm.co.uk).
I originally bought one of their slide copying attachments to allow me to transfer slides to DV tape. We never get the slide projector out these days and I wanted to capture the images before they fade totally. As I used "Super Slides," SRB reamed out the bore of the unit to allow full coverage. This unit attaches via the lens thread, so to use it with my Nikon 950 was simply a matter of ordering a stepping ring. Their stepping rings also allow the attachment of filters from my SLR kit, particularly the Polaroid filter, and their Instrument T-Set allows attachment to telescopes and microscopes.
SRB also makes a "DC Custom Mount" -- a universal bracket system that locates a filter threaded ring close to the lens of Digicams which do not have a threaded lens mount. This attaches via the tripod socket.
Henry Arance was asking for a source of 28mm filters. SRB has them at 20 UK pounds.
Thanks for an excellent newsletter.
-- Neville(Thanks, Neville! And you're welcome. -- Editor)
RE: LensDoc Doc
I found out something interesting about using LensDoc.
No.1: Lensdoc isn't compatible with MGI PhotoSuite IV as yet. (Even though MGI advertises that their latest product is Photoshop plug-in compatible.)
No.2: Cropping of your photo occurs when correcting perspective. I just thought you'd like to pass this info on to others.
-- Charlie Young(Thanks, Charlie. Andromeda is fairly forthright about compatibility, publishing a table at their Web site. The perspective issue is addressed in the documentation, which explains how to handle it in Expert mode. -- Editor)
RE: How to Cap It
I read your site long and hard before taking the plunge with an Olympus 3030. Many thanks for all the helpful advice.
One point: You take exception to the removable lens cap, but make no mention of what to my mind is potentially a far graver irritation. The lens cap has to be taken off to switch the camera on, allowing the lens to zoom out. Since the lens remains extended while the camera is switched on, how are you supposed to protect it between shots? The lens cap does not fit the extended lens. Is there a cap that WILL fit?
Switching off between shots seems a bit of a song and dance, and not so good on batteries, I suspect.
-- Keith Clarke(We've used everything from plastic film canister tops to UV filters depending on the camera. Dave? -- Editor)(One option is to buy the CLA-1 filter adapter, which puts a barrel around the lens with threads at the end. I'm not sure if the cap will fit the barrel. Just tried checking, couldn't find my cap! ;-) but I think so. It definitely interferes with portability, as you have this barrel thing sticking out the front of the camera. But it does serve to protect the lens, not only against smudges, but against knocks and scrapes as well. -- Dave)
RE: Nikon Cap
The helpful people at B&H fixed me up with a Tiffen Lens Adapter (TILAPNC900), $19.95 and the Tiffen 37mm Photo Essentials Kit (TIK37), $44.95. With this setup, the 990 (and 950) can be adapted to take the full line of Tiffen 37mm filters. Top quality at a bargain cost and everything fits and works well. How many 990's do you see with a circular polarizer? Mine and what other one? Great results, fine fit and function and the know-how of the always helpful techs at B&H. Good deal, I say.
-- Ed Wright(Thanks for the tip, Ed! (Readers, Ed later confirmed there's no obstruction in the optical viewfinder either.) -- Editor)
In the last issue you don't tell us where to contact LaserSoft. I'd like to get more information from them on their SilverFast DC software. Thanks!
-- Lynda Gosney-Smith(Sorry for the nuisance (it wasn't in the press release and we neglected to chase after it): try http://www.silverfast.com/english/ -- Editor)
RE: Confirm or Deny
In the last newsletter I read about the Olympus P-400 with much interest. Especially the sentence, "Amazingly, the cost per print is less than that for ordinary inkjet output." Could you be more specific about that?
-- Rob van de Velde(Inkjet prints of photos are surprisingly expensive. Ink typically costs over a dollar per 8x10 print, if you have fairly heavy coverage (as in a photo). Printer manufacturers advertise per-print costs and speeds based on 5 percent coverage, which is typical of text. 100 percent coverage is obviously much more expensive. Add the roughly $1/sheet cost of high-quality photo glossy paper to the more-than-a-dollar you're paying for ink, and typical prices end up in the $2 to $2.50/print range. The Olympus P-400 has a total media cost of $1.80 per print. Still not dirt cheap, but a good 10 percent less than typical inkjet prints on high-quality photo glossy media.... The P-400 is really impressing us, although we've found it to be rather slow when running standalone. We're just setting up for the print-time tests from the computer, where we believe it will be much faster. Really an excellent printer overall though! A full review should be forthcoming pretty shortly. -- Dave)
SanDisk and Lexar have announced a settlement agreement on patent infringement actions and all other claims and counterclaims currently before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California and the District of Delaware. Under the settlement, Lexar has provided SanDisk with an option for a royalty bearing license to its patents for use in certain future SanDisk products.
Rune Lindman has released QPict for Mac OS X (http://www.glunet.se/qpict). QPict for Mac OS x has been adapted to the Aqua motif and takes advantage of Mac OS X's new virtual memory manager.
Canto has released 2PDF AssetProcessor for the Cumulus product which converts assets on-the-fly, centrally at the server, to PDF. Assets can be stored and managed in their original format (PowerPoint, Word, InDesign or QuarkXPress, etc.) but be retrieved and published in PDF. The Cumulus 2PDF AssetProcesser is available for $995 per server at http://www.canto.com/e-shop.html.
Ulead (http://www.ulead.com) has announced Ulead Photo Explorer 7.0 Pro, a complete media management tool for acquiring, organizing, converting and sharing image, video and other media files. New features include extensive cross-media support and superior batch editing and sharing features. Available both online ($24.95) and in a new retail box version ($29.95), online upgrades are $9.95.
Ricoh has introduced the RDC-i700 digital camera (http://www.ricoh.co.jp/r_dc/icd/pc/index.html), a 3.34-megapixel, Internet-ready RDC-i700 imaging tool that can capture still images and video, send and receive email with attachments, send images of documents directly to fax machines, surf the Web, create image-rich documents and HTML files, and FTP data and images directly from the camera. Currently available in Japan for $1,500, it is expected to be available in the U.S. early next Spring.
Photela (http://www.photela.com) introduced the TV Slideshow at Comdex Fall 2000. The TV Slideshow is a floppy-disk based device that displays digital photos in JPEG format on a standard television. Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, it will retail for about $100.
Ofoto (http://www.ofoto.com) rings in the holiday season with a new Click-to-Win sweepstakes. The grand prize is a Canon Digital Elph PowerShot S100 camera, a 2.11-megapixel digital camera valued at $599. Second prize is a free set of holiday photo cards and third prize is 10 percent off a frame from the Ofoto Frame Store.
Nikon is offering a holiday bonus of $50 on top of the original $100 rebate on its Coolpix 950 digital camera. Nikon said it will continue to offer a $75 rebate on the Coolpix 800, 2.11-megapixel, 2x Zoom-Nikkor digital camera. Both rebates expire on Dec. 31. Download the application at http://www.nikonusa.com.
C Technologies AB (http://www.cpen.com) introduced Magic Stick, a multi-purpose pen-sized device, at Comdex 2000. Similar in size to a whiteboard marker, Magic Stick combines the functionality of the original C-Pen with digital camera, PC pen and mouse. It can scan names, telephone numbers and other business card details directly into the address book of any mobile device. And it can scan URL addresses into a WAP Web browser to automatically connect to a Web site.
ArcSoft (http://www.arcsoft.com) has released a version of the $99.99 PhotoStudio for the Mac OS. Previously available for PC users, the new offering gives Mac enthusiasts a full-featured but inexpensive image editing alternative.
Artly There Software (http://www.artlythere.com/compositor.shtml) has released version 1.0 of Compositor for Mac OS. According to the company, Compositor allows you to "pre-visualize an image or photo composition and to create whole new visions from a base image" with over 120 built-in filter and channel coloring effects. We played with it briefly but had to get back to work (it's a lot of fun). The fully-functioning time-limited demo expires after 28 days but registration is only $16 via Kagi.
Zing (http://www.zing.com) has announced an alliance with Hewlett-Packard to launch the HP Creativity Center on Zing Network. In addition to investing in Zing Network, HP also is sponsoring Zing's print at home functionality and is fulfilling orders of poster-sized prints through the Zing Store.
Zing also announced a strategic alliance with Canon Software Publishing to provide online photo printing and sharing services to users of Canon Photo products.
But wait, there's more: Zing revealed that Nikon has selected them to build and operate its first consumer photography community Web site (http://www.NikonNet.com). Based upon Zing's core technology and infrastructure, NikonNet will offer a broad array of online services for storing, organizing, sharing photographs; and creating prints and custom frames for its amateur and professional customers.
ArcSoft has announced the launch of Panasonic's photo-sharing destination, PictureStage.com (http://www.picturestage.com/). Jointly developed by ArcSoft and Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics Industries of America, Inc., the site, operated by ArcSoft, will be available this month to consumers worldwide. PictureStage plans to offer free registration and approximately 50 pictures of free storage space on registration.
Got a Nikon 950 or 990? Visit http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/s.html for The Nikon eBook, Peter iNova's eBook on the Nikon digicams.
Next week! (Don't forget.)
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher