Volume 4, Number 6 22 March 2002

Copyright 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 67th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We discover a great lighting kit, a digicam that's all wet and we take a hike. Oh, then we get on with our Missing Oscar presentation. Dress appropriately.


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:
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 44,400 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].

Feature: Photoflex's Basic Digital Lighting Kit

Our UPS guy is a saint. He always waits while we extract ourselves from the latest mess we've gotten into (as if our autograph were worth something). But the other day he outdid himself. He hauled the 14 lb. Photoflex Basic Digital Lighting Kit up the stairs to our lair.

This is a big box. We actually introduced ourselves to it and took off its coat before we realized it wasn't going to sit down and make itself comfortable. It did seem to enjoy the cashews, though.


The kit contains a lightweight tripod-like light stand, a fabric dome with a reflective interior and a separate white vinyl diffuser for the front of the dome, an elongated 500-watt incandescent bulb, a bulb housing, a swivel mount to connect the housing to the stand, a hefty connector to connect the dome to the housing and a power cord to connect to Thomas Alva Edison.

Oh, one more thing. A CD with seven lessons from the Web Photo School (

But there was no "Congratulations!" flyer greeting us when we opened the box. Just a bunch of boxes. Yikes.

So our first question was how comfortable we would be assembling it. When we recently completely dissembled, cleaned and successfully reassembled a front derailleur on a 20-year-old road bike, we were reminded of a valuable lesson. Understand the thing. How it functions. What it has to do.

And the only way to do that is to Read The Fine Manual.


In this case it was a delightful, browser-based presentation on CD. Had we bravely opened the boxes of the components, however, we would have found the printed assembly instructions inside.

But we wanted the big picture. What's this thing do?

For that the seven lessons were a great introduction. Profusely illustrated, they covered exactly the stuff we wanted to know.

We skipped the first, which showed us how to put stuff in our digicam. But we have to say, skimming through it, what a great intro for the new digicam owner. Good pictures, simple descriptions and great lines like, "You can only put it [the memory card] in one way." Reassurance, that is.

But the topics we did study covered shooting portraits with a single light source and shooting product photography with a single light source. Because the kit only includes one lamp. We really didn't think one would be enough.

The lessons are excellent. They start with an on-camera flash reference shot (what you've been doing) before introducing the Photoflex. Rather than simply demo a single setup, though, the lessons show how to use the Photoflex in a variety of ways, even adding reflectors. And every step is illustrated with example shots so you can immediately see the point of the change.

We were also amused to go through the lesson on compositing in Photoshop (in which a wild and crazy guy is captured inside a tiny glass bottle). Again, the steps were clearly laid out and the explanation started with the problem to be solved.

All this didn't take long. A cup of coffee. Then we were ready.


We started with the tripod. Nice stuff. Plastic knobs on three extensions and reinforced legs that spread as wide as you need to keep the stand stable. Very easy to lock and unlock. And lightweight. Put a hat on it and send it to Washington as Mr. Smith, we say.

Next we took a look at the housing. Nice, heavy metal. There's a protective cover over the ceramic socket and three "rails" to attach the swivel mount. We picked the rail without a logo on it, slid the mount on and tightened it.

The swivel mount drops onto the tripod where, with a twist of its lower knob, you prevent it from falling off without actually tightening it, so it can swivel. It also lets you adjust the hood angle.

The next piece we assembled was the dome tent. It was easier than it sounds.

It comes rolled in a compact sheath. Two pieces: the black exterior/silver interior dome itself with four built-in framing rods and the white diffuser that attaches across the opening with Velcro. The hood has heat vents held open or tented by Velcro, too.

This attaches to the lamp housing with a hefty metal connector plate. At the corners of the plate are four sockets for the tips of the four framing rods built into the hood itself. You pop one in, rotate, pop in the next until, presto, your flat fabric springs to life as a dome tent.

Now the tricky part.

The connector plate is hefty for a good reason. It rotates. So no matter what position the hood is in when you mount it, you can rotate to suit later. Rotate, swivel, raise or lower. The thing knows how to dance.

But you have to align the housing to the connector so the housing lock will align with its connector hole when you rotate the housing a quarter turn to its locked position. There's a brass knob on the inside of the connector to help you prevent the connector from rotating as you turn the housing to the locked position.

Although the documents show the connection being made with the bulb in the housing, do it without the bulb.

All that's left is to screw in the bulb and find a three-prong socket for the nine-foot power cord (with a switch at the three-foot point).

It's wise, incidentally, to avoid handling the bulb with your bare fingers. Use a handkerchief or napkin to avoid getting oil on the surface of the bulb. And let it cool before you take it apart.

In actual use, we can tear down this setup and get it up within five minutes. And making adjustments is as fast as thinking about them.

Photoflex offers a cover to protect the lamp when it's mounted to the head, so you don't have to wait until the bulb cools off to take it apart. And they plan to introduce a bag to carry the whole kit, including a compartment for the bulb.


As a hot light rather than a strobe, you can actually see what shadows you're creating and soften, lighten, offset them, whatever you like. Before you take the shot. We liked composing our shadows this way. Very much.

And since there's no strobe to sync, nothing has to attach to your camera. So there's no trigger voltages to fry your digicam or proprietary sync cords to buy. You simply set up, turn on the light and shoot when you want. Light(s), camera, action, as someone once said rather loudly.

Hot lights got their name because they tend to burn hot enough to smell. Some subjects even wilt in their heat. But the Photoflex unit kept its cool. The soft box is compact but very well ventilated.

The 500-watt bulb can be used bare or behind the diffuser. There was no drop-off in illumination (200 Lux at 10 feet) when diffused in our product shots. A 1000-watt bulb (400 Lux at 10 feet) is also available. Both 3200-degree Kelvin lamps have a life expectancy of 300 hours. We found replacements at Calumet ( for $43.99 for the 500-watt bulb and $68.99 for the 1000-watt bulb.

We left this handy unit poised over our posing table, where we do product shots, but it easily followed us wherever we needed it.

At full extension the stand bends a bit off the perpendicular, but never seemed in danger of tipping over. The legs extend well out to balance the load and prevent it from falling.


Working with just one light was more an uncomfortable thought than a handicap. Of course, two of these would be twice as good, but we managed just fine with one.

We set up small objects using the diffuser on the soft box and a reflector on the opposite side of the main light to soften the already soft shadow. That gave us quite good results (which you'll be able to see in our future product shots).

And you can kiss red-eye goodbye when you use it for portraits. You may also find your subjects smiling more frequently, unassaulted by flash, basking in the warm glow of your Photoflex. There's something friendly about incandescent light.

One situation in which one light really shines, though, is film copying. Using Nikon's slide copying adapter on a Coolpix, we simply set the white balance to incandescent and put the camera about a foot in front of the soft box covered with the diffuser to shoot some color negs. We got very evenly illuminated and well-balanced shots that were easy to convert to positive with a custom curve in Photoshop. We've had trouble using sunlight in the past (the earth moves faster than we do), so this was a welcome discovery.


Photoflex products (the PDF catalog is on the CD) are available from a number of camera shops but we recommend visiting the Photoflex site ( to find a dealer. We found one online dealer ( selling this kit for $299.95, a hefty discount from the $399 list price.

The Photoflex Basic Digital Lighting Kit is a professionally manufactured unit that includes excellent basic lighting training. It's compact enough to take anywhere, easy to set up and a snap to adjust. It makes a great first hot light but we think it would be welcomed in any studio (where there's often enough hot air). Plus, you really don't need a UPS guy. Highly recommended.

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Feature: Sony DSC-P9 -- A Hybrid Amphibian

(Excerpted from the first look posted at on the Web site.)


Sony is well known for its consumer camcorders, notebook computers and other multimedia products, blazing a long trail of innovations, including the first electronic still camera -- the Sony Mavica -- released in 1981. Over the last couple of years, they've developed a dominant position in the digital still camera market, with one of the broadest product lines in the industry. In the "subcompact" camera market, they've developed a unique line of cameras with a thin, elongated profile. This shape lets them slide easily into even small pockets, yet gives U.S.-sized fingers plenty to grab hold of. With rugged metal cases, appealing design aesthetics and strong feature sets, Sony's subcompacts have enjoyed wide popularity.

Sony's top-of-the-line subcompact digicam last year was the DSC-P5, a slim, trim three-megapixel model with a 3x zoom lens. This year, they've built upon the P5's strengths, upgrading it with a four-megapixel CCD and adding several enhancements such as Sony's MPEG HQX movie mode limited only by the size of the memory card, a sophisticated multipoint autofocus system and both microphone and speaker for recording and playback of movies with sound.

The P9's largely automatic exposure system is perfect for novice photographers who are looking for an easy-to-use point-and-shoot camera, while the 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom deliver high image quality for users wanting top-notch prints. The P9 offers a limited number of exposure adjustments, but more than enough to adapt it to most common shooting situations. And the 3x zoom lens (with Macro mode) is great for recording a wide range of subjects, from close-up portraits to scenic vistas. It even has an optional underwater casing for the diving/snorkeling enthusiast.

Final judgment on the camera will depend on my assessment of the images from a full production model, but if its photos match the "look" of those from other recent Sony models (such as the DSC-P31 and P71), it should be a real winner. I wholeheartedly recommend this camera to consumers looking for an easy to use and quality introduction to the digital age.


Sony's new DSC-P9 is a hybrid of last year's DSC-P5 and recent models such as the DSC-P51 and -71. Sony took the subcompact DSC-P5, upgraded its CCD chip to a full four megapixels for tack-sharp enlargements and added several new features to enhance movie recording and focus performance. The resulting camera has enough flexibility to satisfy even serious amateur photographers looking for a second "take anywhere" camera, while keeping camera operation simple and uncomplicated enough for even the greenest novice. Its best feature though, is that it's so small and lightweight, there's really no excuse not to bring it along (just in case you come across one of those unexpected photo opps, when you used to wish you had a camera). It more than passes the "shirt pocket" test and would even fit in a rather small handbag. If that's not enough, the P9 should easily fit into the new, updated Marine Pack, an optional underwater housing that lets you take the P9 diving as deep as 100 feet.

The P9's compact shape isn't all the camera has to offer though. As mentioned above, the P9 features a high-quality 4.0-megapixel CCD and an all-glass, 3x zoom lens that delivers sharp, clear pictures. Use it at wide-angle for outdoor scenes, architecture or small group pictures or switch to telephoto for close-up portraits, sports photography or to zoom in on your prized blooms. Don't overlook the Macro (close-up) mode, which can focus on objects as close as four inches. Sony has also included their excellent 2x Precision Digital Zoom feature, which increases the overall magnification to 6x (enough to get a close-up view of timid wildlife) with less image degradation than I typically see in digital zooms. In my testing, the P9's lens didn't have quite the crispness of some of Sony's larger models, but was sharper than I'm accustomed to seeing in ultra-compact digicams.

Exposure control on the P9 is largely automatic, a Mode dial on top of the camera offering Scene, Automatic and Movie exposure modes. Within Scene mode, you can choose between Twilight, Twilight Portrait and Landscape modes, depending on the type of subject you're shooting. Although you can't choose the camera's aperture or shutter speed settings directly, you do have access to a few exposure options, including color balance, image sharpness, metering options, ISO and light/dark adjustments. (While you don't get to control them directly, I really like the fact that the P9 optionally displays the shutter speed and aperture it's selected on the LCD display screen. Even if you don't get to adjust these parameters, knowing what they are can help you predict the type of photo the camera will capture.) There's also a wide range of recording options.

One handy feature is that you can set the camera to create two files from each exposure -- a normal one and a second low-resolution one for emailing to friends. You can record movies with sound, pictures with sound (for adding voice memos to your still pictures), clip-motion animation (a sort of stop-frame animation), multi-burst shots which play back as a slow-motion animation on the camera (but appear as a single large file with 16 sub-images in it when viewed on a computer), black-and-white or sepia-tone pictures, negative art and solarized images. On top of that, the P9 comes with a software CD loaded with Pixela ImageMixer 1.0, for downloading images and performing minor touchup operations.

Images are stored on Sony's Memory Stick media (a 16-MB stick is included, higher capacity cards are available) and can be downloaded via a USB connection to a PC or Macintosh computer. An AV cable is also provided for viewing images or slide shows on your TV. The P9 is powered by a Sony InfoLITHIUM battery pack (NP-FC10 model) and comes complete with an AC adapter and battery charger. I like the InfoLITHIUM batteries because they communicate with the camera to tell you how much running time is left on the battery pack, but I always (strongly) recommend buying a second battery and keeping it charged and ready to go, especially when the AC adapter isn't close at hand. The P9 is pretty dependent on its LCD display (a large power drain) and you can't pick up extra batteries at the corner drug store. Most ultra-compact digicams suffer somewhat from short battery life, but the DSC-P9 doesn't do too badly in this regard, with a worst-case run time of 69 minutes per charge or 120 minutes with the LCD off. In playback mode, the camera will run for 130 minutes continuously.


Beginning through intermediate users will be right at home with the P9, advanced users may buy it for its excellent portability.

Although the P9 is technically a high-end point-and-shoot, it has a lot of creative options and enough image adjustments to handle a wide variety of shooting situations. So while it's designed for users who don't want to make a lot of complicated exposure decisions, I'd expect advanced amateurs and business users to appreciate it, if only for its quality, portability and varied shooting options.

The availability of the Marine Pack underwater housing also gives the camera amphibious appeal for casual underwater use. (While the Sony Marine Packs are well-constructed for consumer use, visitors to our site who are professional and serious amateur divers have pointed out that they really can't compare with professional underwater housings. Which of course cost many times the price of the Sony units.)


The Sony DSC-P9 is compact, stylish and ready to go anywhere. Its streamlined silvery metal body is only an inch longer than a typical business card and nearly the same height, top to bottom. Measuring just 4.5x2.0x1.4 inches and weighing only 7.5 ounces with the battery and memory card installed, the P9 fits easily into even small pockets or purses. When not in use, the telescoping zoom lens retracts neatly inside the body and a small metal leaf shutter automatically closes over the lens to protect it. Outfitted with the accompanying wrist strap, it's quick on the draw and easy to hold onto.

Despite its small size, the P9's elongated shape provides plenty of room to extend two average-size fingers comfortably across the front and top of the camera, without blocking the lens or any camera controls. By making the camera thinner but longer, Sony kept the P9 very compact and avoided the lack of finger space that plagues many ultra-small digicams. The 3x, 8-24mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 39-117mm zoom on a 35mm camera), dominates the right side of the front of panel, with a small orange lamp just above and to the right of it, to help with focusing in low-light conditions. (The lamp also blinks when the self-timer is in use, to let you know when the camera is about to snap the picture.) A slightly larger window for the optical viewfinder comes next, followed by the built-in electronic flash. A large, raised vertical ridge on the right side serves as a finger grip on the front. At the bottom of the front panel, just to the left of the lens, is a small microphone.


Operating the P9 is very straightforward, as the camera is under automatic exposure control at all times. The Mode dial on top of the camera controls the main operating modes, with options for Scene, Record, Playback, Movie and Setup. In all image capture modes, the P9 provides an on-screen LCD menu (activated by the Menu button), with a variety of options for adjusting image quality or adding special effects. The four points of the Four-Way Arrow pad are used to scroll through menu options, while the center of the pad is used as the OK button to confirm selections.

The four arrow buttons also serve as external controls when the camera's menus are turned off or they can be used to scroll through captured images in Playback mode. Starting with the Up arrow and going clockwise, the functions they control include Flash, Macro, Self-Timer and Quick Review modes. The Zoom control in the top right corner of the back panel adjusts both optical and digital zoom (when activated through the Setup menu).

Overall, I was impressed by Sony's judicious use of space, especially with the large number of external controls provided and the relatively short learning curve the P9's user interface entails. Along with Sony's other recent cameras, the P9 has one of the cleanest user interfaces I've seen and will present few challenges to even the most novice user.


Because of the P9's early prototype status, my comments here are limited to viewfinder accuracy, image resolution and macro performance.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The P9's optical viewfinder proved to be a little tight, showing only 77 percent of the final image area at wide-angle and about 81 percent at telephoto. This is quite a bit less image area than I like to see displayed in an optical viewfinder. You'll need to learn to compensate for how much of the final image area isn't shown in the optical viewfinder. The LCD monitor fared quite a bit better, though it managed to be slightly loose at the telephoto setting. At wide-angle, the LCD monitor showed approximately 97 percent of the final image area. At telephoto, the bottom measurement line I use was cut off too much for me to measure the actual frame accuracy, but overall accuracy appeared to be close to 97 percent. (You'll need to add some extra space at the bottom of the frame for telephoto shots.)

Distortion: The P9's lens showed fairly high distortion, especially at the wide-angle setting, where I measured an approximate 0.91 percent barrel distortion. (This is unfortunately fairly common with subcompact digicams -- tight quarters apparently lead to some necessary compromises in lens distortion.) Some barrel distortion was also present at the telephoto lens setting, though I only measured about two pixels' worth. Chromatic aberration was moderately high, but at least some of what I saw appeared to be caused by an improperly seated CCD chip, a common prototype problem.

Resolution: The P9's 4.0-megapixel CCD delivered pretty high resolution, though I started seeing artifacts in the target lines as low as 600 lines per picture height (vertically and horizontally). I noticed strong detail as far as 1,150 lines per picture height, with extinction of detail occurring around 1,300 lines.

Close-ups: Macro performance was about average, with a 3.97x2.98 inch minimum shooting area. Color, detail and resolution were all good, but the flash had trouble throttling down when working up close (a common problem). Barrel distortion was quite high in macro close-ups, due to the full wide-angle lens zoom setting required for macro shots.


The Sony DSC-P9 is an excellent ultra-compact point & shoot digicam. Like the DSC-P5 model before it, the P9's body is slightly longer than the average ultra-compact and thus a better fit for American-sized hands. At the same time though, its very thin profile suits just about any pocket and even very small handbags. I can't comment on image quality yet, not having seen a production-level model, but the recent batch of Sony digicams I've tested bode well for the P9. Overall, the DSC-P9 looks like an ideal "take anywhere" camera for people not willing to sacrifice quality for camera size.

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A Message from the Publisher

Last week, we published a reader letter from Tim Barnett, thanking us for coverage of his new Web service for professional photographers. As a thank-you, we were happy to receive it, but Tim went on to express (and we went on to publish) his frustration at not being covered in Phil Askey's newsletter or on his site ( In the process Tim called into question the objectivity of Phil's reporting.

Frankly, the issue of how a publication raises money is immaterial. What does matter is the quality of its content and whether it presents material factually and without bias. I personally have always been impressed with the quality and objectivity of Phil's work. His reviews are every bit as factually based as our own, their very content refuting any claims of bias. Apart from that, Phil has specifically and categorically told me that the charges leveled by Tim have no basis in fact and I believe him.

Newsletter Editor Mike Pasini's decision to publish Tim's letter was based on his respect for the right of our readers to reflect on their experience and candidly express themselves, a long and valued tradition in the press.

Imaging Resource is a very different organization than your typical daily newspaper though. We're very small and what goes out in the newsletter reflects on us personally, whether it's written by us or published as a reader letter. (Since we choose which letters get published.) Invective between third parties or slurs against others' reputations are nothing I want us to be associated with. To that end, we have changed the Letters to the Editor policy to clearly exclude such material in the future.

As the Publisher of IR, the buck ultimately stops with me. It was an oversight on my part that led to Tim's letter being published in the form that it was, an error I sincerely regret. I'd like to publicly apologize to Phil for any part we played in promulgating a false view of his work and hope this note will erase any such misperception in our readers' minds.

-- Dave Etchells

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New on the Site

At you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Beginners Flash: Under Construction

It's hard not to fall in love with a digicam. Sure, it has more features than you'll ever use, but it's fun taking pictures with it!

Somehow, though it's just as hard not to feel betrayed. Not by the digicam, so much, as the computer. Vastly complex things. Fragile things. Annoying things. Just getting those pictures out of the camera can ruin all the fun.

You probably think we know how to do this stuff without blinking. In our sleep, in fact. But the other day, we were starting from scratch ourselves (it happens a lot). The funny thing is that everything went so well, we thought we were dreaming.

We took a little stroll over the hill through the Presidio ( where we thought we'd take a picture or two of a favorite little walk known as Lovers' Lane. It was used long ago by the Spanish soldiers as the most direct route to the girls at the Mission. And the quickest way back to the barracks.

Along the way, we ran across George Lucas' development, the Letterman Digital Arts Center. We amused ourselves framing the Golden Gate bridge and Palace of Fine Arts against the construction at the new site.

But then what?

Well, here's the fairy tale. We came home and plugged our Average digicam into a PowerBook G4 running OS X that Apple had let us borrow for a few weeks. iPhoto popped up just after we got the cable connected, told us how many shots were in the Average and showed us a little thumbnail of the first one.

We clicked the Import button to copy them and one by one they showed up on the screen with all the other photos we've been collecting. We clicked on the Last Import icon to see just the new ones, made a new album called Lovers' Lane and just dragged all the new shots to the new album.

The Average doesn't know horizontal from vertical, so we selected all the shots that were leaning the wrong way and clicked one button to straighten them up. We often avoid portrait shots so we won't have to rotate them later. Well, now we can get over that bad little habit.

We pressed another button to see a slide show of the images. That's all, just a button. With music. Nice slide show but we weren't too happy with the images. We put the whole thing out of our mind like a bad date.

A few weeks later Adobe drops off Photoshop 7 and we goof around with it like we need to embarrass ourselves further. But somehow it's easier than it has been. We set up iPhoto's preferences to use Photoshop 7 when we double click an image.

And we fix a few of those Lovers' Lane shots. In just a few seconds. Color correction, crop, retouch a shadow out of the corner where the sky should be. No prizes for these things but they're better.

Now what?

No, we didn't want to print them. We didn't want to upload them to some share site, either. We just wanted to have our slide show and share it, too.

So we clicked iPhoto's Share button and saw a list of options. HomePage struck us because Cousin Steve had just sent us the URL of his homepage showing the doves that have nested on his deck the last three years. We gave HomePage a try.

We goofed around a bit then ended up picking just a few of our shots, dragging them around to rearrange them (it's harder to play Solitaire even if you cheat) and clicking the HomePage button.

A nice sample Web page came up with a title, a little paragraph of explanatory text and the pictures we'd selected, each with a caption. All the text was editable. Just click and type. We titled the page "Under Construction" and captioned each image. Along the bottom of the page was a set of five frames. You just click one to frame the thumbnails. We clicked each one of them like we were trying on shoes to see which fit.

When we liked what we had, we clicked the Publish button and off they went to our iDisk Web site (for which we'd previously signed up).

We woke up our browser and went to our new page. Whoopie! There it was, exactly as we'd seen it. When we clicked a picture, we got a larger version. Not a ridiculously larger version, just big enough to fill the screen with a little navigational aid at the bottom to go to the next image. Click by click we gave ourselves a Web slide show without any nonsense.

We were so happy about it that we emailed Joyce, our better half (or so), with the URL. And she got a laugh out of it, too, even though she was using Windows 2000.

Thinking of all the things we didn't do (when did they get resized? what folder were they in? how did we connect to the Web site?) and how we'd done all this without any instruction on an operating system we know nothing about with an old camera, we became a little lightheaded, as if we'd fallen in love again.

Isn't this the way it's supposed to be?

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about 'batteries and power solutions' at[email protected]@.ee86c1d

Compare Fuji camera prices at[email protected]@.ee860f9

Robert asks for feedback about the Minolta Scan Elite II at[email protected]@.ee8aedc

Sharon asks about color problems with the Epson 870 at[email protected]@.ee8b18d

Visit the Nikon Folder at[email protected]@.ee6f781

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Just for Fun: Presenting the Missing Oscar (2002)

Members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences (namely, you) have made your nominations for this year's award of the Missing Oscar. That's the one never returned to that other Academy and which we have appropriated for our own amusement.

This year it honors the Image Editing Shareware most admired by our members.


Without further ado, the unedited nominees were:

OK, enough free advertising. Let's turn someone into an ersatz winner.

Despite a terrific offer from a prominent accounting firm to count the ballots, we prefer to count our own hands (it's counting fingers that can get dicey). So a show of hands, please.... Thank you.

[a hush draws over the crowd]

And the winner is ... ACDSee! Congratulations!

[tears, applause]

Now where did we put that Oscar? Still missing?

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at [email protected]. You can read our Letters policy at in the FAQ.

RE: Those Funny Numbers

Last Friday, I sat down to send a contribution, the first time I have ever used my credit card on the Internet. I buzzed along in good shape and near the end I filled in two boxes -- and then everything went haywire.

What in the world is that box on the left with xxxx and numbers in it and the blank one on right? If you don't get my contribution, please send me a mailing address and I'll send it by mail.

I cannot express the enjoyment I get out of the magazine. I print out each one to bookmark my place when I go to sleep. Why? Because this is the only thing I never doze while reading.

I bought the Sony FD7 and now have over 900 floppy disks full of wild life and sunsets. I declared I would never need another camera -- until I read issue 4. The article on the Olympus was too convincing. I needed that camera with its 10x lens. So yesterday I walked into a supplier and with two rebates and walked out with the camera for $420.

This world needs more people like yourselves who are eager to share your knowledge with others.

-- Donald Dunn

(Thanks for the kind words, Donald. And for persisting in your effort to support us through PayPal ( We sat on hold for two days to find out those numbers on the back of the card are a security feature called a "card verification number." The last three numbers especially are now more frequently being required for online sales for just that reason. My source told me they are activated when the card itself is activated. -- Editor)

RE: Your Choice

I am planning to do some serious digging in the National Archives in Washington, DC. But I'm poorly equipped to record anything. Mostly I'm going for pictures, pages from logbooks, that kind of stuff from the Battle of Midway era, in which I was involved quite heavily.

A scanner and storage facility are what I would be looking for. For about five hundred pages and three hundred mostly black and white 8x10 SWG photos. With a 2K budget, what would you choose? And, at this age, 78, I'd probably go 3K if the gear worked.

And keep up the outstanding info. I don't give out Navy "4.0's" often. but your group gets one and deserves it, thanks!

-- Otis Kight

(Thanks for the 4.0, Otis! Beats an Oscar any day.... We kicked this around a bit with Dave. Let's start with him. -- Editor)
(I'd vote for a camera with good macro capability. A Nikon 5000 would do the trick nicely, but you probably don't need its ultra-macro. Another excellent choice would be the Canon G2, which is four megapixels instead of five, but ultra-sharp. Shoot with the lens set to a medium focal length, to minimize barrel/pincushion distortion. I imagine the biggest challenge will be the lighting and camera mount. For camera support, a Bogen (aka Manfrotto) 3401B tripod would be a good choice. The center column can be inverted or mounted sideways. The Bogen 3025 tripod head is a little funky in how it adjusts, but I think it would work well for that sort of thing.... There's a lot of deviltry in the details with this sort of thing, but the above might be a good start. -- Dave)
(To which we'll add a couple of thoughts.... The National Archives permits photocopying on site (as long as the document's condition doesn't prohibit it) so you can scan the photocopies at your convenience later. If your documents are on microfilm, there's a self-service microfilm room. I would expect it to include printing facilities, but don't know.... The camera will be great for capturing anything you'd otherwise have to leave behind, but I imagine (like most museums) flash won't be permitted. So photograph with available light. Practice at home before you go. Use a small mirror to align the camera squarely to the page. When you can see the camera reflected in the viewfinder, you're there.... A manual setting that lets you fix shutter speed at 1/60 second will prevent blurry images. And being able to increase sensitivity to ISO 400 will help, too. Macro capability is important, but you don't need much macro to copy a sheet of paper. Just be aware that you may have to shoot in macro mode. Hope that helps! -- Editor)

RE: Battery Advice

Just a quick follow-up to Dave White's email about rechargeable Pure Energy batteries sold here in the UK.

These are Canadian manufactured but there is a UK distributor. I have tried them in several applications and cannot recommend them. They do not appear to last the claimed number of charge/discharge cycles and several have leaked badly. These were replaced promptly by the UK distributor so I suspect this is a known problem.

The main attraction of these cells is the terminal voltage of 1.5V. Camera manufacturers appear to set the "low battery voltage" indication at about 1V per cell and I find that however good 1.2V rechargeable cells are, the "Low Battery" indication appears on my Kodak DC 280 after only a short period of use. Although the cells can continue to be used after this appears, you have no idea of the remaining capacity.

-- Bob Wellbeloved

(Thanks for the feedback, Bob! -- Editor)

RE: Trigger Voltage Revisited

A few issues back you were pondering ways to get around the high voltages present in the trigger circuits of old flashes. I stumbled across this page which shows how to make an optoisolator circuit very inexpensively:

-- Paul

(Well, we understood the $4 part (for parts) but sure wish they'd included a picture of the thing, it's exactly the ticket. Thanks, Paul! -- Editor)

RE: Projecting Again?

I have to say as a psychologist who wishes I could be full time artist-photographer that this newsletter is fantastic! Dr. Phil can consult on my inpatient unit anytime he likes.

-- Jonathan Simmons

(LOL! Letters from lawyers we expected, but not from psychologists <g>. Thanks for validating our wacky approach! -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Suffering Under a Great Injustice displays all 209 print and 242 negatives of Ansel Adams' images of Japanese-Americans interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II. The online exhibit at Library of Congress ( provides Adams students with side-by-side comparisons of his negatives with his final crop and prints in this unusual series. Adams donated the collection to the Library in 1965, observing, "All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document and I trust it can be put to good use."

The cost of LCD displays and RAM chips have risen recently 25 percent on average, forcing price increases on some products. Apple just this week raised iMac prices $100 across the board.

Ofoto ( is offering free shipping on orders over $25 when you use the code "SPRING25" through March 31.

Beta version 1.1.2 of YarcPlus, which converts Canon RAW images into TIFFs and JPEGS, has been posted at with numerous enhancements. The message board is now functioning as well.

Sapphire Innovations ( has released a sampler with 12 plug-ins for Photoshop. The sampler features blur/smeary effects, grains and random noise effects, embossing, negatives, greyscale and threshold effects and more for $11. has launched its latest digital photography gallery, Stealing the Neighbors' Flowers, photographer Charlie Morey's images taken within walking distance of his Studio City, Calif. home (

Kaidan ( announced they will begin shipping the 360 One VR shortly. The 360 One VR consists of a patented 100-degree vertical field of view optical mount and the PhotoWarp software from EyeSee360. Kaidan will also be shipping the Coolpix 990/995 mounting kit, the first of the required camera-specific mounting kits for the 360 One VR system.

SMaL Camera Technologies ( announced that FujiFilm will market the SMaL UltraPocket in Japan. The UltraPocket is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's thinnest camera.

Hamrick Software ( has released VueScan 7.5.11.

Wacom ( has updated its Intuos2 drivers.

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Mike Pasini, Editor
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Dave Etchells, Publisher
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