Volume 4, Number 7 5 April 2002

Copyright 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 68th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We undergo a wireless transformation, take a look at Canon's newest affordables, test a new search engine and discuss CD-R formats. And if you're springing forward, don't forget to set your digicam clock.


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 44,500 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].

Feature: Broadband Wireless for Photographers

We recently read about Sister "Web" Judith Zoebelein who put together the Vatican Web site ( She christened three machines named Michael (to handle viruses), Gabriel (to handle email) and Raphael (to handle content). Funny. But when we looked around us at Moe, Larry, Curly and the occasional Shemp (the laptop), we stopped chuckling.

What we had here was a failure to communicate.

Image files are large. Moving them from the camera to your computer to the Internet can take time. Lots of time. Add online software updates and the typical setup of a computer, modem and printer begins to resemble Jack Benny's violin. It works but you can't play long.

Here at the bunker we use a 12-port Ethernet hub servicing four computers (running a variety of operating systems) with a life support line for a fifth and two printers. All are cable-connected with category 5 wire (supporting 10/100T-Base Ethernet, the fast old standard and the faster new one). But to get on the Internet, we've been using modems.

Until we decided to leap into broadband -- wirelessly.


Bringing a faster connection to the Internet into our bunker wasn't an agonizing choice between cable or DSL. We didn't want to drill any holes through the steel-reinforced 12-foot thick concrete walls here. So cable was out.

DSL just requires the addition of a modem-like device and a filter on every phone jack on the DSL line. Most ISPs provide that stuff free.

Among the DSL carriers we had some options:

  1. The guys everybody loves who charge the most and are 70 miles away

  2. The regional phone company everybody hates that has been brought before the public utilities commission for systematically incorrect DSL billing

  3. The national Internet Service Provider that doesn't really care very much if we ever get connected but tosses in a lot of amenities (dial-up, server space, etc.)

We visited DSL Reports ( before ordering. There we discovered Number 3 did not rely on the local phone company's equipment but had Covad install and maintain their own switches -- and their throughput consistently outperformed the phone company. DSL Reports also lets you run tests, we noted, to find out what upload and download speeds you're really getting.

We went with Number 3 because we needed a nationwide dial-up account (we have to get out of Dodge frequently), a little server space and a price we could live with. Which we got. But only after five weeks of waiting for the equipment to ship across the country (we suspect they were out of DSL modems for a while).

But in the meantime we did something we're very glad we did. We put in a wireless router. The router made it possible to (1) share the Internet connection among the systems connected to our Ethernet hub and (2) extend that to dozens of non-wired laptops that come and go (up to 253 total users). Talk about a block party.


Let's start, though, with Ethernet networking.

An Ethernet network is fast (10 megabits/second standard with 100-Mbs commonly available these days).

To get that speed, you need an Ethernet port on your computer (either built-in as it is on most recent computers or via a PCI card at $30-50). And you need an Ethernet hub ($50-150, depending on how many devices you want to plug into it). The hub itself is just a box of Ethernet jacks with status LEDs. You cable every device to the hub with an RJ-45 cable (a fat, 8-wire telephone-like plug) from the device's Ethernet port to the hub. The hub negotiates the traffic invisibly.

This is really nice in actual practice. Just plug in a new device to instantly access everything plugged into the hub. That means printers, other computers -- and even the Internet if one of your Ethernet devices is a router.


Using a phone line, you dial up your ISP and hog the line. No other computer in the house can share the connection.

A router acts like a computer with good manners.

It connects your network to your ISP (either by dial-up with a built-in modem or with a broadband modem connected to its Wide Area Network port) and maintains the connection. Some even provide enough Ethernet ports to function as hubs themselves. If you don't have a hub, look for a router that can be your hub, too.

Computers on your network ask for and receive an identity (a machine address, called an Internet Protocol number that looks like from the router (which has one itself). All you have to do is tell the computer to connect to the router using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (which assigns addresses on demand). Whenever you turn on the computer, it gets an IP address from the router.

Then, when any computer on your network accesses the Internet (by running a mail program or a Web browser, for example), the request goes to the router, which handles the transaction. It forwards the request, receives the reply and routes it back to the box that asked in the first place. Automatically.

You can access the router directly (to configure it for your ISP or set security options). Some routers require a custom program (like Apple's AirPort Administration Utility). Others can be configured from a browser on any connected computer (just enter the IP address of the router).


When you use a dial-up connection, your ISP assigns a temporary IP address to your computer. Hang up and the address is released.

This provides a degree of both anonymity and security. With a dial-up account, you may (but likely won't) be plagued by attempts to access your computer. By the time the address circulates, it's no longer in use.

But shortly after going online all the time with a broadband account, you will be hit with constant access requests.

This can be hard to believe. But you can see for yourself by downloading a software firewall for your operating system and running it for the duration of its trial period. You'll be astonished at the number of access attempts it thwarts.

You have to prevent that from happening for the health of the Internet.

Routers often include a hardware firewall that automatically takes care of the problem. But if you aren't using one, buy that software firewall.

Please. Don't leave the door unlocked.


By the end of the year, an estimated 10 million wireless computers will be able to make connections at Starbucks and airports (even if their owners can't) just by waking from sleep and selecting the available Wi-Fi network. Public wireless is catching on.

Apple brought networking home in the last century with AppleTalk and phone wiring (not to mention File Sharing). And three years ago, Apple introduced the AirPort Base Station for wireless networking at Ethernet speed. No longer did you have to run wire all over the house or drill holes in your walls.

You just plug in the AirPort to an outlet, connect its Ethernet port to your Ethernet hub (or Ethernet port on your Mac) and plug your broadband modem into the AirPort's Wide Area Network port.

A handful of companies are now giving Apple a little competition with different feature sets and lower prices. Among them are Asante, Linksys and D-Link. The AirPort wireless protocol is pure 802.11b, so you don't need an AirPort to enjoy wireless. But if you are using Macs, make sure the router you buy is Mac-compatible.

802.11b broadcasts over a 2.4 gigahertz frequency band up to 168 feet supporting 10-Mb transmissions (as fast as 10BaseT Ethernet). In real buildings count on a strong signal for about 50 feet.

But feature sets vary tremendously. Here are a few of the options:

Software varies, too. Your unit might have:

We've used Asante networking products for years. They make the effort to be Apple compatible using flash-upgradable hardware and have a terrific Web site ( We bought their wireless router (which you can get without the wireless card if you want a router now and wireless later) for under $200.

We also tried the new (snow) Apple AirPort ($300). Its range was roughly the equivalent of the Asante product in actual use. It not only looks cool, but the ice blue LEDs make a great night light. It supports fewer users (50) and has fewer high speed LAN ports but includes a modem.

All of these devices include a PCMCIA wireless card (whether you can see it or not). Having an accessible card can make upgrades easy -- but it also makes theft easy.

While there are 2.4-GHz antennas, hubs don't always provide jacks for them. Antennas change the gain of the signal, narrowing its sensitivity to extend its reach (the higher the gain, the narrower). So you have to aim the antenna.

They aren't cheap (costing more than the hubs themselves) but some enterprising souls have made them for peanuts out of Pringles tubes and tin cans (

Fortunately, they really aren't necessary. And with a little luck, you'll be able to find a location for your wireless router that maximizes signal strength. Here are a few tips:


The first step to setting up, oddly, is not to set up.

The actual device that will be connecting to the ISP is the router, not one or another computer on your network. But until you connect with a computer, you won't know how to set up the router.

So cable a single computer to your broadband modem and go through the hoops to connect to your ISP. Make a note of the TCP/IP control panel settings for your ISP. These vary with each operating system but your router documentation will spell it out for you.

Before closing the control panel, set it to use DHCP or Obtain IP Address Automatically, which is the same thing.

Shut everything down, power everything off.

Then connect all the hardware. Run an Ethernet cable from your broadband modem to the WAN port of the router. Run Ethernet cables from your computers to either the router's LAN ports or to your Ethernet hub (which itself should be cabled using the uplink port to a router LAN port). Connect any printer or telephone line cables (for the internal modem) that your router supports.

Then turn on the power to everything.

You're not quite done, though. You still have to configure your router. That means transferring the settings you recorded from your computer into the router itself.


One step back, two steps forward and you're flying. Of course, you have to flap your wings now, not bicycle pedal. Don't log on using PPP (or worry about bad connections), just open you browser or your email client and click a link. Don't hang up, just quit the application. It's a weird feeling, no?

To celebrate, we grabbed a wireless laptop, went into the kitchen and visited to see a few cool movies.

But the convenience and speed quickly lead to more productive pursuits. Running a browser on one computer and checking for email on another, for example. Effortlessly doing those 30-MB system updates over the Internet (no CD ordering and wait, no hour-long downloads for a browser update, no overnighters). Moving images effortlessly from machine to machine and printing them faster. Immunity from those 10-minute downloads of full-resolution images in our email.

Our biggest thrill, though, has been the ease of transmitting full resolution images to online photofinishers and Web sharing sites. Suddenly it's easy to show what we've been shooting.

Total cost? Just $199 for the wireless router and a recurring cost of about $50 a month for DSL. We can't take DSL with us on the road, but our ISP gives us nationwide phone-in. In case we get nostalgic.

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Feature: Canon PowerShot A40 -- Entry-Level But Not Low-End

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


Canon doesn't play in the very low end of the consumer market, having decided instead to focus on providing very capable, feature-rich products even in their entry level models.

The A40 is one such model, a nice little two-megapixel camera that's easy to use, has a nice set of features and takes great pictures. You'll find cheaper models on the market, but it's hard to find any at the same price that take better photos.

Although its cousin, the 1.2-megapixel resolution A30, marks the low end of their line, it's also a very full-functioned camera. It's almost identical to the A40, lacking only audio recording with movies. This would be a great camera for someone who rarely prints photos larger than 5x7 inches, but who doesn't want to compromise on image quality just because they're interested in a camera with more modest resolution.


The A40 and the A30 are a continuation of the A20 and A10 introduced in 2001. Nearly identical in appearance to the earlier designs, PowerShot A40 offers the same great compact body with a few minor design changes and feature enhancements. The all-plastic body is stylishly accented in silver and silver-gray, giving the A40 a more serious look than the playful A30 model. The A40 probably is small enough for larger coat pockets and purses and the wrist strap adds a feeling of security. Like many Canon digicams, it features a shutter-like lens cover and a retracting lens. With no lens cap, the A40 is quick on the draw. You just have to wait a couple of seconds for the lens to extend before you can shoot. The A40's 2.0-megapixel CCD produces good quality images, suitable for printing as large as 8x10 inches. You can also print snapshot-size images of 4x6 and 5x7 inches or use its lowest resolution photos for email.

With its 5.4-16.2mm lens, the A40 offers a 3x optical zoom range equivalent to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera. Maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 at full wide angle to f4.8 at full telephoto and can be manually adjusted or left under automatic control. It uses Canon's Artificial Intelligence Auto Focus system, which focuses on a three-point area in the center of the frame. Whatever portion of the subject is closest to the camera and aligned with one of the AF points determines overall focus. You can also choose to base focus only on the center of the frame. Three fixed-focus modes set focus for specific distance ranges, including Macro (as close as 16 centimeters), Snapshot (from 4.9 to 8.2 feet) and Infinity modes. An AF Assist light on the front panel helps the camera focus in dark conditions, but can be deactivated. In addition to the optical zoom lens, there's a 2.5x digital zoom (which simply enlarges the center pixels of the image).

The A40 has both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch LCD monitor for composing images. The optical viewfinder is rather tight so use the LCD monitor for precise framing. The LCD display includes detailed exposure information, including shutter speed and aperture settings in Manual shooting mode.

The A40 offers a variety of exposure options, including full manual exposure. A Mode dial on the camera's back panel accesses Auto, Program AE, Manual, Stitch-Assist and Movie capture modes, as well as Playback mode. The Auto exposure mode is perfect for snapshots, family events and vacation photos. Under Program AE mode, the camera maintains control over shutter speed and aperture, but lets you decide about color balance, exposure compensation, metering, etc.

It's quite unusual to find a manual exposure option on an entry-level camera, but I highly approve its inclusion. There are times when an auto exposure system just can't cut it -- in very low light or when you want a particular exposure effect. In such situations, there's no substitute for manual exposure.

In Manual mode, you can set the shutter speed and aperture settings independently, although there's only two options for the aperture (f2.8 and f8.0). Stitch-Assist is the A40's panorama shooting mode, capturing up to 26 images to be "stitched" together on the computer with Canon's software. Panoramas can be vertically or horizontally oriented or pieced together as a larger square. In Movie mode, the A40 captures moving images with sound at 320x240 or 160x120 pixels, for a maximum of 30 seconds (depending on resolution and available memory card space).

Canon makes good use of the A40's external camera controls, giving individual buttons multiple functions. Some settings still require delving into the menu system, but the majority of camera operations rely on the external controls.

Exposure Compensation, White Balance, aperture and shutter speed (Manual mode only), Effects, flash mode, drive mode and fixed-focus mode options are all accessed externally, while the Record menu offers image size, quality, ISO, Metering, AF mode and more. The White Balance has settings for Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Fluorescent H (for daylight fluorescent lighting). Exposure Compensation lightens or darkens overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure values in one-third-step increments. An ISO adjustment offers 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO equivalents, as well as an Auto setting. A Spot Metering option bases the exposure on the center of the subject, essential for dealing with backlit subjects. The A40's flash operates in either Auto, Red-Eye Reduction Auto, Forced, Suppressed, Red-Eye Reduction Forced or Slow Synchro modes.

A creative and fun Effects menu lets you play around with image color, offering Vivid and Neutral color settings, as well as Sepia and Black and White options. A Low Sharpening option turns off the in-camera image sharpening, good for extensive image modifications and cloning on the computer.

Continuous Shooting mode works like a motor drive on a 35mm camera, capturing a rapid burst of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down (or until the memory card fills up). Actual frame rates vary depending on the image size and quality selected, but range from about 1.2 to 1.5 frames per second. The A40 also features a 10-second self-timer. You can also set the delay interval to two seconds, great for hand-held low-light shots.

The A40 stores images on CompactFlash memory cards and comes with an 8-MB card. Buy at least a 32-MB card or better yet a 64-MB CompactFlash card for regular use.

The camera uses four AA-sized batteries. Pick up a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. The optional AC adapter is useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images and plugs straight into a jack on the camera.

The A40 features a USB jack for downloading images to a computer and comes with two software CDs, one with Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk version 8.0 and the other with ArcSoft PhotoImpression and VideoImpression [MW]. Additionally, a Video Out jack and the included video cable let you connect the camera to a television set. The A40 is Digital Print Order Format compatible, with a range of print settings available through the Playback menu.


Color: Overall, the A40 produced great, accurate color when shooting outdoors and under studio lighting, without any strong color casts from either of the white balance settings. Both the Auto and Daylight settings produced good results in most shots. The Incandescent white balance setting did an excellent job under standard incandescent household lighting, but remember to switch to the incandescent setting when shooting indoors. The auto white balance doesn't handle that type of light well at all. Indoor flash exposures showed a noticeable orange cast from the incandescent background lighting. All in all though, the A40 produced unusually appealing color.

Exposure: The A40 did a great job with exposure, capturing great midtones in the studio and in outdoor test shots. The harsh sunlight in the outdoor house shot tricked the camera into losing highlight details, though shadow detail was very good. The A40 also picked up the subtle tonal variations of the Davebox well, a difficult area for many digicams. Bottom line, the A40's exposure system worked very well, but did show a tendency to lose highlight detail in very contrasty lighting conditions.

Sharpness: Image sharpness was good for a two-megapixel camera, with crisp details throughout the frame. Optical distortion was a bit better than average at the wide-angle lens setting and chromatic aberration in the corners of the image was low. It looks like the A40 has a pretty good lens on it.

Closeups: The A40 came in a bit below average in the macro category, capturing a rather large minimum area of 6.56x4.92 inches. Color, detail and resolution were all great, however. The flash managed to light the macro area, but lost intensity in the corners of the frame.

Night Shots: The A40 did unusually well for an entry-level camera in my low light shooting tests. It captured usable images as low as 1/16 foot-candle with good color and focus at all four ISO settings. Some of the lower light level shots had slightly soft focus, but results were good overall. The camera's noise reduction system did a reasonably good job eliminating image noise, but noise levels were moderately high at the ISO 400 setting at lower light levels.

Battery Life: Battery life on the A40 is very good. In capture mode with the LCD screen turned on, it should run about 3-1/2 hours on a freshly-charged set of high-capacity NiMH AA batteries. With the LCD screen off, it can run over 20 hours straight. Playback run time should be about 5-6 hours. Really excellent.


The A40 is another in Canon's line of nicely-designed, stylish, functional cameras that take great pictures. It has a nice sharp lens and excellent color rendition, with a host of features that include full manual exposure. Novice photographers can start out in automatic mode and gradually increase the level of control they assume over their photos, while more experienced users will enjoy the freedom of the A40's manual options. Movie capture mode makes the A40 great for recording short clips of special events, while the Stitch-Assist mode lets you capture panoramic shots. Creative color adjustments add to the camera's versatility as well. The 2.0-megapixel CCD produces good image quality with enough detail to print images as large as 8x10 inches. If you're looking for a good entry-level camera with a range of options and excellent picture quality, you need look no further than the A40. Highly recommended.

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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: A New Friend for the Perplexed

We don't have to tell you the Web is a wonderful resource. After all, that's where you found us.

And from time to time we like to share our favorite ways of using this wonderful resource. Because it's easy to miss the forest for the No Parking signs. Some time ago, for example, we described our favorite ways to use Google (just visit our Archive at to find the story).

But on Monday, we were thrilled to discover a new search engine called Teoma ( making its debut on the Web.

We firmly believe you can never have enough search engines.

Teoma, which means "expert" in Gaelic, was founded in 2000 in Piscataway, N.J. by a team of scientists from Rutgers University. The Teoma development team includes Paul Gardi, vice president of search background; Rutgers professor Apostolos Gerasoulis, Ph.D., vice president of research and development; and University of California at Santa Barbara professor Tao Yang, Ph.D., chief scientist. Ask Jeeves, Inc. acquired Teoma for $4.4 million in September 2001.

What makes Teoma interesting is its approach to retrieving information.

Teoma identifies "highly authoritative Web pages, not just relevant Web pages," according to the company. To determine authority, Teoma uses "subject-specific popularity" to rank a site based on the number of same-subject pages that refer to it. That's a refinement of Google's approach, which counts references regardless of their source.

Results are what count, however. And Teoma delivers three kinds.

The first, listed under "results" (which follows "sponsored results"), is a ranking of sites much like other search engines deliver. The numbered link is followed by a brief paragraph of introductory text from the site. Some listings include a link to "more results like this."

But you can also "refine" your search into what Teoma calls "topic-specific Web communities." Teoma uses its knowledge of Web topic groups related to your search to display keywords from each group. Searching on "digital photography" would let you focus on categories like cameras, imaging, photographers and photos. And Teoma builds these dynamically, when you search.

Finally, Teoma provides "resources," a list of related Web sites created by "individual enthusiasts or experts."

Teoma indexes 200 million Web pages (Google, in comparison, indexes three billion) and plans to license its technology to other sites (as does Google).

We liked its clean interface (and didn't at all mind how highly it ranked Imaging Resource). There's a "Find this phrase" checkbox under the search field to make it clear you want to search for the whole phrase not the individual words. We also liked the way it gathered both online communities and related topics. It almost seemed to create a special interest site in "digital photography" on the fly.

Which makes it useful for exploring new subjects. We found it less useful for digging up tidbits on parts or drivers. When you want to target something that specific, nothing beats Google.

But we've added Teoma to our arsenal of Web tools because, being frequently perplexed, we need all the friends we can get.

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Advanced Mode: Formatting CD-Rs for Image Storage

The ultimate storage medium for us is the inexpensive but versatile 650-MB CD-R which sets us back about $1 each (more or less). Dave buys them even cheaper. "There's really no reason to spend more than about $0.30/disc for CD-Rs these days -- and often lower if you're patient," he winked.

After shooting an event, we like to prune our images, retouch the red-eye (using the Paint brush tool, set to desaturate and zapping each greatly enlarged eye) and organize them (into a folder called Images with a folder for Mac software and another for Windows software, Big Picture and Irfanview respectively). We put that on a partition of its own and write a hybrid Mac/ISO disk that anything can mount and run.

But we also use CD-Rs to store our original images.

That's a little tricky. We don't want to burn a CD with just a few images (say 28 from today's outing) because we'd go nuts popping CDs in and out of our computer, waiting for them to spin up and display their directory. So we need a format that lets us gradually fill up those 650-MB at our leisure.

For years we relied on Adaptec's DirectCD which formats blank CDs so they can be used like a very large floppy disk. You can even use Save from any application. The price for this variable packet-writing luxury was about 100-MB of the CD, used for temporary directory space. When you filled the CD, all you have to do is close it and any system that can read UDF discs can mount your CD.

But after a system update recently, we caught DirectCD corrupting our images. Whole sections of one image were pasted into another. A little investigation on the Web revealed that our version of DirectCD was not only current, but the last that is ever likely to be released.

After considering our options, we thought we'd use our own head to find an alternative.

We don't care for Apple's approach to this problem under either OS 9 or OS X. You insert a blank CD, name it and tell the OS to prepare it for ISO 9660 (rather than MP3s, say) and a whir or two later you have a CD icon on your desktop representing the blank CD. Until you eject the CD, you can drag files to it and arrange them however you like. But you're only working in RAM. You have to burn the disk to eject it with any data on it. And that's the only session you can burn. Not at all appropriate for shoots of a few megabytes at a time.

We use Toast ( to burn our event CDs. Toast has a lot of options detailed in a complicated (if clearly written) manual. It could, we suspected, do what we wanted. But could we, we worried, figure it out?

Sure, piece of cake.

The trick is to use the ISO 9660 format (so it can be read on either platform), making sure you select CD-ROM XA as the Format in Settings so you can add files to the disc later. Set the File Naming option in Settings to allow the use of your native file naming system to handle file names that aren't compatible with the ISO file format.

Drag your source files into the Data window and take a look at the Files and Layout windows to confirm you'll get what you expect. Then write a session rather than the disc. That gives you a multi-session ISO 9660 CD you can close when you fill it, but that meanwhile remains readable as you add shoots. And it doesn't corrupt your data.

In addition, unlike some other Toast options (Mac Files & Folders), it appears as a single volume on your desktop rather than as a separate volume for each burn.

You can also get pretty fancy with this format. You aren't restricted by what you already wrote to the disc. You can ignore the existing sessions, so only the current session appears on the disc. You can also edit those sessions. You can import the directory of a previous session to delete, rename, move and reorganize anything in the old session.

If you're using a Mac under OS 9, disable the two extensions FireWire Authoring Support and USB Authoring Support or Toast may not recognize your CD writer. Make sure you have the three Toast extensions -- Toast CD Reader, Toast USB Support and Toast FireWire Support -- enabled. You can then use either the Mac's burning utility or Toast.

We think that calls for a, well, toast.

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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:

Following the Canon PowerShot G2 discussion at[email protected]@.ee866da

Compare Nikon camera prices at[email protected]@.ee860fd

Red Eye asks about U.S. versus import warranties at[email protected]@.ee8b159

Jim asks about scanning black and white negatives at[email protected]@.ee8b49f

Visit the Ricoh Folder at[email protected]@.ee6f787

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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: Photoflex Illuminated

Just thought I'd let you know the lighting kit review was great. I was able to find it for only $274.95 at B&H Photo's Web site. That's $290 delivered to my door! Can't wait to try it out.

-- Phill Botham

I thought this was a newsletter about photography. Then along comes this long, long piece on a new light kit, with intricate descriptions of nuts, bolts and assembly instructions. But no pictures :>(

-- Clarence Jones

(Dave's reviews generally appear on the site prior to the Reader's Digest version here while our stuff always appears here before getting the illustrated treatment on the site. For the illustrated Photoflex review visit -- Editor)

RE: The Way It's Supposed to Be

I was more than a little amused by the article singing the praises of Mac OS X. In fact, for the main user base of Apple computers, OS X is a joke in very poor taste.

Yes, it's innovative and clever. But it leaves core market professionals stranded because of its complete inability to support existing technologies and a cavalier lack of regard for the users who's past investment made Apple Computer what it is today (or rather was, before the introduction of X).

If you want to see how to give an OS a healthy dose of eye candy and massively increase ease of use and stability, while offering extensive hardware/software support and excellent backward compatibility check out Windows XP.

I used to be 100 percent Apple, these days I'm moving increasingly toward Microsoft, a company I'm actually philosophically inclined against! But the fact is, they are producing the real world usable OS, not Apple.

-- Chris Light

(Thanks for your thoughts, Chris. Our enthusiasm for iPhoto and OS X derives from how usable they are for a first time user (which is why we put it in the Beginners Flash column). We didn't expect a Unix OS to be easier than Windows or OS 9 to get images out of a camera and onto the Web. But it flat out is. So we recommend this setup to anyone new to digital photography. It isn't less painful, it's painless. And there is just no learning curve to import, organize, edit or share images. So you don't have to remember how. -- Editor)

I must have been asleep at the switch over the last year or so. Where can I find out more about iPhoto? Is it a consumer program? Your latest article certainly sounds like the program does a lot with minimum work.

-- Paul

(You can find out more (and download the free program) at -- but it does require (rely on and show off) Mac OS X. We first covered it in our Macworld San Francisco coverage in January, when it was introduced. -- Editor)

RE: Sony, Microsoft and Me

Any suggestions on how to get Sony to respond to tech questions other than their ridiculous automated response? I paid a lot of $$$$ for a Sony Digital Studio Vaio desktop, but it has many problems.

I cannot get the Sony DPP-SV55 digital photo printer to work with this Sony computer running XP that is supposedly designed for video and photo editing.

-- Lynn Batterman

(Resolving problems like this (which explode for every peripheral manufacturer whenever a new version of an operating system is released) can drive you crazy. We're happy to help because they're never our fault <g>. But our sources are almost always publicly available. Start at the manufacturer's Web site (where solutions would be published) and only bother with email or phone when what you find there doesn't help.... In this case we visited Sony's customer support page ( where we learned there is no XP driver for the SV55. You can't get that printer to work with XP because Sony can't either (yet). -- Editor)

RE: The National Archives

What you told Otis Kight, the Midway vet, was all great. I nearly was booted from a Smithsonian exhibit because the flash I thought I had turned off was on. I imagine that the National Archives would have the same restrictions. The cameras you recommended should do well without a flash. Sometimes in low light I have used a pocket flashlight as a helper.

Something else I would do is to try a few and put them on the computer to see how they are coming out. Before spending extensive time and filling CompactFlash cards and going home unhappy.

Thanks for another great issue and if you write Otis, please tell him thanks from here for his sacrifices.

-- Harry Kachline

(Turning off the flash can be harder than it sounds. Your camera may enable it every time you power on the camera and in the heat of battle, you may just forget to disable it. A piece of black tape over the flash can cover for you temporarily, just don't rely on it for extended periods or you may damage your flash. -- Editor)

I own a Sony Mavica 300CD and have used it for filming in low light areas at historical centers. It takes great pictures. My pictures of the microfilm are better than the prints from their machines. I get 108 images per CD so I take all the images I want and do not worry about storage. The macro works well for these types of close-ups. I then print the documents out on either my Alps 5000 or my Epson 2000P. I had a genealogist tell me the other day that I was getting better printouts than the professionals he had hired to do projects.

-- Darlene

P.S. I forgot to add I always read your newsletter top to bottom. Sometimes I even think about it in the middle of Friday night and get up to check it out.

(Thanks for the tips, Darlene! We passed them on to Otis prior to publication.... And thanks for the unsolicited proof that we don't just put people to sleep <g>! -- Editor)

RE: Inkless Wonder

I love your Web site and I love your newsletter -- my compliments for both of them. I will be sending a Paypal to "subscribe," because both are far better than any print magazine.

-- Harlan Lebo

(Thanks very much for both the kind words and your support (, Harlan! -- Editor)

RE: The Price Is Right

I am not a pro at this taking of pictures by any means. However, I always seem to get at least one idea or concept from each of your newsletters; and they are free to boot. How can I go wrong? Thanks for your newsletter.

-- Wes

(You're welcome -- and thanks for the kind words, Wes! It's great to hear that what we're trying to do is, in fact, appreciated now and then! -- Editor)

RE: The Missing Oscar

Glad to see ACDSee got the Oscar. I have been using it for the past three years. It's a great editing program for the novice who just wants to make some minor adjustments and make images a little more presentable. Now that I have an Olympus 2100UZ, I can really edit images without loosing quality. ACDSee is Number 1 in my book.

-- Bill Morden

(And their acceptance speech was tastefully short, too! -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

French magazine Elle is funding Roz (The Day) a new Afghan magazine for women. The publication follows the lead of privately-funded women's newsletters launched after the fall of the Taliban. The Hachette Group, Elle's parent company, has donated three computers and a digital camera and will pay salaries plus production costs of about $5,000 an issue. The first issue went to press with an initial run of 1,500 copies to be distributed without charge primarily in Kabul. Subsequent issues will cost 15 cents.

Canon has released ScanGear 6.2 (, beta OS X drivers for their 670U, 676U and 1240U scanners.

Charlie Morey ( has started the Digital Photography Web Ring. "If your site focuses on digital photography, you're a perfect candidate" to join the ring, Charlie writes. To learn more visit the ring (

Larry Berman ( has published an extensive interview with Neil Leifer, who has shot over 200 covers for Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine.

Pictographics ( has a couple of special offers. inCamera Professional [MW] ( provides the tools to create ICC profiles for digicams under various lighting conditions. Use the code "Shamrock" to save 20 percent.

Pictographics has also teamed up with Arrowkey to offer CD-R Diagnostic [W] for retrieving lost data from CDs for $29.95, a 40 percent discount for this limited-time offer.

Andromeda ( has released ScatterLight Lenses for $98. The new Photoshop-compatible plug-in provides digital lenses for scattering highlights in four categories: DreamOptics Lenses for glows, SoftFocus Lenses for portraiture, SoftDiffuser Lenses for mist and fog and StarLight Lenses for glints, sparks and flares. OS X versions of Andromeda's filters are scheduled for release "by the end of the second quarter," the company said.

Wacom ( has updated its Intuos2 driver for OS X.

Michael Tapes and Bruce Henderson have released beta version 1.2 of YarcPlus ( featuring an optimized viewing engine, picked white balance option, new tool bar and conversion to JPEG and PNG file formats with resize among other refinements.

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That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

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Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
[email protected]
Dave Etchells, Publisher
[email protected]

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