Volume 8, Number 7 31 March 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 172nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Our first PIXMA printer review, a look at Fuji's inexpensive long zoom S5200 and a few other articles help you spring forward! Don't forget to reset the clock on your digicam, too.


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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].

Feature: Canon PIXMA iP6600D Printer -- A Home Kiosk

(Excerpted from the full review posted at on the Web site.)

Inkjet printers have been producing gorgeous color prints for some time now. But have they matured? The latest models refine the class with faster printing and higher resolution but reformulate their inks as well. Beyond the basics, they're starting to add more features to distinguish themselves, including card readers, LCD monitors for in-printer editing, wireless connectivity and duplex printing.

Canon's $199.99 PIXMA iP6600D Photo Printer is a case in point.

An update of the iP6000D, the iP6600D features a 3.5-inch LCD and control panel to evaluate and enhance images on memory cards fed into its memory card reader. In-printer image corrections include automatic red-eye removal, sharpening and enhanced light values on backlit portraits, but you can also crop and make global tone and color corrections.

Printing speed has been improved with a 3,072 nozzle print head and one picoliter ink droplets to print a 4x6 at 9600x2400-dpi resolution in about 46 seconds.

Canon's ChromaLife100 ink delivery system combines the iP6600D's Full-photolitho-graphy Inkjet Nozzle Engineering print head technology and newly-developed inks with select Canon photo papers, with results rivaling that of silver halide prints. And with its new smart ink tanks, an LED lamp flashes when ink is running low and flashes even faster when nearing empty. The six ink cartridges run $14.25 each.

Connections include a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed port, a PictBridge USB port (compatible with the Canon Wireless Print Adapter WA-1N), an IrDA v1.2 infrared detector (for cell phone printing) and a dual slot memory card reader. Paper can be fed from either the top slot or an expandable cartridge built into the bottom of the printer. And the printer can also print on both sides of the sheet when duplex printing is enabled in its driver software.


Canon should get a prize for its Start here posters. You can't miss them, to begin with. They're the first thing you see when you open a Canon printer box. And they are very well done, too.

In columns across the sheet are each step, clearly illustrated and concisely explained. We always follow them carefully, no matter how familiar we think we are with the product. It's just a rewarding experience.

After checking the contents to make sure everything is there, the next trick is to unbind the printer itself from its protective material and tape. Tape is used to keep trays and doors from flapping around during shipping. And cardboard inserts hold the internals in place. Everything is clearly marked (almost always in orange), but the Start Here sheet makes sure you don't miss anything.

Oddly enough, once the protective material is removed, you power on the printer. After it initializes, you select a language from the LCD menu and are advised to install the print head.

The innards are a bit cramped. You have to pull down the paper output tray (nicely engineered with plenty of room for your fingers on the side), open the cover from the front (which does not travel up very far) and pull open an inner cover.

With the print head removed from its foil package, you remove the orange protective cap that shields the electrical contacts and print head nozzles. You then lift a print head lock lever (until it clicks, which takes a push) on the carrier that has positioned itself in the middle of the bay and slip the print head in. It falls easily into place. Then just lower the lock lever again.

You're now ready to install the ink cartridges. Peel the orange tab on the cartridge off to shed the plastic wrapper. Then twist the plastic orange cap off the cartridge to reveal the ink port, being careful not to touch the cartridge's electrical contacts. Then insert the cartridge in the slot labeled for it on the carrier. If you do it right, the cartridge lights up in red, a nice touch.

After you've installed all the cartridges and closed the bay, the printer will perform a head cleaning and request a print head alignment. Just put a sheet of letter-sized paper in the paper tray, select Yes on the LCD message page requesting an alignment and press the OK button. It takes about three minutes and 30 seconds to print the alignment page. That's all there is to it.

The next trick is to install the printer driver software. The Start Here guide recommends you do this with the printer disconnected for Windows and connected for the Mac. At the same time, you can install the on-screen manual, a memory card utility (to copy images from the printer's card reader, although Image Capture does this fine on OS X) and Easy-PhotoPrint, Canon's printing utility software that makes batch printing a delight (highly recommended).

To activate the driver, you'll want to have the printer cable connected, of course. Windows prompts for this. On the Mac, you have to restart to find the driver automatically. Be sure all your printers are on when you do that.

The final step is to load paper. In addition to the paper tray on top, the iP6000D has a cassette. If it looks a little small to hold letter-size paper, it is -- until you expand it. A smoked plastic cover keeps dust out of the extended part of the tray when it's installed.


With the hardware set up and the software installed, the printer is ready for use. But we've found many options are often hidden in the driver software. Let's take a look at a few you might miss if you don't hunt them down.

Vivid Color. Explaining its Vivid Color technology (, Canon notes the trend to "emphasize the faithful reproduction of colors (sRGB) on monitors." Calling that "an impediment to optimal color reproduction," Canon developed Vivid Color, which "determines the most suitable colors for each particular image and then makes adjustments using a proprietary method. As a result, the potential color range is expanded to include bright cyans and greens, which do not appear in the conventional sRGB color range."

Duplex Printing. The iP6600D is a wonderful text printer, delivering sharp color text the rival of any Heidelberg press. And it can print six pages of text on just three sheets of paper, printing first on the back side and then the front, delivering a collated set of sheets in the paper output tray. All you have to do is enable duplex printing from the Duplex Printing & Margin page of the driver software. The same page lets you specify an edge to avoid for stapling. When we tested duplex printing, we used a paper with a pattern on the back, so we noticed duplex prints the front on the back, unlike one-sided printing (which only prints on the front of the sheet, as oriented in the paper tray).

ICC Profiles. Canon provides a number of printer profiles designed to optimize printing with the iP6600D's ink set on different Canon papers. Canon's top end Photo Paper Pro, for example, is also known as PR-101. When printing on this sheet, you'd select the PR1 profile and turn off any color handling in the printer driver's Color Options panel, setting Color Correction to None. Profiles for Matte and Photo Paper Plus Glossy are also available. Multiple versions are also installed (PR1, PR2, PR3, for example) indicating the quality setting (with one the highest).

Easy-PhotoPrint. Also part of the software installation, Easy-PhotoPrint is a printing application that actually does make printing easy, especially batch printing. We had dozens of snapshots we wanted to pop out of the printer but only letter-size photo paper. So we told Easy-PhotoPrint 1) which images we wanted to print, 2) on what size and kind of paper and 3) how we wanted them laid out (four to a sheet). No problem. And they looked great, too.


Large print heads make printing fast and the iP6600D's very large head does indeed print quickly. The small droplet size and high resolution deliver very sharp, detailed prints at the same time.

Because the paper swells when the ink wets it, it encapsulates the dye as the ink vehicle evaporates and the paper shrinks back to its dry state. This can go a long way toward obscuring any dot pattern laid down by the print head (and it does lay one down -- a very fine, frequency modulated screen). Even using a 10x loupe, we weren't able to see the droplets even in the highlights on glossy photo paper.

Print speed was indeed snappy and the printer was smart enough to warn us if we'd forgotten to drop the output tray down.

Even better, there's something about Canon's color prints that just dazzles us. We're so pleased by the first print that we never seem to make any adjustments. And the iP6600D doesn't drop that ball. The prints were stunning.


There's an explanation for that, of course. Canon calls it "Canon Digital Photo Colors." The company uses panel tests and studies to divine "the colors people prefer" based on actual human perception.

"Our efforts to create gray shades that are as neutral as possible achieve colors such as skin tones with low-chromatic colors pleasing to the eye," the company explains. "Improved contrast was made possible by our improvement of gradation curves. Raising color saturation allowed us to express skin tones and backgrounds more vividly. Canon's inkjet printers were rated highest in panel tests with models reflecting these improvements."

The one picoliter droplet size "successfully reduce graininess in every area of an image, from highlights to mid-density and dark areas. Because dot placement is also controlled at the micrometer level, noise is eliminated even in half-tone areas, which contributes further to outputting extremely smooth images."

But the smaller droplets have their technical hurdles, too. The smaller they are, the more likely misplacement will affect image quality and the effects of air resistance (especially in the air currents created by the rapidly moving print head) are more pronounced. Canon's FINE technology addresses both concerns, thrusting a very precise amount of ink downwards with a bubble generated at the tip of the nozzle "and the energy created when this bubble is formed is efficiently converted into a powerful ejection force."


There's been a lot of discussion over the relative merits of pigments vs. dye-based inks. Epson has long provided pigment inks while other inkjet manufacturers supplied dyes. Hewlett-Packard recently introduced its first pigment printer, but made an interesting observation when it did so. They've been making pigment printers for years, the company claimed -- black ink is pigment.

Indeed Canon's black is a pigment ink designed to prevent the ink from disappearing from the surface of the sheet, so it sits well on plain paper. Canon's color dye inks are designed for high optical density values and light-fastness of over 25 years, which can "resist fading for up to 100 years."

The paper is part of that equation, too. We tested with Canon's top of the line Photo Paper Pro, which sandwiches several layers together. The large pulp layer is the meat of the sandwich, covered on both sides by an intermediate reflective layer. On the very bottom there's a back coating layer. On top, an ink absorption layer sits below a gas resistance enhancer which is topped by a mirror surface finish.


In addition to printing standard sized photos, we tried a few other tricks with the iP6600D. Among the first was to see if we could tell the difference between an image printed from the printer and one printed from the computer.

We were, in fact, able to detect a very slight difference between an image of a blueish red carnation printed directly from the camera and printed from Photoshop using the PR1 printer profile. It was very subtle, but the camera print kept more of the blue in the red than the Photoshop print. Neither was quite as blue as the original flower, however.

We had all the enhancements turned off in the printer itself, so the real explanation for the difference is Exif Print, the printer's reliance on the image's shooting conditions data to render the image. In Photoshop, that data doesn't come into play, relying instead on your own manipulations of tone and color, faithfully transmitted to the printer by Photoshop using an ICC printer profile.


Since we also had Canon's WiFi PowerShot SD430 here, we plugged the WiFi printer adapter included with that camera into the printer's PictBridge port and printed from the camera via WiFi. That was great fun.

Of course, it obviates the need for the printer's built-in console, since you use the camera's PictBridge printing menu to make your wishes known to the printer. And certainly it makes the built-in reader superfluous. But those options are nice to have even if you do have a wireless camera.


The large 3.5-inch LCD is great for menu selection but doesn't do justice to your images. Somehow they look a lot better in the camera than they do on the printer, even after the blurry preview resolves into a higher res display.

The Settings menu offers quite a few enhancements, including red-eye correction, but we're naturally wary of them. We like to see the enhancements before printing them. Often enough, we've found, they aren't improvements.

But the iP6600D's enhancements are worth mentioning at least. In addition to Red-Eye Correction, your options include Vivid Photo, Photo Optimizer Pro (for brightness and tonal corrections), Noise Reduction, Face Brightener (for backlit scenes), Image Optimizer (smooths the jaggies), Brightness (+2 to -2 in full steps), Contrast (+2 to -2 in full steps), Color Hue (+2 to -2 in full steps), Effect (No Effects, Sepia, Simulate Illustration).

You can set the paper size and layout, too. And show a slide show of the images on the card. You can search for a photo with a specific shooting date, crop an image, specify a layout, print on sticker paper and more.

Operation is fairly straightforward. There's a navigation pad and an OK button, which has to be pressed to confirm you hit the Print button.


Epson has long championed black and white printing with its pigment Stylus printers. And Hewlett-Packard has, too, introducing more gray inks than anyone else. Third party ink suppliers like Piezography ( can retrofit an Epson with a set of black inks that can produce very rich monotone images.

With its new pigment printer, the PIXMA iP9500, Canon adds a photo gray in addition to photo black and matte black inks, as in their new high end Image PROGRAF IPF5000.

But the iP6600D doesn't play that game, using only the one black ink cartridge. The driver does have a Grayscale checkbox, which prints a fairly well-balanced (but not entirely neutral) monotone image using the color ink cartridges.

We desaturated a color image, leaving it in RGB mode and printed it on Epson enhanced matte paper using the Grayscale option. It came out a bit damp and mottled, so we set it aside for a few minutes. When it dried, the mottling in the shadows had disappeared and it looked very sharp with good tonal gradations. Closer inspection of the highlights revealed droplets that were not apparent on the glossy color image (which encapsulates the dyes in a way the matte sheet can't). That most likely isn't a defect, however. Being able to hold the droplet on a matte surface speaks more to the precision of the technology and accounts for the fine detail we appreciated.

But the image had a slight (but obvious) magenta cast. Odd, considering the highlight droplets we observed were all cyan. Perhaps the shadows get a bit more magenta with the Grayscale option. We can only speculate about that, since the shadows are heavily inked.

We believe we could do better with a custom profile for black and white printing. If not a dead-on neutral, at least a warm one and a cool one, rather than a magenta one. But if you want to do black and white printing, your best bet is a printer that offers multiple gray inks.


New inkjet models are trying hard to stand out from the crowd by offering special features like LCD monitors and duplex printing while increasing resolution and print speed. Canon's iP6600D Photo Printer does both well.

Read the specs and you'll see this is a no-nonsense photo printer. That it handles color text duplex printing is a nice bonus. Having a card reader and large LCD make it feasible to use much like a drugstore kiosk, too. But to get the most out of it, you'll want to linger in your image editor and tweak a special image or two. At $200 list, it's an upgrade from the $100 inkjets, but you get a lot in return.

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Feature: Fuji FinePix S5200 -- Features, Quality, Price

(Excerpted from the full review posted at on the Web site.)


Fujifilm's greatest success has been in creating good-quality midrange cameras that sell at very competitive prices and the new Fuji S5200 continues in that vein. A couple of years ago, Fuji introduced long-zoom digicams at affordable price levels with their FinePix 2800 and 3800 models. Now, the Fuji S5200 advances the cause even further, with a 5.1-megapixel CCD (up from the S5100's 4.0-Mp CCD), a 10x optical zoom lens and a host of exposure modes and features. While it still sports a fully automatic mode, the Fuji FinePix S5200 goes beyond basic point-and-shoot capability with Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual modes, as well as a few Scene modes. The Fuji S5200 offers very long-zoom capability and greater exposure control at a surprisingly affordable price.


Featuring a miniaturized, SLR-style body design that brings to mind a scaled-down dSLR, the $399.95 Fuji FinePix S5200 offers a 10x optical zoom lens complemented by a 5.1-Mp CCD. To accommodate the camera's long zoom lens, the Fuji S5200's body is hardly pocketable, but still compact compared to many long-zoom digicams. Very portable and surprisingly lightweight, the S5200 is definitely easy to bring along to impromptu outings and social gatherings. An included lens cover provides protection from impact damage. Too large for a standard shirt pocket, the S5200 should fit into larger coat pockets and purses and comes with a shoulder strap, which is the likely way you'll bring it with you. Measuring 4.4x3.3x4.4 inches feels great in one hand. A substantial handgrip provides a very firm hold, nicely balancing out the weight of the lens barrel. The S5200's 5.1-megapixel CCD delivers clear, sharp images as large as 2592x1944 pixels, suitable for printing as large as 11x14 inches with great detail or 8x10 inches with some cropping. A lower resolution is also available for more email-friendly file sizes.

The S5200's Fujinon 10x, 6.3-63mm lens is the equivalent of a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera, representing a focal length range from moderate wide-angle to substantial telephoto. A small, plastic lens cap protects the lens when not in use and tethers to the camera so you don't have to worry about losing it. Apertures range from f3.2 to f8 and can be manually set. Focus can be set automatically or manually (using the zoom buttons with the Exposure Compensation button held down), with a focal range from 3.0 feet (90cm) to infinity in normal mode and from 3.9 inches to 6.6 feet (10cm to 2 meters) in Macro mode. In addition to the 10x optical zoom, the S5200 also offers as much as 5.7x digital enlargement, depending on the image size selected. The digital zoom works at all image sizes in the S5200, so the usual caution about reduced image quality applies. There is no image stabilization on the S5200; instead the camera has an Anti-blur mode that relies on a fast shutter speed to reduce both camera shake and blur from subject movement.

The S5200 offers a TTL electronic optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. The viewfinder display switches between the EVF and LCD monitor via a button on the rear panel, which means that the complete display is available on the EVF, including the settings menus. The viewfinder's information display reports various camera settings with a central AF target and an optional framing guide display divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically for more accurate framing. Though they're both 115,000 pixels, the EVF view seems more coarse than the LCD.

The S5200 offers a full complement of capture modes, from Automatic to full Manual, plus several Scene modes. The Mode dial on top of the camera puts the camera into Auto, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie, Anti-blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape and Night modes. Auto mode determines the entire exposure automatically, with the user able to adjust the zoom, flash mode and image size and quality settings only. Program mode allows the user to change most settings, including alternate combinations of Aperture and Shutter speed using the up and down arrows. Shutter and Aperture Priority work as expected, also allowing the user to adjust settings with the up and down arrows. In Manual mode, you use the up and down arrows to adjust shutter speed and you must hold down the Exposure Compensation button on the camera's top panel to adjust Aperture. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 15 seconds. The S5200 uses a 64-zone metering system to determine exposure, with three modes: Multi, Spot and Average. Multi metering mode considers all 64 zones, Spot considers only the center 2 percent and Average places the greatest emphasis on the center portion of the image area. Light sensitivity can be set to Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1600. When shooting in Program, Shutter and Aperture exposure modes, exposure compensation is adjustable from +/-2EV in one-third-step increments. White Balance offers eight settings, including Auto, Custom, Daylight (Fine conditions), Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent and Incandescent. The S5200's Scene mode offers five preset "Scenes" for shooting in potentially tricky situations and includes Anti-blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape and Night Scene modes.

The S5200's built-in, pop-up flash operates in one of six modes, which include Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow Synchro and Slow Synchro with Red-Eye Reduction modes. Flash power, however, is not adjustable. For self-portraits or those times when pressing the Shutter button might result in camera movement, the S5200 features a Self-Timer that delays the shutter release for either two or 10 seconds after the Shutter button is fully pressed. The S5200 can also capture movies with sound up to the limit of the card's capacity while in Movie capture mode. Movie files are saved in the Motion JPEG format, at either 640x480 or 320x240 pixels and 30 frames per second.

The S5200 can also record still images in Continuous mode, at up to about two frames per second, according to our tests. Top 3-frame mode saves the first three images and Final 3-frame saves the last three images in the buffer. Long-period Continuous Shooting mode can handle up to 40 frames before the buffer is filled, but it takes a little longer between shots, at a speed of 1.25 frames per second.

A Bracketing option, available in Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual mode, shoots three consecutive frames at three different exposures (normal, under and over). Brackets can be set at 1/3, 2/3 or one EV. A Sharpness option can be set to Hard to emphasize outlines, Standard for ordinary photography or Soft to soften outlines.

Images captured by the S5200 are saved to xD-Picture Cards. A 16-MB card comes with the camera. In addition to the 2592x1944-pixel resolution size, the S5200 also offers 2736x1824 (a 3:2 aspect ratio); 2048x1536; 1600x1200; and 640x480-pixel resolutions. Two JPEG compression ratios are available, including Fine and Normal. The Playback menu offers DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings for printing images on a compatible device. A USB cable and software CD accompany the camera, allowing for high-speed connection to a computer. The software CD contains Fuji's FinePix Viewer software, which organizes and displays downloaded images and provides printing and minor editing capabilities.

The S5200 uses four AA batteries for power and a set of alkaline cells accompanies the camera. As always, I strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger and keeping a spare set of batteries charged at all times. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best or here for my review of the Maha C-204W charger, my longtime favorite. An AC adapter is also a separate accessory, but helpful for saving battery power while reviewing and downloading images or when using the S5200 as a webcam. Unless you're taking advantage of the camera's webcam capability though, rechargeable batteries would eliminate the need for the AC adapter.

With its compact and lightweight body, the convenience of full automatic and manual exposure control, 5.1-megapixel CCD and impressive 10x zoom lens, the S5200 is a good choice for consumers looking for a portable, affordable, easy to use digicam that's also capable of manual control and takes good pictures. The S5200 offers a basic level of exposure control when you want it, complete control when that's desirable, some preset shooting modes for common tricky situations and a Movie mode for capturing quick bits of action. Given the aggressive "street" prices the S5200 is selling at, it's one of the better bargains in the digicam market today.

Test Results:


The previous Fujifilm S5100, 2800 and 3800 Zoom cameras were exceptional values for the money and the updated S5200 offers the same great value with the addition of a 5.1-Mp CCD and decent high ISO performance. The Fujifilm FinePix S5200's higher resolution is a welcome improvement, providing great image quality for a budget-priced digital camera and its 10x optical zoom is excellent for distant subjects. Its color is more accurate than that of most consumer digicams, although that means it's less saturated on bright colors than most consumer cameras. Overall, the S5200 has just about all an enthusiast user could want in terms of expanded photographic controls, including full Manual exposure mode for ultimate creativity. About all it lacks relative to its competitors in the 10x zoom category is image stabilization. Given its price and its 5-Mp resolution, its lack of stabilization really can't be counted against it. For everyday shooting indoors or out, under bright or dim lighting, the S5200 does very well and really sets a benchmark for an affordable long-zoom digicam with enthusiast features. Recommended and a Dave's Pick as one of the best digital camera values on the market, thanks to its combo of features, image quality and price.

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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: Using Small Paper

Funny headline, isn't it? But, astute observers of Other People that we pretend to be, we couldn't help but notice an alarming trend. Many people, admiring a photo on their screen enough to print it, are reluctant to switch from a letter-sized sheet to 4x6 photo paper. It's like, well, printing envelopes!

Why such reticence? What's to be afraid of?

Well, the printer, that's what. Toss a small sheet of paper in the paper tray and cross your fingers. The image may print on the paper -- but it probably won't. You may see a corner of it, if you're lucky. Printers just aren't smart enough to know when they're being served photo paper.

And yet the advantages of switching to a small sheet of glossy photo paper are tremendous. You get a gorgeous print, not some washed out equivalent. And you don't have to run around looking for scissors to fit it into a small frame.

So how hard is it? What's the magic word? Like most things in life, the hard thing is remembering to do what you should.

First, you have to remember how to load a small sheet of paper. Is the glossy side up or down? Do you line it up on the right or left side of the paper tray? Sometimes your printer drops a subtle hint with an unintelligible icon (one corner of a page turned back, perhaps). You may have to look this up in your printer manual, but it won't get you a job as a researcher. We like to open the printer to see just how the paper goes through it to answer this question. That makes it harder to forget how to load the paper.

Second, you have to remember to tell the printer driver -- the software -- about this change in circumstances. If the software doesn't know, it won't center the image on your 4x6 sheet but print it as if there were a Letter-sized sheet in the tray. This step is vastly more confusing than it should be, making you run from Page Setup to Print Settings to Configuration to any number of things. And just when you've told it which printer you're using (the same one you always use) and which page size you're using (a 4x6 borderless, say), it seems some other setup contradicts it (perhaps in the application's let-me-help print setup). But persist. Before you click Print, check the settings. And if your software makes it too much trouble, try a different application.

One more thing, though.

Porous old copy paper isn't very good at making your inks shine. But glossy photo paper is. Make sure to tell your printer driver that you're printing on glossy paper. Look through the Driver options for a Paper Type setting -- and don't give up until you find it. That tells the printer to lay down a coat of ink that will be encapsulated in (not soaked up by) the paper's surface and look for all the world like a real print.

Now if you're MacArthur Grant material, you'll save your settings so all you have to do is select Photo Print from your collection of saved settings, pop the paper in the printer and get a nice photo print. You can switch back to your saved Letter setting when you're done.

It is indeed a lot more trouble than it should be, but that's the size of it, really.

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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:

Visit the Olympus eVolt 330 Discussion at[email protected]@.eea1ad2/0

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Visit the Techniques Forum at[email protected]@.ee6b325

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Just for Fun: The Self & A Portrait

We found ourselves reading a piece by Alex Williams in the New York Times about the interest young people have in taking self portraits with their camphones, digicams and anything else with a lens.

Or we lost ourselves in it, we should say. We'd just returned home from a long weekend celebrating the too short life of our friend and brother-in-law. One or another thing kept popping into our mind and this article gave us something else to think about.

Or did it? A couple of us had worked on the DVD slide show that played during the memorial service in a quiet room at the house he had been renovating the last 10 years. We had a lot of material to work with. Some childhood shots from his baby book. A few high school images and a lot of publicity stills from his early career in the theater in New York. Then there were the family snapshots, posing with his two sons, at their various graduations, the whole enchilada. Not one of them a self portrait.

We decided right away to animate the slide show, to lead the viewer through each shot. Rotation and zoom were used subtly to emphasize what he was doing or how he looked.

His eyes stared at you in most of those classic, well-lit publicity stills. In all of those shots, he was acting, of course. For the camera, for the photographer, for the imaginary audience of casting directors and fans.

Then something happened. As he fell in love, married and had two boys, the pose relaxed into laughter. The pictures showed him holding the video camera, or juggling the boys or hugging his wife. They were fun pictures but also some more intimate sequences when the photographer wasn't observed.

In the very last pictures, he was clearly ill. The handsome young man became the frail face that still somehow beamed when he smiled. Now, he wasn't acting. He was expressing a happiness and affection that compressed into a DVD slide show spanning his life was particularly moving.

In his article, Williams reports a number of explanations for the phenomenon of self-portraiture. Mimicking the celebrity culture, identity building, an adolescent form of playing dress up, self-marketing. Of course it's fun, too. And a chance to be creative where the client to be pleased is primarily yourself. "Many users," Williams writes, "consider digital self-portraits whimsical and ultimately disposable."

But perhaps it is life itself that is whimsical -- irreverent in the face of our own disposability. We will love ourselves if no one else will. And when someone comes along to do it for us, well, that's not disposable. It's beautiful.

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RE: Image Stabilization

Have you folks published any comparison of image stabilization features on those cameras that have this capability? Is one method better than the others? Do you think this feature will become standard in the future?

-- Rob Prichard

(It's very tough to do a really rigorous test of anti-shake systems against each other, but we did take a look at the systems of Panasonic and Konica Minolta a year or so back ( Given the statistical nature of the results, it's hard to draw a really firm conclusion about the effectiveness of different approaches, but at the time, both seemed to work about equally well, albeit for slightly different types of vibration. The Konica Minolta in-camera method worked best in its always-on mode and seemed to do better for lower-frequency vibration, the lens-based Panasonic system did better in its "just in time" mode, where it started up the anti-shake only when you pressed the shutter and seemed to do better with higher-frequency motion. -- Dave)

RE: Maha Fan

Because I saw the Maha Energy ad in your newsletter, I bought the chargers. I enjoyed the state of the art charging and the long life of the rechargeable batteries.

When the AC Adapters conked out, I asked them how to get an alternative device locally. Do you know what they did!? They sent me replacements and an email stating so.

Unfortunately the packet didn't arrive. I admired their effort but was sad to not receive the adapters. I told them. And thatŐs all it took!!!! They sent another pack and it reached me. I have enjoyed the chargers ever after.

I have to thank you first and I thank Maha Energy profusely for its admirable customer care.

-- Dr. M.S. Mayilvahnan, ARPS AFIAP

(Delighted to share that happy ending! -- Editor)

RE: Olycaps

Dan Price lists Olycaps for seven other specific Olympus designations, Mike, but also on his Web site.

-- Roger Patterson

(Thanks, Dan! -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Earlier this month, former Life photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks ( passed away at his Manhattan home. The first African-American to work as a staff photographer for Life magazine, he covered everything from racism to Paris fashions for over 20 years before becoming the first African-American to produce and direct a major Hollywood film, "The Learning Tree." He went on to direct "Shaft" and "Shaft's Big Score!"

His career got its start when, working as a waiter on the North Coast Limited train running between Chicago and Seattle, he picked up a magazine left by a passenger. In those pages, he got his first glimpse of the work of the photographers of the Farm Security Administration. Jack Delano, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Ben Shahn, among them. "I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs," he remembered. "I knew at that point I had to have a camera."

He got that camera, a Voightlander Brilliant for $12.50, at a pawn shop in Seattle. A few months later, his pictures were exhibited in Kodak's Minneapolis store windows, leading to professional work taking society portraits and fashion photos. That early success with no professional training convinced him he could succeed at whatever he tried. And for 93 years, he proved it.

Pentax has launched a Kelly Slater Invitational surfing event Web site ( to highlight the waterproof Optio W10 as the official camera of the Feb. event. Visitors to the site can enter for a chance to win a Quiksilver gear package or an Optio W10.

Phanfare ( has increased its video limit to anything under five minutes and can now play them in your slideshows. A new video converter handles more formats (tested by the Imaging Resource video team at PMA, BTW). New versions of Phanfare Photo [MW] supporting the new video features are also available.

Richard Lynch at Hidden Power has publishing a new edition of his free Hidden Power Elements newsletter (, a new 100 tool Power Tools set [MW] (, a new Hidden Power book The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 4 ( and a new 8-week internet class on the Elements Workflow (

Light Crafts ( has updated LightZone [LMW], its cross-platform image editing solution based on the Zone System, introducing Color Cast and Color Balance tools in addition to improved noise reduction, new histogram and sampler views, a command to invert masks and some bug fixes. The new version also treats grayscale images as RGB to allow color tools to be used on them.

FeroXsoft ( has released iPhoto Batch Enhancer 2 [M] to apply any iPhoto Effects and Adjust palette settings to a selection of images in iPhoto 2 or later. You can save the edits as a snapshot to apply again later.

O'Reilly Media ( has signed an agreement with commercial photographer Eddie Tapp for a new tutorial-based book series entitled Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography. The series is designed to cover specific areas of technical need for working professionals and serious students of photography, without forcing them to buy more than they need. Topics covered will range from color management, workflow, to production techniques and output. The first book covering workflow management is due to be released in July 2006.

Ben Long ( has released his free Aperture Library Spanner [M] to span the Aperture library across multiple volumes to extend your storage.

Iranian artist Seyed Alavi has installed Flying Carpet, a mural of an aerial view of the Sacramento River woven into the carpet of a pedestrian bridge connection the Sacramento International Airport terminal to the parking garage ( ).

The Laser Monks ( refill ink cartridges at the Wisconsin monastery, where a portion of the proceeds go to charity. They also sell discounted brand-name cartridges.

Prosoft Engineering ( has released its $59 Data Backup 2.1 [M] as a Universal Binary with improved compatibility with non-HFS file systems, copying of symbolic links only when changed, a fix for problems where large numbers of volumes prevented launch and more.

No Starch Press ( has published its $24.95 208-page Creative Computer Crafts: 50 Fun and Useful Projects You Can Make with Any Inkjet Printer by Marcelle Costanza.

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Happy snapping!

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