Volume 8, Number 10 12 May 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 175th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Happy Mother's Day! Quick, before you celebrate, read Dave's hands-on experience with some of Kodak's advanced technology, Stephanie's review of a bargain Sony compact digicam and Dave's profile of Sean Reid, the newest contributor to the site. Then come back to study our primer of zoom lenses and don't go to sleep without having a little fun with our Mother's Day wish for you!


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Feature: Kodak at Top of the Rock


NEW YORK CITY -- At Kodak's recent New York press event, the company announced three new products (two hardware and one software) and gave an interesting glimpse into some of the near-future technology the Kodak engineering team is working on. The new products announced were the new Kodak V610, the 2006 edition of the Kodak EasyShare One and Version 6 of Kodak's EasyShare Software.


The V610 is the second in what's apparently to be a series of "Retina" cameras, having two complete lens/CCD systems. The original V570 combined a 23mm ultra-wide lens with a conventional 3x zoom lens. The new V610 combines two zoom lenses, a roughly normal-range 3x, going from medium wide to medium telephoto and a telephoto zoom that goes from medium to long telephoto. The overall zoom range is 10x, in a camera body only slightly larger and thicker than that of the original V570 (under an inch thick.) The V610 also includes the exceptional auto panorama stitching of the V570, as well as the Kodak Perfect Touch processing introduced with that model for very effective automatic tone and color correction.

The 2006 version of the EasyShare One addresses one of the chief criticisms of the original model, namely its rather low sensor resolution of four megapixels. The new 2006 EasyShare One boosts this to six megapixels, much more in line with the other digital cameras it competes with.

Kodak's free EasyShare Software has always been a favorite recommendation of mine for non techno-savvy friends. Kodak took an early lead in making photo management and printing software truly easy to use. Now in its sixth generation, Kodak reports that its EasyShare software is installed on no less than 30 million computers worldwide, making it far and away the most widely deployed consumer imaging software. The new version 6 sports a substantially redesigned user interface, with most of the tools quietly sitting in the background until they're needed. The design aesthetic of the software is to focus all the user's attention on the photos themselves, rather than the tool. Kodak's feeling is that this increased emphasis on the photos (which after all, is what it's all about) will inspire users to do more with them. And getting people to do more with their photos is obviously critical to Kodak's business plans and future revenue.

The press event was held at the "Top of the Rock," high atop Rockefeller Center and was blessed with bright, sunny weather, a relief for the Kodak PR folks after the stormy day that preceded it. Apart from a fair bit of atmospheric haze and the need to shoot through the glass protective barriers on the observation deck, this was a perfect environment to show off the 10x zoom and panoramic capabilities of the new V610. I shot a few wide-to-tele comparison shots, as well as a couple of panoramas (see shots at


Apart from the new products being announced, Kodak shipped a number of their research scientists and product-development folks down from Rochester, N.Y. to show off some of the technology that's poised to make its way out of the back labs. What we saw was pretty impressive and appears to be far enough along that it might make it into the retail market relatively soon.

My own assessment, as you might expect, Kodak was keeping pretty close-mouthed about when to expect any of this at retail, but what was on display appeared to work pretty well, with few rough edges in evidence.

The key to all the future technology was to make sharing photographs easier than ever, even photos that far predate the digital era.

One of the most impressive demos I saw was a high-speed print scanner system that could accept prints ranging from a couple of inches on a side up to 11x17 and scan them at a rate of two prints per second.

The scanning hardware itself is actually already on the market, in use for high-speed scanning of checks and air-express waybills. Given the high monetary value associated with each scanned document in those applications, the scanning mechanism has been constructed for very high reliability and very gentle treatment of the documents being handled. We didn't see it demonstrated, but Kodak claims it can actually scan tissue paper reliably.

Two photos per second strikes us as about what you'd need to do, to entice people to scan their proverbial shoeboxes of old family photos. A stack of 100 disappears in less than a minute, so it's quite feasible to scan a thousand or more photos per batch.

The scanning speed alone was impressive enough, but even more so was the level of smarts built into the software, aimed at intelligently categorizing and organizing incoming photos by decade. The scanner reads both sides of the photos simultaneously, so it can pick up and recognize via optical character recognition any back-printing on the images. It can also recognize hand-written dates on the backs of the photos.

As if that weren't enough, the software contains a database of all sorts of date-correlated information gleaned from Kodak's years of retail photofinishing. Things like what year they introduced rounded corners on 2-1/4 inch square prints, specific dimensions and aspect ratios of various types of prints, all manner of barely-legible watermarks on the back of the photo paper, indicating the type and characteristics of the paper itself, etc., etc.

The net result is a system that can do a surprisingly good job of figuring out (to within a decade's resolution at least) when a print was made, over the last 50 years or so. From the consumer's viewpoint, they just dump a shoebox full of images in one end of the process and a digital archive pops out the other organized by decade. Very slick.

But (as they say on the infomercials), "That's not all!" Other software on display could take batches of images and group them (within each decade) by similar subject content: similar mixes of color, backgrounds, etc. So all your vacation photos from the trip to Yellowstone National Park end up grouped together, separate from the shots at Johnny's birthday party.

But that's still not all. Face-recognition software built into the package not only recognizes faces, but extracts various metrics from them (spacing between the eyes relative to spacing of eyes/nose/mouth, shape of face, etc), so it can group together photos containing images of the same people. Provided of course, that full-face views are available. Profile shots still defy accurate characterization.

Having scanned through all the photos, organized them by decade and grouped them by content and subject identities, a last step in the software is to spit out automatically-formatted photo albums, able to be printed and bound by Kodak's EasyShare Gallery's output services.

This collection of technology strikes me as huge.

The ability to digitize and automatically organize even vast shoebox collections of photo prints promises to pull years of memories out of dusty closets and make them available for sharing. Even more importantly, the speed of the scanning process means it can be a while-you-wait proposition, so consumers need never lose sight or contact with their precious photo memories. This overcomes a huge barrier that previous attempts at digitizing old family photos haven't been able to overcome.

As noted, Kodak wasn't saying anything about when all this technology would make it out to the general market, but a limited retail test in a few locations around Kodak's headquarters in Rochester is under way right now.


All of the above was pretty impressive, but a couple of things maybe spoke more about the future of cameras in general and Kodak cameras in particular than all else combined. Kodak stated that they expected that "most" digital cameras would be Internet-connected in one way or another by the end of the decade.

I'm not sure that I'm quite as sanguine as they are about that, but there's no question that WiFi and Bluetooth are going to be finding their way into many more cameras with each passing year.

The most significant thing I saw though, was what looked like a conceptual demo, of someone carrying on a VOIP (voice over Internet) conversation via their EasyShare One camera. We've seen a lot of cell phones with limited-quality cameras built into them on the market, this was the first evidence I've seen of the "convergence" phenomena happening from the other direction, cameras moving into voice communications.

It makes sense and probably should have been obvious really, but I confess to having an "aha!" moment when I saw the demo: WiFi connection to the Internet, microphone, speaker, full IP protocol stack built into the camera ... of course, voice communications!

I don't think Motorola and Nokia have much to worry about Kodak cameras eating into their cell phone marketshare, but seeing convergence moving from both directions somehow made it seem more like a real phenomena to me, rather than just something the analysts beat the drum about.


As a parting shot and an indication of just how far we've come, Kodak had the engineering prototype of what they claimed was the first digital still camera on display. An ungainly collection of circuit boards and rough-machined aluminum, the device was perhaps 6-8 inches on a side and had "something under QVGA (320x240) resolution."

Quite a trip from that to today's 6-Mp, 10x-zoom, Bluetooth-equipped pocket-sized V610. One can only speculate what the next 30 years will bring....

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Feature: Sony DSC-W30 -- A Quality Compact

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


Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W30 updates the already popular Cyber-shot line with an ultra-thin, compact body built for travel. A 3x zoom lens, 2.0-inch color LCD monitor and handful of preset Scene modes makes the Sony W30 very user friendly, with straightforward operation that novices will appreciate. The 6.0-megapixel CCD captures high-resolution images and 32-MB of internal memory lets the camera hold a few shots without a memory card. Compact yet capable, the Sony W30 promises to be another winner from Sony.

The Sony DSC-W30 is a near-twin of the Sony W50, which we have also reviewed. The only noticeable difference is that the W50 has a 2.5-inch LCD display, while the W30 has a 2.0-inch one. We did find some minor differences in the images between the two models though. Our sample of the Sony W30 tended to produce slightly more neutral color balances than did the W50 we tested.


Thin and ultra-compact, the new $249 Sony DSC-W30 digital camera (and its sibling the W50 model) updates the Cyber-shot line with convenient portability and fully automatic exposure control in a compact, rugged metal case. The W30 offers the excellent resolution of a 6.0-megapixel CCD and 32-MB of internal memory, as well as a large 2.0-inch color LCD monitor and useful range of preset exposure modes.

Though the Sony W30 doesn't offer any direct manual exposure control, the camera's extensive LCD menu system does offer quite a bit of creative control with image contrast, sharpness and color options. The 3x optical zoom lens zooms across a range equivalent to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera and the camera's Macro focus mode gets exceptionally close at just two centimeters.

IS0 1000. The Sony W30 boasts an extended ISO range, with equivalent settings from 80 to 1000. While the 800 and 1000 settings do allow you to capture brighter images under dim lighting, they also bring with them much higher image noise as a consequence. Still, the wide range of ISO settings is a plus for a point-and-shoot digital camera.

Though the LCD monitor dominates the rear panel, Sony managed to keep all the main functions close at hand and fairly easy to operate. Grab the Sony W30 in your right hand and your middle and third finger naturally grab the raised ridge on the front of the camera. The series of raised bumps on the rear panel provides some thumb traction, though I noticed a tendency for my thumb to slide over the Display and Menu buttons. (However, both buttons require a bit of a firm push, so I had no problems with accidentally pressing them.)

Conveniently above the thumb rest is the Mode dial and below it is the Five-way navigator. I did require a two-handed grip to accurately turn the Mode dial, due to its low-profile design. Dave can manage it with one hand, but I'd be nervous about dropping the camera if I tried to do so. The camera's Zoom lever encircles the Shutter button, making it easy to quickly adjust zoom while holding the camera in shooting position.

I also liked little interface niceties, such as the "virtual dial" that appears on the LCD screen when you rotate the mode dial. This display shows the currently-selected option and a brief explanation of what that mode is useful for.

Responsive. The Sony W30 is a very responsive-feeling camera. Pressing the Power button on top of the body produces a swift reaction: the LCD comes on, the camera chimes and the lens assembly bursts out of its silo quickly, letting the camera snap its first picture only 1.7 seconds after being turned on. A half-press on the shutter begins the focus operation.

In low light, a bright orange LED illuminates the scene when necessary, so low-light focus isn't a worry. The fast Multi-point AF determines the closest object and focuses quickly, showing brackets around the areas that will be in focus. Shutter lag (the delay between pressing the shutter button and the camera taking the picture) is lower than that of most cameras on the market, with a range of 0.32-0.55 second.

Everything about the camera feels like quality and performs competently.

Included with the camera is a Sony Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack and charger, which has a pretty good battery life. I still suggest purchasing a backup battery pack and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings. The camera's internal 32-MB of memory will hold a few shots, but here again, I'd recommend picking up at least a 128-megabyte Memory Stick Duo card or a Memory Stick PRO Duo card for the Fine quality movie recording mode.

The Sony DSC-W30 is an impressive offering, much like the rest of the W-series in the Cyber-shot line. It is handsomely constructed, with a feel of quality, is uncomplicated to operate, has good battery life and is compact enough for most pockets or purses. Its ample LCD screen and quality lens should give most users a great experience capturing pictures they'll be proud to display.

Noise. The one thing I really found to complain about with it was the image noise in high-ISO photos. I really don't know why Sony bothered putting ISO 800 and 1,000 options on the camera, as they're only remotely usable for snapshot-size prints and even that will depend on the user's tolerance for noisy, muddy images. If you just forget about the ISO 800 and 1000 sensitivity settings though, the Sony W30 is a great little camera!

Test Results:


Featuring a 6.0-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom lens and well-designed user interface, the Cyber-shot DSC-W30 updates the popular Cyber-shot line with a thin, compact body style perfectly suited for travel. Exposure remains under automatic control, something novices will appreciate and its seven preprogrammed scene modes help with more tricky subjects.

It's a very responsive camera, with low shutter lag in daylight conditions and excellent shot-to-shot speeds. It also sports very good battery life, a very capable Movie mode and excellent download speed. Finally, Sony makes a line of accessory lenses, filters, a slave flash and even an underwater case for it as well, greatly expanding your options beyond what you'd normally expect from a compact digicam model.

The bright 2.0-inch color LCD monitor is excellent for framing and reviewing shots and the overall design and layout of the W30 is user-friendly and hassle-free. If you're looking for a good "take anywhere" camera with great versatility and good color and tonality, the Sony DSC-W30 deserves a close look. (And if you'd like a the same camera with a larger 2.5-inch LCD, the Sony DSC-W50 is only about $20-$30 more at retail.)

We suggest you ignore the ISO 800 and 1000 settings on the camera, as the image quality there is really marginal even for snapshot-size prints. But if you look at the Sony W30 as an ISO 400 camera, it competes very strongly, making it a Dave's Pick in its category.

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Feature: Sean Reid and


Sean Reid's unique subscription-based Web site ( should be on the destination list of every serious photographer on the 'net. Look for some of Sean's writing to come to Imaging Resource in the near future!

The Internet can be a tough place to make a living or even to find support for efforts at serious dialog and analysis. When it comes to supporting a Web site, there are two basic models: advertising (including affiliate revenue from comparison shopping) or subscriptions. At Imaging Resource we operate an ad-based model, with revenue split about equally between ads and comparison-shopping click fees.

That's worked for us but it means our editorial efforts need to focus more on the interests of the mass market than any one niche. We defy that pressure somewhat, by conducting very deep testing of even consumer-level cameras and by indulging in deeper analysis of specific products, beyond what the readership for those pieces truly justify.

The problem with the ad/shopping model is that it places very low value on each individual viewing of an article. There's no way for people who really want a particular type of coverage to support it financially.

The alternative is a subscription-based model, where a smaller number of people can pay directly for content they want to support. The problem with subscription models on the Internet though, is it can be very hard to get enough exposure to attract enough subscribers to make a viable enterprise.

In the online photo world, one individual who's trying to make the subscription-based model work is Sean Reid, proprietor of

Sean's work consists of deep reviews, analysis and philosophical ponderings based on his more than two decades of experience as a practicing professional photographer, not to mention a couple of years mixed in as a black-and-white exhibition printer. Sean not only has a valuable and unique perspective on the world of photography, but is a fluid, articulate writer who does an excellent job of conveying that perspective to a broad range of readers.

In an email conversation with Sean recently, it struck me that his work makes an excellent complement to what we do here at Imaging Resource. We bring to bear years of testing and technology, combined with the experience of having tested and worked with more than 500 digital cameras covering the full scope of the market, flavored by our years as serious amateur photo enthusiasts. Sean brings the perspective of years of earning a living with his craft and of working at the highest levels of both the commercial and art-photography marketplaces. I'd like to find a way to bring at least a portion of Sean's work to the Imaging Resource audience, because I think it would so nicely complement what we're producing.

So, two things. First, I strongly encourage the serious enthusiast photographers among Imaging Resource's readers to subscribe to Sean's site. The annual fee of $26.50 is a paltry amount relative to the richness of the material there. And if I can convince enough of you to subscribe, it'll help ensure Sean and stay around for my own enjoyment. :-)

Secondly, Sean and Imaging Resource are going to enter into a bit of an experiment, by which we'll be hiring him to bring his unique perspective to the Imaging Resource site, as a complement to our own test and review work. I'm really excited by the prospects for this partnership. The first of Sean's articles (his review of the Canon EOS-5D at has just appeared, with others to follow soon.

In the meantime, do go and check out I'm very confident in saying that a subscription there will prove to be a solid investment for any serious photographer, amateur or professional alike.

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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: Zoom Lenses 101

As we were coaxing a Canon zoom out to full telephoto the other day, it occurred to us that after 175 issues, we'd never discussed the basic concepts behind zoom lenses. We refer to them all the time, but we never explain them.

There's nothing really simple about lenses. They seem like magic because you can't explain them without pulling a rabbit out of your hat. Our hat has been otherwise occupied.

But recently, we had the inspiring pleasure of listening to U.C. Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko ( twice in one day. He was lecturing on the origins of the universe, how it constantly expands and a few other tidbits. After hearing him twice without grasping anything, we were sure we'd proven his theory that the sum of energy spent and exhausted in the universe approaches zero.

But when he started discussing photons, we had a flash of inspiration. Those poor photons "ionize clouds of gas, and the resulting emission lines provide clues to the structure and nature of the central engine" of the universe, he enthused. By the end he had convinced us that every fiber of our being was nothing more than star dust. Magic, in short, can be explained.

So here we go.

Lenses are photon gathering machines. Impervious to dust, sealed up tight. How anything gets through a lens is a mystery in itself. But photons, the polite name for light, do pass through. Photons behave both as particles, exciting the light-sensitive cells of our digicam sensors, and as waves, arriving in different colors through our zoom lenses.

Faced with mystery and magic, we tend to label things. We have "focal lengths," for example, and even "apertures" to get a handle on how lenses embrace photons. Without focal lengths and apertures, all we really have is a pinhole. But what are focal lengths and apertures?

Focal Length. The definition of focal length is rather unmysterious: the distance between the rear nodal point of the lens (around the aperture, actually) and the plane where subjects at infinity come into focus. This distance isn't affected by what camera you mount the lens on. It casts exactly the same size image on a dSLR as an 8x10 view camera.

It turns out this is a convenient way to describe not so much the internal distance of your lens, but its angle of view. We talk about angles of view as falling within three groups: wide angle, normal and telephoto. And we usually measure these in 35mm equivalents, the focal lengths that we use in 35mm photography. For no better reason than everyone knows a 35mm frame is one and a half inches by one inch, whereas your digicam sensor can be all sorts of sizes.

So what's normal? Normal for a lens is defined as the focal length that's equal to the diagonal of the image format. Normal for a pair of human eyes is an angle of view between 50 and 55 degrees. That's our usual perspective, the scope of our vision. A 50mm lens is normal for 35mm because the diagonal of the format is nearly 50mm (42mm). But 2-1/4 format uses an 80mm lens to get normal. And a 150-165mm lens is normal for 4x5.

By definition, wide angle is any angle of view that takes in more than a normal angle of view, 65 degrees or more. And telephoto is any that takes in less, say 35 degrees or less. Leave the rest for normal. Again, the focal lengths depend on what format you're working with. Generally, wide angles run as wide as 24mm but not commonly more than 28mm in our 35mm standard and telephotos stretch from the 100s to nearly 400mm.

But it turns out wide angle focal lengths behave differently from telephoto ones in several important ways that photographers find fascinating. Wide angle lenses by their very nature include more of the scene than a normal lens, making everything smaller than a normal lens would. That means moving subjects don't move as far, so the image isn't nearly as blurry as it might be with a normal or telephoto lens.

And with a wide angle lens more planes of the subject can be in focus, which we call greater depth of field. Depth of field is simply a way to describe how many things closer and how many things further are in focus. With great depth of field, many are. With a narrow depth of field, only a few planes are.

Telephoto focal lengths greatly limit depth of field. They have to ship the photons they gather a much greater distance as they stretch out the lens barrel. And, as you might guess, camera and subject movement are magnified along with the image.

Focal length isn't the only factor that affects depth of field. At any focal length, opening the lens aperture will decrease depth of field and closing it will increase depth of field.

Aperture. What's an aperture? Just the diameter of the lens opening. We describe it as a fraction of its focal length. The ratio of two-inch lens to an aperture measuring half an inch would be described as 4/1 or (drum roll) f4.

So why does your zoom lens have two maximum apertures? As your zoom lens extends to longer focal lengths, fewer photons reach the sensor. This isn't much different from watching your flashlight's beam fail to illuminate distance objects but being sufficient to read by. The difference in fall-off is expressed as a smaller aperture. It's usually within one f-stop, but it's always smaller. You can't amplify light.

Got all that? Good, it won't be on the final. Your assignment is simple, though. Go out there and make some magic with your lens.

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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 Fujifilm FinePix S9000 Discussion at[email protected]@.eea12ab

Visit the Pentax Forum at[email protected]@.eea2980

A user asks about camera compression settings at[email protected]@.eea1ec0/0

A user asks about a camera with the least amount of delay between shots at[email protected]@.eea29fb/0

Visit the Panasonic Forum at[email protected]@.eea297f

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Just for Fun: A Wish Come True

We often wish we could have three wishes. Sometimes we'd even settle for just a lamp that needs polishing. Or a flashlight with fresh batteries. Or a match. Not yet struck, hopefully.

But one wish we kept wishing for a very long time was finally answered. And, forgetful as we are of our blessings, this weekend we were reminded of it.

In the Dark Ages of Film Photography, not everybody at the party had a camera. If you had a nice camera, you would find yourself (and your camera) invited to lots of parties. Of course, it was understood that you were expected to take pictures at these parties -- and get the prints distributed, too. It was, in short, a job. Unpaid, but work.

It was even a job at family occasions. And a big job. It wouldn't be long before you found that all you did at these things was shoot pictures, worried about missing a moment at one or another table or scheduled activity (yes, down to taking a picture of every present being opened). You wouldn't have a drink, you had no time to eat and, worst of all, you had to stick around to the end.

When it happened to us, we wished (more than three times) we could go to just one party without bringing our camera. You know, just to say hello. Ask how things were going. Trade memories of summer vacation with Grandma. Have one of those miniature hot dogs.

Eventually, with the dawn of the digital age, we got our wish. You can hardly go to a party these days without being surrounded by cameras. Everybody has one. Everybody has their own way of failing to archive their images and their pet inefficiencies for sharing. So we each take our own pictures.

Consequently we've very happily hung around the chips and dip, made friends with the bartender, complimented the waitress, stepped out on the dance floor for the slow songs and happily joined in standing ovations for the band.

But every now and then, we just can't help it. The Old Urge surges and we slip our digicam out of hiding and zoom in or out to the perfect composition, fiddling just enough to turn off the flash and change the EV setting maybe. Unobserved, we wait until just before the right moment and press that shy shutter button on our old but reliable Average digicam.

No, we can't help ourselves. We were reminded just why this weekend as we sat on some new outdoor furniture that promised nothing if not more family gatherings. We needed something to do besides sit, so we got a book. The very thinnest book we could find. A book of poetry -- with the shortest lines ever published and not many lines to a poem, either. The perfect thing for a photo shoot. Armed with Kay Ryan's The Niagra River, we struck our pose in an arm chair hoping some relative with a digicam would pass by.

To pass the time, we read her poem "Rubbing Lamps," in which she observes "something / so odd and / full of promise / for a minute / that you spend / your only wish / wishing someone else / could see it."

You can smile now. Because that's it. What we all do with a camera in our hands, the only magic lamp we'll ever hold. When we rub its case, hold our breath and snap that shutter we spend our one wish wishing someone else can see just what it is that so delights us for a moment.

Oh, I wish you could have seen us sitting there, the light bulb going off -- with the flash disabled!

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RE: Julieanne Kost

Well done for including such an article. She seems very cool.

It is good too see book coming out about the wider aspects of pictures. I would have liked to have seen some good-sized examples of her pictures. They looked promising.

Also, I am curious if she had trouble with the low-quality glass in airplane windows. I myself had not imagined even getting a usable shot through those, so I never tried. Aren't the pictures hopelessly soft?

-- Eolake Stobblehouse

I can't wait to read Julieanne's book -- it looks like it combines the fun of photography with one of my favorite pastimes of taking photos of the world from 25,000 feet up. Maybe Julieanne has pointers on making sure you're not stuck sitting on the wing (with no view)!

-- Shelley Olds

(We divulged as much as we could, sorry! But you won't be disappointed with the book. And the next time you fly, you won't be disappointed with your pictures, either! We certainly like ours. -- Editor)

RE: New Lenses

It seems to me that most of the 'new' lenses for DSLRs are basically reduced versions of older 35mm lens designs. We have the equivalent of 17-35 zooms, 28-200 or 300, etc. Is there any likelihood that designers will take advantage of the smaller 'format' and give us something really new? How about a (35mm equivalent) 20-150 f2.8?

My other observation? That 50mm f1.4 (that I never used) has become a very handy portrait lens on my D70.

-- Kurt Ingham

(The range of lenses for any format -- 135, 120, 4x5, 8x10 -- spans the same wide-angle to normal to telephoto equivalent focal lengths. Normal is just at a different focal length. Some formats can achieve focal lengths that are impractical in larger formats, but the affordable range is similar. What's reduced isn't the lens but the format. Digital cameras (with a few exceptions) don't capture the same real estate as the 135 format. They capture less area at the film plane. When we wrote our dSLR Focal Length Converter for the Dec. 10, 2004 issue we found that manufacturers tend to stick to a single focal length multiplier (Canon likes 1.6, Nikon 1.5). What we're seeing in the way of innovation are different light focusing tricks (Olympus) and image stabilization at wider zoom ranges with macro capability (Nikon). In the case of your the f1.4 50mm, you multiply its focal length by 1.5 to see it crops like a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera, although the perspective is the same on the D70. -- Editor)
(Once manufacturers get their lens lines filled-out with more compact versions of what was popular in the 35mm world, I think we'll start to see more innovative lenses of the kind you describe. -- Dave)

RE: Old Camera, New Lens

I've been playing with digital cameras now for a couple of years, principally using Olympus, Nikon and Minolta variants that are basically point-and-shoot. I still occasionally use my film cameras, an Olympus Stylus, an Olympus Infinity Superzoom 330. I can digitize the resulting slides (preferred) and negatives with my HP scanner.

I also have an old Minolta SRT 100, which I've had for 30-plus years. I haven't used it for a while and would like to start using it again. However, I don't have the long lens I need for what I want to do. I've recently noticed some reasonable prices on a Sigma 70-300 zoom, auto-focus for Minolta cameras and wonder if it can be used with the SRT 100. I presume that AF features may not work with the SRT 100. Comments?

-- George Harmeling

(The Sigma 70-300 does have a 35mm image circle, so it looks promising. Try it out in the store, though. -- Editor)
(The big problem might be awkward manual focus control. Modern AF lenses tend to have very loose focus mechanisms and relatively little travel in the elements, to accommodate wimpy focus-drive motors and help the camera focus more quickly. -- Dave)

RE: Slide Scanner?

I'm confused. I want to buy a film/slide scanner under $500. What is the difference between the Konica Dual Scan IV and the Elite II? What do you recommend? I'm a Mac user.

-- Gary Wexler

(While the IV is a capable scanner at a bargain price, take a look at our review of the Elite II ( to get a handle on the differences. They're huge. Higher resolution and better density range, in a word or two. If you can find the Elite II, grab it. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

What's up with Apple's Aperture ( Mac rumor site Think Secret published an item ( headlined "Apple future in question as Apple axes bulk of team." Then Apple released Aperture 1.1.1 to address "performance, stability, color correction and display compatibility." At the same time, Rob Galbraith, who has reported extensively on Aperture, addressed the product's status in an item ( quoting Apple's Kirk Paulsen, senior director of professional applications product marketing. According to the Paulsen, "Reports of Apple reducing its commitment to Aperture are totally false," Paulsen told Galbraith. "In fact, we've got more people working on Aperture right now than ever before." Then John Gruber at Daring Fireball published under the headline 'More Aperture Dirt' ( his discussion with one of the developers from the original Aperture engineering team. Gruber's source claims no one from the original team was fired but most did leave the project, moving on to other projects within Apple or other companies.

The Microsoft Future Pro Photographer Contest ( is aimed at college student photographers, with a grand prize that includes $20,000 cash and a digital prize package worth over $5,000. Besides an overall Grand Prize winner, there will also be individual winners in these categories: Nature & Landscape, People & Portraits and Fine Art. The deadline for entries is May 31 and the winner will be announced at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit held June 28 and 29.

Maha ( has announced its 2700 mAh NiMH AA rechargeable batteries, the highest yet from the company, available for $14.95 in a set of four with a plastic case.

Deke McClelland has released dekePod, a video podcast whose pilot episode "It's Your Money, Scan It!" ( shows viewers a workaround in Photoshop to scan and open money (legal in the U.S. under the specific guidelines ( Deke is the host of this educational, zippy, sometimes laugh-out-loud show.

Scott Kelby's $69.99 Photoshop for Digital Photographers ( is an online course for digital photographers, showing how to color correct, sharpen, fix and finish digital photos at your own pace.

In Software Cinema's latest $59 Product-On Disc interactive training DVD (, photo digital artist Jane Conner-ziser shows how to transform poor quality or average shots into exquisite works-of-art using Photoshop Elements.

Andrew Darlow, formerly editorial director at Digital Imaging Techniques magazine, has launched The Imaging Buffet (, "a delicious blend of imaging tips, interviews and product reviews."

Master Colors ( has announced the introduction of Nirvana -- 6 Lessons to Color Enlightenment, a free, online, downloadable color seminar. This seminar is presented in six individual step-by-step lessons.

Adobe ( has released an update to DNG Converter and Camera Raw Plug-in. New cameras supported by the updates include Canon EOS 30D, Epson R-D1s, Leaf Aptus 65 and Aptus 75, Olympus EVOLT E-330 and SP-320, Pentax *ist-DL2 and Samsung GX-1S.

ACD ( has announced updates to its two flagship products, ACDSee 8 Photo Manager and ACDSee Pro Photo Manager. The enhancements are designed to improve speed, performance and productivity and include advanced support for Raw formats that meet and exceed industry demands.

Boinx Software ( and The Digital Story ( are teaming up to help you master the art of authoring the perfect slide show, which you can then share with the world. Through the month of May, Derrick Story will be providing tips for building your show, adding audio, making titles and fine-tuning your presentation, so you’re ready to enter the FotoMagico Slide Show Showcase.

Michael Cohen, a scientist at Microsoft Research, is trying to create a photo this summer that will contain 10 billion pixels. He's already done 4-gigapixel shots of downtown Seattle, which required shooting over 800 photos taken in an hour and a half. The lighting and different exposure conditions were neutralized so that it looks like the entire image was captured at a single moment. "With a 10-megapixel camera, a 10-gigapixel picture takes at least 1,000 pictures," he noted. The camera sits in a motorized rig and the angle of the rig and camera are controlled by a computer.

Fisher-Price ( has announced its Kid-Tough digital camera with a two-eye viewfinder (so kids can keep both eyes open), sturdy hand grips, a color LCD preview, storage for 60 images plus a memory card slot, simple controls with big buttons and a choice of blue or pink bodies.

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Happy snapping!

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