|Volume 9, Number 9||27 April 2007|
Welcome to the 200th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. But who's counting? We celebrate in the usual way, with a revealing look at Canon's Picture Styles, a review of a great digicam for natural light shots, followed by a nostalgic piece on repairing your own gear. A couple of sighs and we'll be ready for the 201st issue. You, too, we hope!
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
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].
No one will ever accuse us of having style, but we know where to get it when we need it. Canon's Picture Style page (http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/picturestyle) is the Men's Wearhouse of photographic style.
Canon says a Picture Style is "like selecting the best film for the subject's desired photographic expression." In fact, it's a collection of settings (and a bit more) that affect Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Color Tone, each of which can be adjusted from -4 to +4 in whole steps and given a name.
A lot of cameras offer adjustments for those parameters, of course, but Canon groups them together into a style that's easy to apply and even to modify a bit.
Some Canon EOS cameras, like the Rebel XTi, come with a set of Picture Styles that even includes three user definable styles. You can pick among the preset styles or create your own or even download styles from the Canon Picture Style site for transfer to your camera.
But Canon's Digital Photo Professional image editing software can apply Picture Styles to Raw images, even from earlier EOS cameras that don't include the feature.
There are six basic styles, whose effects are subtle, but appealing. Default settings for Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Color Tone appear in brackets following each description:
- Standard. This is the default color style for EOS cameras with sharpness and vivid color designed for a wide range of subjects. Varies by model. Higher contrast, high saturation [3,0,0,0].
- Portrait. This setting reduces sharpness and enhances skin color for women and children with heightened contrast so it seems to glow. Higher contrast, medium saturation [2,0,0,0].
- Landscape. Vivid color to enhance blue skies and high sharpness to hold small detail characterize this style. Higher contrast, high saturation [4,0,0,0].
- Neutral. If you prefer to manipulate an image in software later, this style sets the saturation and contrast to low levels, leaving rich detail with the greatest latitude for image editing. Medium contrast, low saturation [0,0,0,0].
- Faithful. With lower settings for saturation and contrast, the most accurate reproduction of color and detail is the goal of this style. Colors are nearly identical to the actual colors of a subject shot under 5200K light. Medium contrast, low saturation [0,0,0,0].
- Monochrome. This style discards color data except when you set one of its filters (Yellow, Orange, Red, Green) to modify the effect. Higher contrast, low saturation with filter effects [3,0].
In addition to creating your own User Defined Picture Styles, you can download Picture Styles to install in your camera or use with Canon's Digital Photo Professional software. Styles are available on the Canon site (http://web.canon.jp/Imaging/picturestyle/file), where you can study examples shot with each style. A recent visit revealed:
Canon warns that these are not general purpose styles, but configurations for specific subjects. Used to shoot casual scenes, "they may cause unnatural images to be generated."
- Nostalgia. Reduced color and contrast for a "distant, quiet feel."
- Clear. Designed to cut through haze and restore color to subjects behind glass, this style increases contrast, color and sharpness.
- Twilight. Adds a purple cast to dawn and twilight skies "for surreal expression."
- Emerald. An alternative Landscape Picture Style, this style emphasizes blue for sky and water. Recommended for aquariums, too.
- Autumn Hues. Another Landscape alternative, this style emphasizes yellows but lowers the brilliance of reds.
Depending on which version of Digital Photo Professional you use, you can select either the .pf2 or .pse version of these Picture Styles. The .pf2 version is the latest with .pse versions supporting earlier versions of the software. You'll also want to make sure to download the version tailored for your operating system, Windows or Mac.
The four parameters of a Picture Style are actually stored in the Exif header of the image. A quick look at the Exif header of a Canon Digital Rebel XTi JPEG shot with the Standard Picture Style reveals the following settings:
That's what makes it possible to alter the style in Canon image editing software -- and to apply it to Raw images taken with earlier EOS cameras.
- PictureStyle: Standard
- Sharpness: +3
- Contrast: Normal
- Saturation: Normal
- ColorTone: Normal
Images shot with an EOS-1D series camera are set, by default, to Neutral.
Images shot with an EOS10D/D60/D30 and EOS 20D/20Da in Creative zone modes are set to Standard but with contrast and saturation settings one level lower than if the images had been shot with a camera using this style.
Images shot with a Digital Rebel and EOS 300/350D in Creative zone model are also set to Standard but with the same values as if shot by later EOS cameras using Standard.
You can apply any of the styles to an image in Digital Photo Professional.
Wait, there's more.
EMULATING PRIOR EOS CAMERAS
You can mimic the characteristics of prior EOS digital cameras using custom styles and a color space setting.
EOS-1D/1Ds Color Matrix 1 can be emulated with Neutral [0,0,0,0] and sRGB. Color Matrix 2 can be emulated with Neutral but Color Tone set at -2 [0,0,0,-2] and sRGB. Color Matrix 3 can be emulated with Neutral but Saturation set at 2 [0,0,2,0] and sRGB. Color Matrix 4 can be emulated with Neutral [0,0,0,0] and Adobe RGB. Color Matrix 5 can be emulated with Neutral but Saturation set at -2 [0,0,-2,0] and sRGB. Sharpness should be 0 on the 1Ds.
EOS-1D/1Ds Mark II Standard can be emulated with Neutral [0,0,0,0] and sRGB. Portrait can be emulated with Neutral but Color Tone set at -2 [0,0,0,-2] and sRGB. High Saturation can be emulated with Neutral but Saturation set at 2 [0,0,2,0] and sRGB. Adobe RGB can be emulated with Neutral [0,0,0,0] and Adobe RGB. Low Saturation can be emulated with Neutral but Saturation set at -2 [0,0,-2,0] and sRGB. Sharpness and Contrast should be 0 on the 1Ds.
EOS 20D/20Da, Digital Rebel/EOS 300D, Digital Rebel XT/350D Parameter 1 can be emulated with Standard but Sharpness set at 3 [3,0,0,0] and sRGB. Parameter 1 can be emulated with Standard but Sharpness set at 2, Contrast at -1, Saturation at -1 [2,-1,-1,0] and sRGB. Sharpness and Contrast should be 0 on the XT/350D.
EOS 10D/D30/D60 can be emulated with Standard but Sharpness set at 2, Contrast at -1, Saturation at -1 [2,-1,-1,0] and sRGB. On the D60, color space should be sRGB but all settings at 0.
Apart from interpreting a scene creatively, Photo Styles are ideal for prepping images you know will be printed directly from the camera via PictBridge, say. Just by setting a Sharpness value and perhaps increasing Contrast, you can optimize the image for direct printing.
Of course, you can also apply Picture Styles in software prior to printing for a special effect.
ONE LITTLE CATCH
As much fun as it is to play with Picture Styles, we were a little puzzled how, for example, Neutral and Faithful could have the same Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Color Tone settings and yet deliver different results.
So we asked Chuck Westfall, Canon Director Of Media & Customer Relationships, and he explained there's a bit more going on than meets the eye.
"There is more involved in Canon's Picture Style concept than simple adjustments of contrast, sharpness, saturation and color tone," he confirmed. "Although the precise details are confidential, differences between individual Picture Styles also exist in terms of tone curve manipulations within individual color channels. Using these methods, it's possible to emphasize specific hues and color ranges for a particular effect."
Unlike many settings on your camera, Photo Styles are not so much tweaks for getting an accurate rendering of what you see so much as an expression of your creative genius. In its wisdom, Canon has made Picture Styles accessible so you can tweak any of them to your preferences. They invite play and make picture taking even more fun. Who knows, maybe you can see the world through rose colored glasses. There's probably a Picture Style just for that.
(Excerpted from the full review posted at https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9100/S9100A.HTM on the Web site.)
Fujifilm still insists that silver halide delivers the highest quality image, so it isn't a surprise that the company hasn't abandoned what it calls its "serious" line of digicams instead of developing an affordable dSLR. The Serious cameras complement the point-and-shoot Sensible digicams, the subcompact Smart digicams, the Stylish ultracompacts and the Sophisticated E900.
And they distinguish themselves from all the others by looking like, well, a camera. The S9100 is an all-in-one digicam, not a dSLR. As such, it has a live, articulated 2.0-inch LCD and Movie mode. But it has the feel of a small dSLR from the way you grip it to how you operate the zoom. It's an engaging design with all the control you expect from its hearty appearance.
Since you can't change the lens, Fujifilm gives you one great one, ranging from 28 to 300mm in 35mm equivalent with a Super Macro setting that focuses as close as 0.4 inches from the front element at wide-angle. At 28mm it's a pretty fast lens, too, opening up to f2.8. Even at 300mm, it manages f4.9.
And what that lens sees is captured on a Super CCD sensor with 9.0 effective megapixels and sensitivity ranging from ISO 80 to 1600.
Fujifilm takes flash seriously, too, offering a hotshoe and PC sync terminal for external flash and building in its intelligent flash system that can adjust flash power depending on focus data.
But what sold us on this unit was its natural light performance. On the Mode dial there's a Natural Light setting that adjusts ISO without tapping into flash to capture whatever light falls on your scene. The gallery shots give you an idea what we were able to do, but not the whole picture. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/4 to 1/4000 second and ISO topped out at a very usable 800. We don't know how it did it without image stabilization, but our shots were pretty sharp.
There is an Anti-shake mode, but it simply chooses a higher shutter speed. Maybe the secret is in just how easy it is to handle the S9100.
This responsive and flexible camera will be treasured by photo buffs, but it won't intimidate people new to the game who want a camera that can take those great pictures they see others getting.
The popularity of the flat, compact digicam with the compact lens and the quickly dropping prices of entry-level dSLRs has squeezed the EVF digicam nearly out of the market. They aren't as inexpensive as a subcompact nor quite as good (with their smaller sensors) as a dSLR, but Fujifilm continues to add value to this species. EVF cameras do offer more engaging operation than a subcompact. They also deliver a live LCD, a live histogram and a Movie mode, something missing on most dSLRs.
One secret to its low light performance may be its weight. It feels light, but it's actually 1.75 pounds; heavy in the prosumer/long zoom category. But that weight is meant to be handled by both hands. Your right hand grips the battery chamber and your left composes the image by turning the zoom ring on the lens.
To follow the action, you have your choice of using the EVF like a dSLR or the articulated 2-inch LCD with 235,000 pixels for excellent detail. The LCD can flip up, locking into a 90 degree up-angle; then it pulls out, providing a 45 degree upward angle and finally flips back, providing a 45 degree downward angle for easier overhead shots.
When you power the S9100 on, you select Record or Playback mode. So you only have to select your shooting mode from the Mode dial. Movie and several Scene modes are there, as you might expect, but so are Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Programmed Auto and Auto. Two Scene modes are worth pointing out: Anti-shake and Natural Light, which we'll talk about shortly.
Controls are mostly button-based, with Exposure Compensation, Flash modes and Drive settings near the Mode dial on top and EVF/LCD, Exposure Lock, Magnify, Menu, FinePix, Display/Back buttons on the back and a third set of buttons on the side by the lens that control Info display, Focus options and Macro modes. The triple grouping makes sense and avoids trips to the LCD menu, as well as repetitive scrolling; though it does seem a little odd to have the Info button on the left side of the camera instead of next to the LCD.
The S9100 also has two card slots. One for xD Picture Cards and another for CompactFlash. You can set the slot you want to use first if you populate both, otherwise the camera uses the slot you've put a card in.
Display/Viewfinder. The S9100 gives you two viewfinder options. You can elect to use the electronic viewfinder, a necessity for any long zoom where at telephoto focal lengths the optical display would be too dim to see clearly. If you do, you can adjust its focus with the dioptric adjustment so you can use it with your glasses.
Though its only slightly larger than the S9000, what's best about the 2.0-inch LCD is its higher resolution. It's hinged to the camera back so you can compose your image easily even if you hold the camera above your head or below your belt. We took advantage of this on almost every shot, slightly moving the LCD away from the S9100's back and flipping it all the way out.
Performance. Both power-on and shutdown were quick and convenient enough that we didn't bother to let the S9100 time out. We just flicked it on or off. No lens has to extend, no logo splashes on the LCD, the S9100 just snaps into action. It's how all cameras should act.
You can't have a better zoom mechanism. You simply twist the large knurled ring on the front of the lens. It's smooth, not stepped and you have complete control. Why aren't all zooms like this?
Once you've picked a shooting mode, you can adjust whatever is adjustable about it with the adjacent command wheel. In Shutter Priority, you just spin the wheel to set a different shutter speed. In Aperture Priority, spin the wheel for a different aperture. In Manual mode, where you have to adjust both, the wheel handles shutter speed and holding the Exposure Compensation button down while spinning the wheel adjusts aperture. The wheel's a little stiff, but at this price you can't complain.
Shutter lag seemed non-existent and shot-to-shot time was snappy, too. Just as they should be on any camera.
And you do have two interesting Continuous shooting choices for capture that record the first four or last four images in a sequence at a 1.5 fps clip.
Image quality was a mixed bag, unfortunately. Most of the shots we took were a pleasure to review both on the LCD and later on the computer. But the S9100 has a tendency to lose highlight detail in shots taken in full sunlight. If you're shooting in full sun, use Exposure Compensation to protect your highlights. Turn on the live histogram display to see what's going on.
But for shots taken in the shade, images were just gorgeous, with good detail and smooth tonality. If they gave awards for histograms, the S91000 would have a shelf of trophies. Color was true and natural, avoiding the oversaturation so common on digicams.
Another cure for blown highlights is to shoot in the S9100's Raw mode, creating an 18.93M RAF file (which converts to a compressed but lossless DNG of about 12.4-MB or less). We didn't have any trouble viewing the RAF file format thumbnails in iView MediaPro and Adobe Camera Raw handled them easily, too. We were able to recover highlight detail easily when we shot Raw. You don't often see Raw capture as an option in a digicam (even less so these days), so outright prolonged applause to Fujifilm for putting it in the S9100. It's another illustration of how far the S9100 can take your photography.
A real surprise was the Natural Light mode. We took a number of shots in the de Young museum where we've shot with many cameras before. But this time we got results we could print at 13x19. More on that below.
And just as surprising was the intelligent flash. We tried to blow out a self-portrait, shooting in Macro with the flash at arms length and the S9100 just wouldn't do it. It lit up this old mug naturally, while capturing the background as well. Not blowing out foreground subjects is something every flash should know how to do, but the S9100, using focus data, is smart enough to do it.
The S9100's Movie mode records MPEG with audio in an AVI format at either 640x480 or 320x240 pixel resolution, both at 30 fps. And you can zoom (silently since no motor is involved) while filming. You start recording by fully depressing the Shutter button, as on most cameras. But to stop recording, you only half depress it. That's a little confusing.
The S9100 uses four AA batteries. We used 2300 mAh NiMH rechargeables and never drained them in one shoot.
Shooting. Of all the possible shapes a digital camera can take, this is the one we prefer. It's larger, yet it isn't so large you'll have to pack it around in its own luggage, like many dSLRs. You can just hang it on your shoulder where it will be ready for action when you are. Or use a wrist strap to keep it handy.
The real pleasure of this shape is when you get your hand around the grip and your fingers on the zoom ring. You're engaged. You're part of the camera. There's nothing like it.
With a 10.7x zoom that starts at 28mm, you've got quite a range to play with. Our wide angle zoom range shot takes in quite a bit more of the stone wall than usual. You can double the zoom range by pressing the Up arrow to engage digital zoom. Pressing the Down arrow cancels it.
Inspired by that generous zoom range, we took the S9100 on several excursions, both outdoors and indoors. Interestingly, the outdoor shots were almost all captured at ISO 80 and the indoor shots (without flash) at ISO 800. And to do that in Programmed Auto and Auto modes, the aperture was set as wide open as the focal length permitted. That resulted in images that were a bit softer than they might have been, unfortunately. To be fair, we recalibrated our expectations by viewing the Panasonic Lumix FZ50's high resolution images. That Leica lens, with Panasonic's edge enhancement on its 10-megapixel images, really didn't do any better.
Let's take a look at what a few of our favorite images from those shoots tell us about the S9100.
We had to reshoot our usual zoom range images because it simply didn't occur to us that a mechanical zoom ring could have digital zoom, too. Obviously, we didn't have the pleasure of reviewing the S9000 a year ago.
We don't bring a tripod with us when we shoot those images, but we do have a nice sturdy post abandoned by a malfunctioning scope. So these images profit from not being handheld. The range from 28mm to 600mm is astounding. Forgive the haze in the image at that distance. Instead, compare the shot of the worker on Sutro Tower shot at the full optical/digital zoom of 600mm. The S9100 does digital zoom very well -- without dropping the image size, either.
Handheld, full optical zoom was a lot of fun, too, especially when Anti-shake mode was employed as a little insurance. Our shot of City Hall's dome was really impossible to frame. We led the image as if the dome were a duck taking flight. At f7.1, it's as sharp as the S9100 gets, which isn't bad.
But that's stunt photography. What really won us over was going indoors and shooting natural light scenes that most cameras just can't touch.
The first such shot you'll see in the gallery is a pair of salt and pepper shakers beyond a pair of glasses. There's some blooming on the silver shaker tops and a very shallow depth of field (the glasses in the foreground aren't really in focus) but the image represents the scene perfectly in tone and color.
That was very exciting but even more impressive were the shots we got at the de Young museum. It seems the lighting in the new de Young is a good bit lower than it was in the old museum. Great for the paintings but tough for photographers. The rules state that you can take shots of the permanent collection but you can't use flash or a tripod. In fact, the day we were there, we walked past a sentry post that had a very nice tripod resting on top of it along with a Nikon lens cap and a polarizing filter. Abandon all gear, ye who enter here.
So what's a person to do? Well, many cameras offer a Scene mode designed for low light situations. The flash is disabled, ISO is raised and, if you're lucky, some minimum handheld shutter speed is enforced. There are other strategies, too, like Nikon's BSS mode, which takes several shots and saves the image with the most detail. But none of these works reliably in museum settings.
So we've been taking digicams into the museums here since 1998 trying to get good shots of our favorite paintings. Once in a while we exhale at the right time and get a reasonably sharp image. But for the most part, we're reduced to printing these at very small sizes (4x6 and smaller).
The gallery shows only a glimpse of what can be done with the S9100 in a museum. We used the Natural Light scene mode, which set shutter speeds as low as 1/4 and typically 1/40 second and under. Hardly the 1/60 second handheld standard. ISO was punched up to 800, introducing some noise (as you can see in our Test Results section below).
We were able to print these images (and that includes reproductions of paintings) at 13x19. We did run them through Imagenomic's Noiseware plug-in to mute the noise, but these prints were the best we've gotten from a digicam in those conditions.
Finally, we took a few macro shots. Macro is one of digital photography's biggest bonuses and the S9100 didn't disappoint. Here you see a shot of a rusty latch and another of some European currency, both shot in Super Macro mode, which lets you sneak the lens within half an inch of the subject at wide-angle -- with the dramatic distortion that focal length provides.
Curiosity got the better of us and, even though we're no fan of on-camera flash, we tried a few tests of the i-Flash intelligent flash system. i-Flash, which uses focus data to avoid burning out a foreground subject, surprised us. It worked very well, producing results superior to the typical flash shot on a compact digicam. If you have to shoot flash a lot and are unhappy with what you're getting now, this is a step up.
A further step up, of course, is moving the flash off the camera, even though TTL flash metering isn't active. The S9100 gives you two ways to do that. You can use the hot shoe to mount a sensor attached to an external flash (or simply mount an external flash to the shoe). You can connect an external flash with the PC sync cord. Either approach lets you move the light off the camera.
We had a lot of fun shooting with the S9100. All it lacks is optical image stabilization. That may seem like a big omission these days, but the S9100 does surprisingly well without it, capturing usable images with a handheld shutter speed as low as 1/5 second. The lack of optical image stabilization does make the S9100 a very affordable long zoom and it won't disappoint anyone who wants to learn how to take great pictures. All the controls are there, most of them just a button away.
We needed Exposure Compensation to hang on to our highlight detail in full sun, but otherwise, Programmed Auto and Auto mode delivered natural color that was not oversaturated. Most impressive was Natural Light mode, which made it possible to get some great shots of a few favorite canvases at the local museum. Also worth noting is the intelligent flash, which performed much better than most digicam flash guns.
Not much has changed since Dave recommended the S9000 as "a great choice for enthusiast photographers on a budget." The S9100 remains a Dave's Pick for its excellent build, smooth operation, rich feature set and great price. With a larger LCD, iFlash and improved image processing, the S9100 just improves on a real winner that can bring home great pictures.
At https://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Casio EXILIM EX-S770 (https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXS770/EXS770A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Casio EXILIM EX-Z700 (https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXZ700/EXZ700A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot A550 (https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A550/A550A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Fujifilm FinePix S9100 (https://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9100/S9100A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot Station CSS-HD1 (https://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/CSS/HD1.htm)
- Reviewed: Ultimate Light Box (https://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/ULB/ULB.HTM)
Our sidekick for trade show coverage is a gem from the last century, a Nikon 990 swivel camera. It takes great pictures for the Web but we especially like it because it tends to lead to some interesting conversations.
ISO is limited to a noise-free 400, image size a convenient 3-Mp, zoom range enhanced by some handy converter lenses and we can shift into a Shutter priority mode with ISO 400 and a custom white balance setting with flash disabled at the flick of a switch. Heaven on the road.
It does have its Achilles heel, though. The battery compartment latches. They're three small plastic boxes at the end of the battery holder cylinders that are intended to receive some fingers from the spring-loaded cover.
Drop the camera and the tension is enough to pop the cover and break the hinges. But there's another issue. The AA batteries the 990 uses are not all standard sizes. NiMH rechargeables can be a bit longer or fatter and older batteries can start to swell, all adding to the pressure on the latches.
No, it's not a good design. A better idea would have been, as some have done, a pin or lip to the magnesium body that the cover fingers could slip under. That wouldn't break or bend. It seems that even with careful closing and opening of the cover (by holding it down as you slide its fingers in or out), the latches eventually break.
A repair by Nikon (the sensible thing to do) is around $200. But we found you can also order the $14 part from Nikon and, with a little patience, do the repair yourself. We thought you'd find it amusing to watch us work for a change, so we'll recount the tale.
There are, incidentally, some alternatives to a repair that do not involve duct tape.
Apart from the mythical battery pack, we preferred to do the repair ourselves. We wouldn't be so confident about dissembling a sub-compact digicam (which makes about half as much sense as taking a mechanical watch apart). But our old friend is uncompact enough we thought we could manage. And we got no little help from Robert Ruffin's illustrated step-by-step instructions at http://r.ruffin.home.att.net/cp990/CP990BatteryDoorLatchRepair.html. Seeing what's under the hood before you pop it open is invaluable. And being able to double check what you're seeing as you work is even more important.
- One is a quick release pad from a tripod. Theoretically, if the pad is large enough, screwing it into the tripod mount will keep the battery cover closed and provide enough contact, too. Not, however, in our experience.
- The other is using the power adapter. Who needs batteries? You could probably build a belt-mounted battery pack with parts from Radio Shack.
- If the latches are still there but just loose, you can sometimes relieve a little tension by compressing the terminals at the bottom of the battery compartment.
Robert's help started with the number to call at Nikon's parts facility: (310) 414-8107. It's now in El Segundo, not Torrance, Calif. A nice woman answered and took our order for a Battery Compartment A (Part Number 636-057-4335). That's the piece with the two furthermost latches. Battery Compartment B was fine on our camera.
She told us it would take a few days and a $40 hold would be put on our credit card until actual UPS shipping charges were calculated. But the $14 part plus shipping would run about $22, she thought. Buy two if you plan to drop the camera again <g>.
Monday of the following week, UPS dropped off the part. And that's all that was in the box, too. No instructions.
You do need some tiny screw drivers. We used a jeweler's set, but an eyeglass repair kit works, too. That's really all you do need, but we also availed ourselves of tweezers (to hold the screws), a pipe cleaner (to catch two precariously perched screws), a scratcher (a pen knife would do to lift some plastic tabs and the battery backup), a single edge razor blade (to keep the adhesive with the battery when we removed it) and a soldering iron (one of the delicate wires to the backup battery became detached).
Taking the camera apart is more than half the battle.
You have to remove five screws from the grip half of the camera. And they're all on the bulge half of the grip, one hidden under the Video Out flap.
We set up a piece of tape on our bench to grab and hold the screws in the relative position they go back into the camera. So we know exactly which screw came from where. And that's where it goes back. This saves screwing around with screws. There are small differences between the eight screws you have to remove and they aren't immediately apparent. This trick guarantees you won't confuse them.
With the screws removed, you can gradually wiggle the bulge half loose. Don't pull it away from the bottom because there's a ribbon cable attached to the Mode switch that you don't want to break. It works free if you're patient. Then open the bulge like a book and put the Mode switch down, so you'll have plenty of room to work.
There are two screws on the bottom of the battery compartment that go through a circuit board (you have to move the cover to get a clear shot at them) and one screw near the top that goes through a metal frame. Remove them and place them on the tape.
The next trick is to get the backup battery off the battery compartment. It's attached by an adhesive. This is where our scratcher was helpful, but a pen knife or single edge razor blade can also do the trick. Just keep the battery flat (don't crease it) and slide your cutting edge under it until it lifts free.
The black and red wires are very delicate and the soldering joints are very fragile, too. We had to resolder our red connection after it broke off but that just made us feel electronically gifted. Try to bend the wires gently so the battery stays out of the way.
Now the hard part: getting that plastic battery compartment out. It has three snap locks. One is near the battery, the other two are along the edge closest to the side off the camera. They all have to be popped loose. There's also a pin at the bottom of the battery compartment that sits in the circuit board the two screws came out of. And just to make things even more aggravating, there's a beveled edge where the compartments attach under the two snap locks. You sort of have to twist the battery compartment out. Take your time, wiggle and pry toward the center of the camera and all of a sudden the broken compartment will come free.
The replacement part should snap in but watch out for the beveled edge and the pin. Get those two things right and you should just have to snap in the lock near the battery to seat the new part. All the screw holes should line up.
After you've screwed in the battery compartment's three screws, reattach the backup battery. We didn't need to add any adhesive, but if you do, use anything handy. Robert recommends clear silicone tub and tile adhesive for some reason. Make sure you run the thin black and red wires over the slot on the circuit board cut just for them.
You might want to reduce the tension on the contacts at the bottom of the battery compartments by compressing them a bit. If the top of the batteries (not counting the nipples) are flush with the top openings in the compartment, you're OK.
As you replace the bulge shell, make sure you have the rubber power adapter cover in place. Secure the fit all around the edges, especially around the LCD, before slipping the five screws back into place.
To test the repair, drop in a set of AAs in the camera, noting how far they protrude from the chambers and then close the door completely, holding it shut, before sliding it into the locked position. If you keep pressure on the door as you slide the lock in or out, you'll extend the life of the latches. If you think there's too much pressure, when you close the door, adjust the springs at the bottom of the chambers.
If your backup battery became disconnected and needed some solder, you'll have to reset the time and date. Otherwise, it should be business as usual. To test the backup battery if you had to resolder it, just pop out the batteries and reinsert them. If the date stayed the same, you did it right.
Not every repair is as approachable as this, but sometimes you can get lucky even in your misfortune.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee92fbe
Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2a8
Barbara asks about high megapixels versus high optical zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea54e7/0
A user asks about imprinting the date on images at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea538b/0
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b8
The highlight of this publication's first two issues in 1999 was Dave's review of Kodak's Picture CD technology. Dave scratched together the first three issues all by himself, in fact, before he enticed us to whitewash this fence. All those gems are still in the archive (https://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html), BTW.
Just to show how far we've all come since 1999, we thought we'd revisit that first review. A lot's changed, but a few things haven't. Even in Volume 1, Number 1, this newsletter was about making it easy to have fun with digital imaging. Here's that review again:
An interesting technology: Stay tuned for more! Some folks view us as mainly a digital camera site, but our overall mission is simply to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved in digital photography, and have the best possible experience once they get there. Thus, we're very excited by a relatively new product in the digital imaging arena that lets users experiment with digital photography easily and relatively inexpensively, without plunking down hundreds of dollars for a digital camera.
Kodak recently introduced a photofinishing product called PictureCD, which is now available through most outlets offering Kodak's film processing services. Some other companies have announced similar services, but Kodak's tremendous "reach" in the US market makes their product by far the most widely available. Picture CD basically provides reasonably high-resolution digital scans of all the images on a roll of film, at an affordable price. You order the Picture CD when you drop off your film at the photofinishing outlet, and pick up the finished CD when you get your prints and negatives back a few days later. The image quality is good enough to print images as large as 8x10, and the CD itself comes with useful (and free) software applications in addition to the image files themselves.
For less than $10 in most parts of the US, you can get 24 fairly high- resolution scans (1536x1024 pixels) of your photos, and enough software to begin playing with (er... "using") your photo files immediately.
We think this is an exceptionally important development in consumer imaging, because it "lowers the bar" for digital photography, so that literally anyone with a computer made in the last three years or so can experience digital photography for less than $10! As this issue of the newsletter "goes to press", we've just dropped off a couple of rolls of test images at our local discount store, and plan a complete "review" of the resulting PictureCD product. We hope to have this ready by the time our next newsletter mailing date rolls around at the end of this month. But then, why wait for us to tell you what it's like? For the sake of $10 or so, try ordering a PictureCD when you get your next roll of film processed. - Hard to go wrong at that price! (One note: Make sure the photofinishing outlet understands that you want PICTURE CD, not PhotoCD. The latter is an older product that is less widely available, produces even higher-resolution files, but uses a special file format that isn't as universal as that employed by PictureCD.) Stay tuned!
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
You can email us at [email protected]. You can read our Letters policy at https://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: Canon FD Lenses?
I read with interest the letter last issue about using old Olympus lenses. Is there any way old Canon lenses, such as FD series lenses (manual focus), can be used on current Canon dSLRs?
-- Jeff Carter(Well, yes, but. The "but" part is: no autofocus, no auto aperture and you can't focus at infinity. Andrew Davidhzy (http://www.rit.edu/~andpph/text-eos-to-fd-adapter.html) at RIT made his own FD to EOS adapter, actually, and cites the Canon optical adapter and a third party adapter from Hama that does allow focus at infinity. -- Editor)
RE: Old Drive Failure
You gave the RoadStor a rave review so I bought one two years ago. I have enjoyed using it ever since, especially on trips. But it has ceased working, I don't know why! Once, it filled a disc but failed to tell me that there were more pictures still on the card and I should insert a new disc (so I lost the remaining photos). Another time it appeared to be burning but when I got home the disc was empty (I had saved that card!).
It seems that Micro Solutions has gone out of business. Have I any recourse or am I just our of luck now?
-- Mary Mutter(We wonder, Mary, if your unit is really dead. If you fill the CD, some models won't ask for a second disc. So that isn't really a failure. Use 512-MB cards or store less on your card to avoid that problem. You might try cleaning the interior with a soft brush or a puff of compressed air. That may be all it needs to read and write again. But test it with a smaller card. If your burner really is dead, a competent repair shop should be able to replace the drive mechanism (which is probably all that's required). You could even do it yourself with the right screwdrivers. -- Editor)
HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced its consumer printers worldwide will be introduced with multiple inkjet cartridge offerings which will offer low purchase prices to customers who print a little and lower cost-per-page to customers who print a lot. The new options will be color-coded as standard (blue) for low price, value (green) for high volume printing and specialty (red) for additional performance.
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released Aperture 1.5.3 to address issues related to overall reliability and performance in a number of areas, including: generation of thumbnails for adjusted images, entering and exiting Full Screen mode, working with large sets of keywords in the Keywords HUD and restoring from a vault.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has begun shipping its Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Standard editions and its Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and Standard editions. Also shipping are new versions of the following stand alone applications: Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, InDesign CS3, Illustrator CS3, Flash CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver CS3, Fireworks CS3 and Contribute CS3.
The company has also posted updates to Camera Raw and its free DNG Converter with support for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8. But if you are using Photoshop CS2, you should not install Camera Raw 4.0.
Houdah (http://www.houdah.com) has released HoudahGeo [M], a geocoding application that adds latitude, longitude and altitude information to the Exif header of an image. Data can be read from a GPS device's log or added manually via the program's integration with Google Maps. HoudahGeo can then export the information to Exif tags and Google Earth KML files. The company is offering an introductory price of $24.95, with a five dollar increase planned for the release of version 1.1 and a $34.95 price for 1.2 when available.
Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) has released its Wacom Tablet Driver 6.03-3 [M] for its professional tablets: the USB versions of all Intuos3, Intuos2, Intuos, CintiqPartner, Graphire2 (ET-0405A) and Graphire pen tablets and the Cintiq 21UX, 18SX, 15x and PL- 500 pen displays. It also released the Wacom Tablet Driver 5.03-3 for the consumer tablets: Graphire4, Graphire3, Graphire Bluetooth, Cintiq 17SX, DTU-710 and DTF-510. Both drivers now support the ability to pan and scroll a document by dragging the pen. Both drivers also now support concurrent installation and can be installed or removed independently of each other.
Ovolab (http://www.ovolab.com) has released Geophoto v1.1 [M], its $19.95 photo browser that organizes images by location. Highlights of the new version include Google Maps integration through a loupe, a tag cloud, plus many cosmetic and functional improvements.
Jobo (http://www.jobo.com) has released a firmware update for its Giga Vu Pro image storage and viewing device. Firmware update 2.0.4 includes the new J.D. loupe, incremental back-up and increased Raw format compatibility.
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: https://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
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:
Daily News: https://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: https://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: https://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: https://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: https://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher