Volume 10, Number 24 21 November 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 241st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. You've got a week to study our Gift Guides before Black Friday. The camera list even includes a few models whose reviews we've yet to publish. We also managed to squeeze in a review of a terrific DVD on strobe lighting produced by Nikon. That should brighten your day!

And thanks for everyone who visited to support our efforts. The response was, well, awesome. Thank you!


This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:

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Feature: Camera Gift Guide

This time of year the virtual water cooler freezes over into a miniature replica of the rink at Rockefeller Center and one or another of the staff can be found hanging desperately to its sides. While you might not think that puts anyone in a position to reflect on the year's camera reviews, you'd be surprised.

That's almost all we do around here. Reflect on reviews.

What camera to buy is, hands down (please!), the number one question we get. We are amused that our competitors caution against even asking them the question -- and certainly Dave and Shawn have no time for free advice. But we lead a more leisurely life here in the bunker and often do answer such queries. From subscribers, that is.

After all, your editor has written User Reports for 22 cameras this year alone. Not to mention scanners, printers and software. So we have some sense of what's going on, although it's surprisingly hard to name any favorites.

Our own experience being limited, we've tapped into the IR staff's recommendations to come up with this list of general recommendations in several meaningful categories quoting recent average prices.

When it comes time to buy, however, and you decide to buy online, please do us the favor of getting to your vendor via our Buy Now page ( The day they come to repossess the water cooler, we won't be able to do any more reflecting.


Nikon D3 ( -- The first Nikon that can stand with its film brethren, the D3 goes far beyond the film cameras, not only with its stunning capture rates and low light performance but simply because it's the most responsive camera we've ever used. $4,324

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III ( -- Long hailed by many as a rival to medium-format digital cameras for less money, the 1Ds is extremely popular in the professional portrait and fashion photography world. $7,145

Nikon D700 ( -- With the D3's sensor in a more compact, affordable package, the well-built D700 with superb features and a smart interface is adaptable to almost any kind of photography. $2,780

Canon 5D ( -- Still a winner in image quality. $2,074


Nikon D300 ( -- Nikon's D300 is easily one of the finest dSLR cameras on the market. Its 12.3-megapixel sensor delivers stunning images up to ISO 6400 and its 14-bit A/D conversion means you can get better quality in your JPEG and Raw images. $1,645

Canon 50D ( -- The 50D includes most of Canon's cutting-edge dSLR technology, delivering excellent low-light performance, impressive printed output, very fast shutter lag times, solid build, superb customization, 14-bit captures at 6.3 fps and excellent image quality. $1,253

Nikon D90 ( -- The Nikon D90 is an exceptionally well-rounded dSLR offering, with just about everything an aspiring photographer will need and quite a few of the advanced features found on the higher-priced dSLRs in Nikon's line. $1,234


Canon 450D Rebel XSi ( -- The Canon XSi's redesigned body is simple and handsome and the grip has a little more room for medium-sized hands. The real story is in the Canon Rebel XSi's image quality and there's plenty to tell. $717

Nikon D60 ( -- Like its predecessors, the Nikon D60 is so easy and fun to use, it's almost immediately become one of the most popular dSLRs on the market. A near-ideal model for those making the move to their first dSLR or for more advanced users looking for an attractively-priced second body with great image quality. $598

Olympus EVOLT E-520 ( -- Everything we liked about the E-510 but with three image stabilization modes, a larger LCD and revised screen-printed icons. $628


Panasonic G1 ( -- Panasonic's Lumix G1 is a quite elegant little interchangeable-lens digital camera with much of what made the L10 interesting, most of what makes an SLR more useful, plus most of what's great about the standard enthusiast digicam. $790


Canon SX10 IS ( -- Replacing the S5 IS, the SX10 is a bit larger (the body, the 1/2/3-inch CCD and 20x zoom) with the same nicely-integrated Movie mode and significantly improved high ISO performance. $373


Canon SX110 IS ( -- The Canon SX110IS's 10x optical zoom lens covers a broad range equivalent to 36-360mm on a 35mm camera -- a moderate wide-angle to a pretty substantial telephoto. The lens is also faster than many, with a maximum aperture ranging from f2.8 at the wide-angle end to f4.3 at the telephoto end of its range. $239

Panasonic TZ5 ( -- A very compact, image-stabilized 10x zoom that starts at 28mm, the TZ5 improves on the highly popular TZ3. $266


Canon G10 ( -- The G10 picks up where the company's previous flagship, the G9, left off. And that was at the top of this impressive heap. $469

Panasonic Lumix LX3 ( -- Compact with an improved grip, the LX3 distinguishes itself with a zoom that starts at just 24mm and stretches only to 60mm. And the quality of the images was an unqualified joy to behold. Which, in the end, is what really matters. $420

Nikon P6000 ( -- Perhaps the Coolpix P6000's most unusual feature is its built-in GPS. There's also built-in Ethernet, but it remains frustratingly slow to focus. $463


Canon A590 IS ( -- With an 8-Mp sensor, image-stabilized 4x zoom lens and 2.5 inch LCD, the A590IS is one of the standout bargains this holiday season. $142 (as low as $115)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 ( -- With a big lens and a stack of features, the Sony W170's Dynamic Range Optimization retains highlight and shadow detail. Sony's Face Detection is smarter, able to find smiles and differentiate between children and adults. $260


Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS ( -- Add optical image stabilization to the SD1000 and you get the SD1100 with better performance at night and indoors plus slightly better image quality. $182

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 ( -- It's not only beautiful (with a touchscreen that's fun to use), but it can hold a year's worth of pictures and -- with the optional HDTV cable -- display them in a scrapbook or a pan-and-zoom sideshow format in high resolution on your flatscreen HDTV. $380


The Canon PowerShot SD990 IS Digital ELPH ( -- The stylish new flagship uses a 1/1.7 inch CCD with 14.7 megapixels and a DIGIC 4 image processor. We haven't tested it yet, but if it's as good as the SD950, it will be a winner. $369

The Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Digital ELPH ( -- Updating the SD870 IS, the SD880 IS shrinks the shell but uses a larger 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor harnessed to a DIGIC 4 processor delivering excellent high-ISO capability for a compact model. $272


Pentax W60 ( -- Waterproof to 13 feet, freeze-proof to 14F, with a 5x zoom and great image quality. Fast too, with shutter lag approaching entry-level dSLR speeds, up to 3 fps at 5-Mp reduced resolution. And surprisingly good high-ISO shooting. $274

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Feature: Grab Bag Gift Bag

This time of year, we usually phone the ever-shrinking North Pole for a little advice from the pros on gift giving. But this year, the elves called us.

"Hey, buddy, howz it?" we heard.

"Just fine, just fine. But how are you guys? I mean with the world-wide financial crisis and global warming and ..."

"Sloooow dooown," they all laughed. I was on the speaker phone, apparently.

"What's so funny?" I asked, a bit miffed.

"Nothing, really," they snickered. "It's just that you've just explained why our Naughty List is so much longer this year. And that makes our Nice List a lot shorter. So we've actually had time to play with the toys and goodies this year instead of just make them."

"Yeah, I guess I never though of it that way. The Nice List must be really short this year."

"Oh, you have no idea," they chuckled. "We could take vacation now but we're all on standby in case anybody turns over a new leaf."

"Hmm, sounds to me like there might be some product shortages this year."

"Shop early," they giggled. "That's why we called you this year."

Indeed, with Black Friday only a week away and bargains (for U.S. shoppers anyway, thanks to the strength of the dollar), we had no time to waste. We sharpened our pencil and made a list of our own to share with you. Although some of the prices look more like tax deductions than gifts, we were delighted to see many items are less expensive this year than they were last.




A stocking stuffer memory card of the right type is always welcomed:





We buy our digital filters from 2filter (, which discounts high quality, multi-coated filters from Hoya and Tiffen and provides some bundles, too. Prices vary on the size of the filter.









This category really didn't introduce any new wrinkles this year as companies devoted their attention to refining their easily networked all-in-ones. We still like the HiTouch and HP 4x6 printers with a nod to Canon's SELPHY line as well, though.






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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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Book Bag: A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting

We recently spent a leisurely two and half hours (over several days, actually) watching A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting, a new DVD from Nikon School that can take you from a life of red-eye to painting with light.

That's a big jump but it didn't feel like it. By the time we got to the heights of using multiple strobes in the fast-fading light of dusk, we had no vertigo.

That's because Nikon has organized the subject material -- using strobes -- in two main sections. One is a tour of lighting fundamentals and the other is a handful of real world situations that put what you learn in the studio to work in the real world.

In the tutorial, National Geographic Traveler photographer Bob Krist explains the fundamentals of using artificial light, showing you how to evaluate the direction, color and quality of light.

He does that with a model and tethered shooting so you can see instantly what the effect of placing a light or bouncing it or adding color to it does to the scene. Your knowledge grows as he refines his approach to the shot, bit by bit.

And it really does grow. We can't remember a similar teaching aid in any format that quite so well explains what you can do with a strobe. Krist discusses the situation, pointing out the problem to be solved and shows just how simple it is to get great results.

By the time you get out in the field with photographer Joe McNally, nothing really surprises you. But McNally really puts those basics to work, first in a ballet school, then at a wedding and finally on location at the harbor where he handles several difficult shots. Each situation is a little more complex, but McNally discusses the issues clearly, shows how to use a strobe or reflector or sync mode or white balance adjustment to paint the image he wants with the light he has.

Both Bob and Joe are excellent companions on this lighting adventure, but the real star of the show is Nikon's Creative Lighting System.

First, it's wireless. With either the pop-up flash, a commander or a Nikon strobe, you can communicate with up to three groups of strobes (not three strobes, but three groups of them). And by communicate, we mean not only fire them but program them to adjust their output -- from your camera. So, for example, you can set Group A to be your main light, Group B to be a background fill and Group C to be a foreground highlight, adjusting each group individually without affecting the others.

Because the flash exposure is metered through the lens with Nikon's iTTL system, you can pop on a diffuser or move the flashes behind a panel without changing your exposure. In fact, the system encourages you to experiment with different effects to create an image that might have been just too much work otherwise. Our favorite example of this was McNally's last shot at the ballet school on an overcast day. He mounted a strobe outside the large studio window protected from the wet by a plastic sandwich bag, put an amber filter on it and shot inside the studio to create the effect of late afternoon sunlight.

Throughout the DVD, Krist and McNally identify the cameras, lenses and strobes they are using. And they use almost everything, not just the top end stuff. The D300 was used with its pop-up to control remote strobes, the D3 with a commander. Various lenses were used to control depth of field and angle of view. The SB-900 was used to focus the light on a couple of occasions, but the SB-800 and SB-600 also got plenty of use. McNally even found a use for Nikon's ring lights.

For $39.95 from the Nikon Mall (, this is a great textbook on strobe lighting. When we finished watching it, we didn't feel the need to buy more gear. Instead, we felt like grabbing our strobe and trying a few new tricks with it. High praise, indeed.

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In the Forums

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

Read about Olympus dSLRs at[email protected]@.eea6bcb

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

Vincent asks about cameras with a zoom option in video mode at[email protected]@.eeaa569/0

Ragav asks about Pro dSLR options under $1,000 at[email protected]@.eeaa772/0

Visit the Printers Forum at[email protected]@.ee6b2b8

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Dave's Deals

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

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

Support this Publication!

Visit the IR PriceGrabber Page twice a year!

Support this Publication!

Visit the Amazon from this link!

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Nomenclature

I suggest you be more specific with your wording on your request to trade favors. I tried, or maybe, did you the favor. But alas, you use the term merchant link and that is not a term on the PriceGrabber page. Did you mean sponsored links, or just compare prices, and then on a merchant, or what? I tried them all just to be safe that I am helping out.

-- Alvin Ginsburg

(Agreed, "merchant links" is a bit technical. When you compare prices, you'll see a list of merchants (like Buydig and 17th Street Photo). Clicking on those links pays our bills. -- Editor)

RE: Slides to DVD

I'm in the process of digitizing Kodachrome slides and have run into a problem I hope you can shed some light upon. When I load the scanned images into iPhoto they are sharp. When I create a slide show in iPhoto the images are sharp. When I burn the slide show to a DVD, the images become less sharp, almost like a soft focus. What am I doing wrong?

-- Stan

(The problem in general is one of resizing for TV. A QuickTime movie/iPhoto export may resize your originals to just 640x480 but even an iDVD resize will be no more than 720x480. iPhoto, displaying to your screen, doesn't have these limitations. You might try working with smaller, sharpened images in iPhoto to begin with (doing the resizing and sharpening manually, so to speak). Some people have had better luck doing the slide show entirely within iDVD (which is limited to 99 images and one transition). Alternately, Fotomagico ( can output a rather sophisticated presentation to any number of resolutions. And it's pretty clear about what it's doing, too. -- Editor)

RE: Scanner Q

Since the day I started going to public libraries (some time ago) I have felt the need for a special╩scanner to copy old articles from big newspaper collections, which are very difficult to work with because of their size and weight.

This special scanner should do the following: 1) be as thin as possible, 2) have a flat, removable cover to allow me to put my notebook on it, and 3) work upside down over the documents with the control buttons on the side.

Is there such a scanner?

-- Vivaldo Quaresma

(Well, yes, there is such a device but it's your digital camera. With the right optics, no flash, careful setup, you can capture an image that can be converted to text with OCR software if necessary but is certainly readable. -- Editor)

RE: Kodak Printer Help

We have a Kodak 5500 all-in-one and we love it. It just started to show that a new black ink cartridge was low shortly after installation. We took it out and reinstalled it and it works fine for a while. When the prompt comes up we just pop it out and reinsert it and we are good to go. Black last a long time.

We just now started to have black copies print with a light print line across the full page. We cleaned the print head and tried all the suggestions in Kodak's manual but we still have the lines.

Printer about six months old. Any help??? Can you provide Kodak phone number for help with our problem.

My husband wanted to buy one when his office fax bit the dust and could not find one anywhere.

-- Kimberly Mejac

(Not surprised your husband can't find one because Kodak has replaced them with the black ESP line. Look for an ESP-9 for the same features as your 5500. Meanwhile, visit the main Kodak page for the 5500 at and scroll down for support links. There you'll find (search "new cartridge low") that Kodak recommends a firmware upgrade you can do yourself to resolve that situation. For the banding problem, you'll be directed to the Step-by-Step Solutions and Repair pages. The first questions will ask about damage to the print head and the label on the cartridge. Then you're directed to do a print head cleaning and a Deep Clean. If all this fails, Kodak will authorize a replacement print head. You can complete the replacement request by phone at 1-800-421-6699 but you do need a reference ID showing you've jumped through the hoops on the Web. Hope that helps. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

DxO Labs has unveiled ( a new Web site to publish key objective metrics of sensor performance for a variety of cameras measured directly on the RAW image. Available as a free online resource, makes it possible for the first time to assess the intrinsic quality of a camera before the impact of any Raw conversion.

"There are many valuable resources reviewing the image quality of digital cameras, but none of them consider the actual Raw signal straight from the camera sensor," explains Nicolas Touchard, vice president of marketing, DxO Labs Image Quality Evaluation business. "Demanding photographers who shoot in Raw should only care about the genuine quality of the Raw image, yet until now they have had to rely on measures based on converted Raw images, obviously biased by the processing applied to them, whether embedded or performed offline with a software Raw converter."

Adobe Labs ( has released the company's free Pixel Bender plug-in for CS4 [MW], which "provides automatic runtime optimization on heterogeneous hardware" to run Photoshop filters much faster than they have ever run before.

The company also released Configurator [MW] to build custom Photoshop CS4 panels configuring the application's interface to fit specific needs. See our preview ( of Configurator.

Pandigital ( has announced it will support Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Live FrameIt application starting with its Kitchen Technology Center frame, which combines an HDTV, digital cookbook, digital photo frame and RSS feed capabilities. FrameIt ( streams images stored on photo sharing Web sites.

Luminous Landscape's Michael H. Reichmann has posted an uncut version of his interview with Henry Wilhelm, founder of Wilhelm Imaging Research, which is famous for its work on print permanence (

La Cie ( has released its free SilverKeeper 2.0 [M] backup application. "Almost any read/write device that can mount a writeable volume on the Macintosh Desktop can be used with SilverKeeper," the company said.

Akvis ( has released it $72 ArtWork 1.0 [MW] to give photos the impression of an oil painting with varying degrees of control.

Microtek announced a change in its sales strategy for digital imaging products in North America. The company said it "is moving from an emphasis on selling a wide portfolio of consumer and professional scanners and digital imaging products to an exclusive emphasis on developing OEM relationships and vertical market opportunities."

Search millions of photos from the LIFE magazine photo archive via Google (

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One Liners

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:


Curtin Short Courses:

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

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Happy snapping!

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

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