Volume 11, Number 6 13 March 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 249th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We discover a clever device that lets you use your laptop outdoors. Then we salute the neglected Canon SX110, really one of the best little digicams we've ever pocketed. We have trouble finding an ink cartridge and rediscover the joys of a double exposure before recommending an anthology of essays on this art. Dive in!


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Feature: Pixel Sunscreen -- A Modern Darkroom

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

We thought we'd seen the end of darkrooms but it turns out they still have one useful purpose. No, not for hosting trays of chemicals and unexposed paper and film. But for shielding your computer from the harsh glare of the sun.

If you've ever tried to use your laptop outdoors, you know the problem. That bright screen that's almost blinding at two in the morning when you can't sleep and decide to check email is impossible to make out even in the shade on a sunny day.

Sunlight is a lot brighter than we think. And a lot brighter than any laptop can really cope with.


But sometimes you really do need your laptop with you when you're shooting outdoors. And if that's the situation, you need a $69 Pixel Sunscreen ( from Think Tank.

The company has just revamped the original design, basing the new model on feedback from photographers using it in the field. "While we had no complaints about the first version," explains company founder and CEO Dough Murdoch, "we knew that it wasn't yet fully optimized for what really happens in the field."

So Doug, Mike Sturm and Lily Fisher redesigned "95 percent" of the Sunscreen to provide the following features:

The design has evolved from the rectangular format of the original model to a round form more like a folded reflector. Mike Sturm explained, "This is the shape the spring steel wanted to live." And you don't argue with steel.


We gave an early production unit a test. Our outdoor laptop is an antique whose screen, even when new, would not have been described as bright. Usually we use it under an umbrella (OK, parasol) -- but with great difficulty. It's just very hard to see the screen even in the shade.

So one balmy day, we took the Sunscreen and our laptop outside to see if we could do any better.

Yes, we can.

The sunscreen pops up in a flash, thanks to the wire spiral structure that reminded us of our Lite Igloo. These things look easy enough when you're opening them, but when it comes time to collapse them, we look around for David Copperfield. There's a right way and several hundred disastrously wrong ways to do it.

You can damage these things doing it the wrong way and Think Tank points that out. But unlike the Lite Igloo, there are instructions on the Sunscreen itself as well as a handy printed tag. We won't describe the process, but if you follow the instructions, you'll be fine.

With our gear set out on a table, we popped open the Sunscreen very easily. It sprang to life in one motion, ready for duty.

All you have to do is slip the netting around the outside frame and lift. It's tempting but don't pull the blue tab, which merely opens the pocket that holds the large cover.

There's a bit of a curve to the bottom because the wire support structure along the outside edges isn't straight, but as soon as you put a laptop inside, there's no wobble. The sure-grip rubber under the base of the unit keeps it from moving around, too. And there's more of the stuff inside on the base to keep your laptop from slipping as well.

When opened you have roughly 17-inch tall, 15-inch wide and 12-inch deep cavity to place your laptop. Think Tank says you can put a 17-inch laptop inside, too. It will just stretch the side panels around it. Fabric is flexible, after all.

The elastic netting that holds the unit closed is on the outside right panel. And the separate hood that covers both you and the Sunscreen is tucked into a pocket on top.

Inside there are elastic net pockets on the right and left panels to store whatever you like. They're about four inches deep and run the width of the panel (a bit less than a foot) with a Velcro clasp midway.

Below them are short panels held closed by Velcro on the outside that open to allow cables through the bottom of the panel. The back is also open to the outside. And no, the Sunscreen is not waterproof.

The top of the unit has a few goodies, too, including a short belt with a clasp on it so you can hold up a notebook, say, on the left side. In the middle there is an elastic band sewn into three sections to hold other materials. And on the right there's a loop.


If it seems like a lot of thought has gone into this device, you're right. Usually, you see something like this and think, wow, what a great idea. Then you get it home and find one annoyance after another that makes you wonder what you were thinking. Did the designers ever try this thing?

Not so with the Sunscreen. Every time we thought we'd try something, we found the designers had accommodated our intentions with a pocket or a flap. Take, for example, the handle sown into the rim that appeared on the edge of the closed Sunscreen just when we were trying to think of an easy way to store it.

We just had to learn our way around the device. Five minutes flat. That's all it takes.


So how did it do with our shy laptop?

Well, let's just say we're thinking of buying the old laptop a new bikini. It loves the sun now. It was easily as visible in the Sunscreen as it is indoors, away from the sun. We could even use a mouse with it (on the outside, of course) and connect a power brick. The only thing that really has to be shielded from the sun is the screen.

But we also gained a side benefit we hadn't expected. Privacy. No, the Sunscreen isn't really suitable for working on an airplane, but if you find yourself in a row of other photographers trying to focus on your work, it's nice to know nobody else can see what you're doing. And if you really want privacy, you can open the hood, slip it over your head and the Sunscreen and be completely in the dark.

Which brings us back to our initial impression of the Sunscreen as a darkroom. But a portable one you'll be glad to duck into now and then.

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Feature: Canon PowerShot SX110 IS -- A Bargain With No Tradeoffs

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

The X in SX must stand for Exceptional. The first exceptional thing about the SX110 IS is its price. At about $240, you expect to give up a few things, but we can't find any. The SX110 IS gives you full manual control plus Scene modes for its 10x optical zoom with optical image stabilization and a 9.0-megapixel CCD. The flash even pops up to reduce red-eye.

We usually feel very uncomfortable when we write about inexpensive digicams because often the price is the only standout feature. If only, we try to whisper, you can save up another fifty or a hundred dollars, you won't have to live with this or that limitation.

We're not uncomfortable writing about the SX110 IS. It's a model for others to emulate. You get the goods without giving up the farm.


The prior model wasn't a lot different from the SX110 IS, but the SX100 IS was symmetrical with a nice bump on top following the lines of the large lens. The SX110 IS is not symmetrical. The bump rises slowly from the right side and drops off abruptly on the left.

You won't be bothered by that much, though, because the gorgeous 3.0 inch LCD will capture your attention. You thought a camera this inexpensive would come with just a 2.5 inch LCD, probably or just 110K pixels. But Canon delivers a big LCD with high resolution.

That contributes to the one thing about the SX110 that may give you pause. It's not a small camera. Canon has a long standing habit of building small cameras a little large. The flagship G10 is a good example, as was the G9 before it. And the SX110, like the SX100 before it, shows no effort to miniaturize. If you want small, buy an ELPH. But you'll give up a lot of things with an ELPH compared to the SX110.

This is a plastic body with smooth surfaces. Some people may consequently find the grip a little slippery. There's a nicely sculpted thumb grip on the back and a good chrome-accented ledge on the front for your other fingers. It never slipped from our hands.

It does have a healthy heft, but we wouldn't describe it as heavy. The featherweights often shake when you press the Shutter but that's not a problem on the SX110.

One peculiar aspect of the body design is the location of the CR1220 battery that keeps the clock ticking when you pop out the main battery. It's on the left side of the camera in a little drawer that's hard to pull out evenly. And when you do, you lose the time. This drawer is usually hidden in the battery compartment and not quite so tempting.

The control layout is pretty standard, abandoning the row of buttons below the LCD on the SX100 (there isn't room any more) for positions around the navigator. The Mode dial is large and easily thumbed from the back. The Shutter button ringed with the Zoom control is also quite large and easy to find. Only the Power button, a small rectangular inset behind the Shutter button could use further thought.

The LCD is your viewfinder and even holds up pretty well in sunlight. It does show finger marks (blame the antiglare surface) but they're easy to wipe away.

The lens remains the big draw on the SX110. Once you've used a camera with a 10x optical range, you'll feel hemmed in by cameras with 5x and 3x zooms. It's just astonishing you get 10x on a camera at this price. And when you think Canon has included its optical image stabilization, too, you just have to shake your head. Up and down.


Moving the buttons from under the LCD to around the navigator turn the SX110 into a one-handed camera, although you'll use two for stability. But, as with any digicam, the interface on the SX110 is half buttons and half menus.

As far as the buttons go, their use should be fairly familiar to any Canon owner. Canon always has to change the function of at least one button on every model, but the usual hierarchy is intact. The Menu button brings up the major settings in tabs (Playback mode, for example, has a tab for its settings, another for Print function and the Setup tab). The Function/Set button brings up more frequently used options for the mode you're in (in Record mode, for example, that's where you set the image size and quality, white balance and more). And finally the buttons themselves handle the most used functions (EV, for example, is on one of them).

This works well, although we continually shake our head (left and right) at the shell game Canon plays moving functions from the menu system to the buttons. But once you get the idea and learn where you're favorites are, you don't forget.

Buttons are the most direct way to do anything and the SX110 makes good use of them.

Around the Function/Set button is the Control dial. You can press the top, bottom, left and right sides of the navigator to move upward, downward, left and right where necessary. But Up also sets ISO in Record mode and rotates the image in Playback. Down cycles through the shutter release modes. Left cycles through the focusing modes and Right through the Flash modes.

But the Control dial also spins, speeding navigation. It's most useful when the Mode dial is set to Scene. Then any spin of the Control dial displays the available Scene modes.

Above the Control dial are two buttons, one to toggle Face Detection on and off and the other to set EV. Below the Control dial are two more buttons. One cycles through the Display modes and the other is the Menu button.

That's the basic control configuration, but there are two other buttons on the back panel worth pointing out. Just above the controls is the rather lonely Playback button. It's located pretty close to your thumb, though, making it easy to get into Playback mode to review your shots. Pressing the Playback button again or the Shutter button takes you back to Record.

The other button of note is the Print/Share button. You can scroll through your images selecting a few to add to the print list or to download when using the camera's Direct Transfer option. In Record mode, you can assign one of six functions to it: White Balance, Custom White Balance, Red-Eye Correction, Teleconverter, Display Overlay (grid), Display Off or unassigned.


One of the best things about the SX110 is its inclusion of manual shooting modes, which are often neglected on Canon digicams.

Tv for setting the shutter speed manually, Av for setting the aperture manually and Manual for setting both shutter speed and aperture manually greatly enhance the camera's value to both beginners and those who know how to get what they want.

The automatic modes include Program AE and Easy Shooting. It takes a bit of doing, but in Program AE, if you half-press the Shutter button then press the EV button, you can use the Control dial to change aperture and shutter speed combinations without changing the exposure. That's how Program AE is supposed to work, but Canon rarely lets you tinker with the suggested exposure.

Easy Shooting pretty much locks up the camera, great for handing it off to a child. You can zoom and use the flash (if you raise it) but otherwise, no options.

The Mode dial includes a few Scene modes you might use frequently. Those include Portrait, Landscape, Night Snapshot, Kids&Pets and Indoor.

Under the Scene menu, which Canon calls Special Scene, are a few additional Scene modes: Foliage, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Aquarium, Night Scene and ISO 3200.

Finally, the SX110 offers a Movie mode that can capture 640x480 frames at 30 fps, an LP version of that which can capture movies twice as long and 320x240 at 30 fps.


The largest image size from the 9-Mp sensor is 3456x2592 pixels. You can fit about seven of those using superfine compression and 13 using fine compression on the included 32-MB SD card.

That same card will hold only 15 seconds of the highest movie quality. But a 2-GB card will hold 16 min. 47 sec.

Because the SX110 is powered by AA batteries, you have a choice of technologies. Single-use lithiums provide the most power but are not rechargeable. Still they make a good choice if you shoot mainly on holidays and rarely any other time. The alkalines included with the camera are the least powerful option, rating just 140 shots using CIPA test methods (which take quite a few flash shots). Between those extremes, but closer to the lithiums, are rechargeable NiMH batteries. Those rated 400 shots using CIPA test methods.


The SX110 straddles two classes of digicams. With its 10x zoom, it's a long zoom. But with its user-friendly features and price, it's also an entry-level camera.

Among long zooms, its performance is about average on our most important categories. While startup was average at 2.8 seconds as the long lens extrudes, shutdown was better average at 1.7 second. If you're scoring this as an entry-level camera, make those both average.

Combined autofocus lag (both at wide-angle and telephoto) was about average at 0.595 second in either class. Pre-focus lag (with the Shutter button pressed halfway down before taking the picture) was average at 0.075 second for a long zoom but above average for an entry-level camera. That's rather quick, however you look at it.

Continuous mode cycle time for large/superfine images was below average 0.89 second or 1.12 frames-per-second.

Flash cycling was below average in both classes at 10.8 seconds. That usually indicates a powerful flash. That, in fact, is the case with the SX110. Our ISO 100 flash tests were well illuminated to about 9 or 10 feet. That's unusual for an entry-level camera.

Download speed was 4,004 Kbytes/s, very fast indeed at USB 2.0 Hi-Speed rates. That's about average among long zooms but above average on entry level digicams.

In either class, the 3.0-inch LCD ranks above average.

Optical zoom at 10x is only average for a long zoom, if above average on an entry-level camera.

And, on the other side of the coin, the SX110's weight is a bit heavy for an entry-level digicam while very light for a long zoom.


Informally looking at our first shots with the SX110, we liked the image quality. Of course, we've yet to see a flawless lens, so we were curious what our lab tests revealed.

A peek at the Still Life ISO 100 image ( confirmed our initial impressions. The hanging yarns look pretty good, with even a little detail in the white yarn on the right. The proportional scale below them is pretty sharp, too, without any of the artifacts we usually see.

The dark coffee mug and the white napkin under it keep to themselves, although you can see a hint of chromatic aberration on the edge of the coffee cup as it bleeds into the wall and the edge of the dark napkin along the table.

The Hellas label looks very good, as does the white Samuel Smith label, which doesn't bloom into the dark glass of the bottle.

The crayons look natural and we can even see some salt crystals in the white salt mill.

The Multi Target test shot ( clearly shows several bright pixels of chromatic aberration in the corners and they extend into the image more than usual. But this is a 10x zoom, after all.

The horizontal and vertical resolution targets at the center of the image look very good to at least 1,500 lines.

The Gallery shots ( were taken under a variety of conditions. Indoors with natural light (even the very dim light of dusk) and outdoors in both sunlight and overcast skies.

The first observation we'll make is that the SX110 delivered the detail. You can see this on the outdoor white hydrangea as well as the dried one indoors. But you can also see it on the two lemons, whose skin is just luscious. Those images ranged in ISO from 75 to 400.

While the indoor hydrangea at ISO 400 clearly shows color noise, it still retains the detail of the veined petals. A little post-processing with Noiseware and we were easily able to clear this up.

The worst example of the noise issue, however, is easily the orchid taken at dusk. You can see the sunset pictures taken at the same time. That was the available light. We shot the image at ISO 1600 and it's so grainy that you might be forgiven for thinking it's a Seurat pointillist painting.

Still, it's a remarkable shot. There was almost no light, although you can see the strong shadows the petals cast on each other. And it was taken in Macro mode. We did rely on Manual mode to open the lens up to f2.8 and fix the Shutter speed at 1/15 second, which we thought we could hand hold with image stabilization. That's not possible with an automatic entry-level digicam.

The sunset shots, however, are. They were all taken in Scene mode using the Sunset option. Viewing the images in real time on the LCD they all seemed a bit too intense to us. But that's forgivable with sunsets. Looking at them later on the monitor, we didn't feel they were quite so exaggerated. The early blues and later purples are nicely rendered as well as the glowing oranges.

That slight exaggeration of the reds we noticed in the sunset images is clear on the shot of the fire alarm. We've seen it much worse than this, though.

And the fire hydrant again demonstrates the issue with chromatic aberration. This is really as bad as it gets along the top edges of the hydrant. What's notable about the image to us is how well contained the highlight detail is. We didn't see blown highlights with the SX110 -- and that's unusual.

Digital zoom performed well, too. That cranks the range out to 40x, but usually images start to fall apart, surviving only when resized. But the SX110 did well even at 4x as our zoom range shots show.

But at just 10x it did remarkably well, too. The shot down Market St. is notable for the clear display of the time on the Ferry Building. You don't get that kind of detail from ultracompact digicams.


Usually when we say a camera is a bargain, we are highlighting the only good thing about it. Bargains usually represent technical trade-offs. But not in this case. The SX110 is a bargain by any standard. Yet it delivers above average performance whether you measure it against other long zooms or other entry-level cameras. We were happy with the image quality, too, taking successful shots under a variety of conditions, relying on both the full manual control as well as the Scene modes to do it. A bargain with no tradeoffs, the Canon SX110 IS is an easy Dave's Pick.

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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: Buying Ink Cartridges

It was a dark and stormy night. And we'd just run out of ink, according to our printer's error message. Two cartridges were bone dry and another just perspiring after a really long multi-page print job.

We took our own ancient advice and popped open the printer to take a look for ourselves. You often aren't really out of ink when the printer says you are. You can sometimes just shake the cartridge, pop it back in and print for another day or three. At least in foggy climates.

But no such luck. Our cartridges really were empty. They didn't even leak all over our fingers. So off to the store we went.

Uh, what store?

Well, the first place we tried was the old office super store. They seem to be outliving all the computer super stores. CompUSA, Circuit City, Good Guys -- all gone. But OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples are all still around.

Maybe that's what happens when your clientele graduates every four years and gets a job, presumably. The electronic stores disappear and the office supply stores survive.

So off to Office Depot we went. Except they didn't have one of the cartridges we needed, so we didn't crack open our wallet. Just as well. They'd probably have tried to sell us an extended warranty on the cartridge.

But they were not unique. A couple of other places we tried didn't have all or any of the cartridges either. And suddenly, we were out of luck for a quick fix. In fact, it was beginning to seem like they only way to get it would be down some dark alley.

The same feeling of abandonment happened again when we were shopping for an external monitor. With no electronics stores handy, how were we to tell if Brand X was better than Brand Y? If you can't inspect them, you can't tell.

But it isn't just our list that's the problem. What if you want to buy a lens? Or try out a new camera? Camera stores are disappearing, too. And, frankly, the ones that are left (around here, that is) are not worth the bus fare. In the entire Bay area, we know of just one ( worth visiting. We used to haunt several when Jimmy Carter was President. No, not with Andy Rooney.

We suppose in a fit of bitterness we could blame Chuck Westfall or Harvey Milk, guys who used to work behind the counter before moving on to other careers. But the real reason is elsewhere, as you undoubtedly realize.

Amazon, B&H, Adorama and a slew of online stores, some even run by the product manufacturers themselves, have become the no-sales-tax, no-shipping-charge venues of choice.

But for a lousy, stinking ink cartridge, too?

For a minute we thought about opening a little retail photo shop ( with 24-inch monitors on a shelf and dSLRs in a case with a bevy (not just a selection) of lenses of all focal lengths in a nice display case, worthy of a trade show booth. We'd have all the ink cartridges known to man (well, regular customers), too, just to get you to drop in every week or two. And filters. And camera bags. And software demos. And the employees would all be indistinguishable from volunteers or O'Reilly authors. It would be hard to turn off the lights and lock the door every night.

That was one long minute.

The next minute, we were on Amazon applying a discount code to a set of all our inks and making out like a bandit, except we had to wait five days for them to be mailed to us.

But from now on we won't go out into the dark and stormy night to look for them.

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Advanced Mode: Double & Multiple Exposure

A long time ago when Joyce and we were first visiting her family in the East, the two of us visited her college campus. We brought along the Argus we'd bought for $15 at the flea market to take a few snapshots.

It's a lovely old campus, the stone buildings covered in ivy with huge doors that look like they could double as drawbridges. As we approached the entrance to one, we noticed the doors had half-pane windows (presumably so you wouldn't flatten someone when you opened the door outward). And the windows, at that time of day, were just dark squares in the shadowed door.

Not a great shot, we thought, hoping instead to see the reflection of the sky in them. But then it struck us to try a double exposure. We shot the entrance and then turned around and caught Joyce in the sunlight, framed about where we thought the glass panel would be.

On the Argus, it required no magic to cock the shutter without advancing the film. It's such a simple camera that the two operations are separate actions. There's a black shutter crank below the shutter button and the film advance is just a knob above the take-up reel. Argusians probably took a lot of inadvertent double exposures.

The shot came out perfectly, just what we had imagined.

We remembered this trick when we upgraded from the Argus to a Nikon FM2, which had a little clutch you could press when cocking the shutter so the film wouldn't also advance (by then it was all one movement).

But when we started shooting with a digicam instead of a film camera, we couldn't believe we had to give up double exposures. There was no way to avoid "advancing" the film. Each shot was discreet, saved in a file of its own. It was the one thing a film camera could do that a digital camera could not.

We were only consoled by how easy it is to combine shots in an image editor, even varying the opacity of the layers to get the effect you want. And if that doesn't do it, you can always erase the part of a layer that's confusing things.

Problem solved, right? Well, no. Sometimes you really do want to take multiple exposures in the same frame.

And by multiple exposures we mean multiple actual actuations of the shutter between which you can change any setting. We're excluding from this simple discussion the technique of leaving the shutter open a long time and firing a strobe several times to paint the picture.

The trick to doing this is to, uh, buy a dSLR that has an option for multiple exposure. If the camera doesn't provide the option, you're stuck doing this on your computer. Simple as that.

Cameras that do provide this function tuck it away in the Menu system because it's no longer a mechanical trick. Look for Multiple Exposure. You'll have to enable it after setting the number of shots you want to combine. That can be hard to know ahead of time, but that can be part of the fun.

You may also have another option to automatically adjust the gain of each shot. It's an option because sometimes you want to do that and sometimes you don't. The question is really whether the cumulative exposure of all the shots would amount to an overexposure. If so, enable auto gain (underexposing each shot). Otherwise, leave it alone.

With auto gain adjustment on, for example, and two shots set, each shot would be exposed at half the normal exposure so the total exposure would be correct. That would be necessary if you were exposing two sunlit scenes, for example.

But in a scene with large dark areas, like a room with mixed lighting that you want to capture separately with a different white balance, each shot might be a normal exposure. In this case, if you had auto gain on, every exposure would be underexposed. So you would leave it off.

And don't forget about Continuous shooting mode. Firing off a few frames a second on a tripod with a light foreground subject against a dark background subject can simulate that strobe effect discussed earlier.

It's a challenge to do this in the field, but it's a fun challenge. And if it doesn't work out, you'll know immediately. Just make an adjustment and try it again.

The fun, as we hinted above, is really between shots when you can vary any of your settings, adjusting white balance, ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, even where the camera is. That's where you really leave compositing in Photoshop way behind.

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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 the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 at[email protected]@.eeaa2b0/0

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

Cathy asks about Kodachrome slide scanners at[email protected]@.eeabf6e/0

Steven seeks input about photographing old newspapers at[email protected]@.eeac031/0

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

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Book Bag: The Education of a Photographer

We were thumbing through The Education of a Photographer the other day when we thought it might be fun to quote a few of the illuminaries therein. Even more fun, we thought, would be to detach the quote from the author and see if anyone could reattach them.

Except no one would be able to do it. These aren't famous quotes. And they're not all by photographers. Some are photographers, some are people who work with photographers or teach photographers or employ photographers or, simply, just suffer them.

So, instead of a game, here are just a few quotes to whet your appetite for the book:

"The photographer creates, evolves a better, more selective, acute seeing eye by looking ever more sharply at what is going on in the world." -- Berenice Abbott

"We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again." -- Henri Cartier-Bresson

"The state of mind of the photographer while creating is a blank." -- Minor White

"Most people obviously don't know where to stand." -- Lee Friedlander

"The profession is short on dignity: Nearly everyone has fallen down, been the target of condescension (the stereotypical image of a photographer being that of a mildly contemptible, self-indulgent dilettante), been harassed by security guards and dropped expensive equipment." -- Robert Adams

"Zoom lenses are the work of the devil." -- Philip Perkis

"People move too fast." -- Vera Lutter

"The photographer is nowhere to be seen." -- Wendell Berry

"As for the camera as machine -- well, I know how to press down with my finger. The rest is thingamajig." -- Cynthia Ozick

"The creative life of a commercial photographer is like the life of a butterfly. Very seldom do we see a photographer who continues to be really productive for more than eight or ten years." -- Alexey Brodovitch

"Did artists really work better on empty stomachs? After several more shots I decided they did not and headed for the nearest barbecue stand." -- Helen Gee

"If you find yourself in a corner, photograph your way out." -- Peter McGill

"Photographers are the Marcel Marceaus of the visual world. It is a very tight, spare way of trying to say a lot with very little -- no sound or special effects or anything to accompany it but a caption." -- Robert Pledge

"When I think of a 'career' as a photographer, I'm not thinking of a desk job, more of a responsibility to yourself to make sure that when you're ready to present a body of work, you don't short-change yourself." -- Charlotte Cotton

Well, you get the idea. Photography breeds a lot of wise cracks.

The Education of a Photographer by Charles H. Traub, Steven Heller and Adam B. Bell, 238 pages, $19.95 (or $13.57 at
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RE: Scanning 2.25-Inch Negatives

I read your answer to a reader who wanted to scan odd-sized negatives on his V700 scanner. I have a lot of old Rolei 2.25x2.25 inch negatives and have had a hard time scanning in the whole image.

Do you have any specific instructions on your site or where you would place the negatives within a homemade mask or setting the software to recognize them?

I've had no trouble with 35mm negs, prints of various sizes or printed images -- just the old negatives.

-- Van

(That size film would be handled by the standard medium format holder shown in the second Film Holders image in the review ( Those are our 2.25 inch negatives and you can see the whole image in the negative there.... A homemade carrier should guarantee that the film will be aligned to the glass in the same position every time and it should help flatten the film if at all possible. Your best bet is to study the carriers included with the unit for clues to alignment and flattening tricks. But you might take a look at for their carriers and save yourself the trouble of building one.... In the software, you can (usually) identify the scannable areas of the scanner bed and save that as a template. -- Editor)

Thanks Mike, that helped a great deal. I did not receive the film holder you showed in your photo, so I'll have to contact Epson.

-- Van

RE: Photochaining

I thought the following story would be of interest to you:

"The PhotoChaining blog is a continuous project where people practice the art of leaving memory cards in public places to be picked up and used by others, who then do likewise."

It's a brand new project and I invite you to discover it at:

-- Renaud Dehareng

(Oh, that sounds like fun -- and a nice way to dispose of an old card, too. Thanks! -- Editor)

RE: Missing Oscar

I really don't get the review of photo sharing services which put Facebook -- or anyone else for that matter -- ahead of Flickr. I'm a member of both the above services. Comparatively, the Facebook photo interface is clumsy, difficult for old folks (like the grandparents) to figure out, takes a lot of thrashing about to find various friends' or family member's photos ... while Flickr is brain dead simple. And if you want to be connected to a wide world of photos of people you don't even know -- but whose work is inspiring -- how can any service out there beat Flickr, which has such a huge database (three billion, isn't it?) of searchable photos?

-- C.R.

(Just a reminder that the article itself (unlike perhaps the voters) did not rank the services. -- Editor)

What about Zenfolio? Classier and cheaper than Smugmug, more open than Facebook, very customizable. I'll look at Nikon, thanks.

-- Jenny

(Well, what about a lot of services, we thought when we got the votes. No votes for Zenfolio. That's all we can say <g>. Maybe we should only ask for votes after giving the award. Anyway, the idea was to give you a few alternatives in case one or another service disappears into thin air. It's happened before, alas. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Camillo Vanacore's concept design of a Nikon Coolpix 3M is just beyond beautiful ( What a pretty way to handle the water-resistant and dust-proof extremes!

Shapeways ( has introduced Photoshaper, a new service to turn digital photographs into 3D objects. Upload a photo and transform it into 3D with just a few mouse clicks and without any 3D software experience required. The 3.5x5.11-inch 3D photo will be produced and delivered within 10 days for between $40-50, including shipping. Photoshaper accepts JPEG, PNG and GIF images (for best results use 1.5 megapixel or better).

DxO Labs ( has released DxO Optics Pro v5.3.3, with support for the Nikon D3x (DxO Optics Pro Elite Edition) and Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 (DxO Optics Pro Elite Edition). In addition, 43 new DxO Optics Correction Modules have also been made available for a variety of cameras. The new version also includes multiple improvements, including automatic reading of the focusing distance for Canon 5D Mark II images.

The company also announced the addition of Raw-based image quality data and DxOMark Sensor rankings on for three Sony Alpha-series cameras, the A700, the A300 and the A200.

Adobe ( has released Lightroom 2.3, Camera Raw 5.3 and DNG Converter 5.3. The updates provide Raw file support for the newly-released Nikon D3x and Olympus E-30 cameras. The Lightroom update also provides support for eight additional languages.

Creaceed ( has released Hydra 2.1 to improve user experience and HDR creation performance.

Lensbaby ( has introduced its $ 79.95 0.42x Super Wide Lens, which converts any Lensbaby lens's focal length from 50mm to 21mm. Designed for the Lensbaby Optic Swap System, it also has a macro capability, focusing as close as 2.75" away from the front of the lens.

OmegaSatter and the laboratories of Koh Global have released the patent pending Koh HEPA Jet Air (, which is the first HEPA-filtered bulb blower to provide purified dust-free blasts of air to clear off dust from sensitive digital equipment.

Datacolor ( has announced its $59 SpyderCube, an all-in-one Raw calibration device in the shape of a cube (with a tripod mount) for fast and accurate whitepoint correction as well as bracketed adjustments for highlights and blacks. A white face on SpyderCube helps define highlights in relation to the catch-light, a Gray face measures color temperature and mid-tone response, a Black face defines shadows in relations to the Black Trap and a Black Trap defines absolute black.

Kodak and Photobucket ( have announced an agreement to let Photobucket users turn their images into Kodak Gallery products. Products range in price from $0.15 for prints to $22.99 for large posters and can be shipped around the globe.

Apple ( has released two updates for OS X 10.5 Leopard's iLife '09 suite. The iLife Support 9.0.1 update "improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues." The company also released an iPhoto Update 8.0.1 update, which "improves overall stability and addresses minor issues in a number of areas, including internet connectivity, keyword import, and slide show export."

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Mike Pasini, Editor
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Dave Etchells, Publisher
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