Volume 11, Number 19 11 September 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 262nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. A big little thumb drive catches our attention before Shawn salivates over Canon's 7D, which broke records for page views on our server. Then we detail a way to find your photos for the less hierarchical among us (who hate to tag). Finally, we reflect on the most common images taken at Photo Walk 2009.


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Feature: Verbatim Thumb Drives -- Secure Storage

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

With all the dSLR fireworks going off these days, it's a little embarrassing to be calling your attention to a USB thumb drive. A USB thumb drive, after all, is something of a give-away. Who'd buy one when there are all these fabulous new cameras crying out for your cash?

But wait a minute.

What good is a camera if you never take a picture? The value of all these fancy new dSLRs is the pictures they take. And where do these pictures live? On storage devices, that's where. And what's a USB thumb drive?

One of the more persistent if not frequent questions we've gotten over the last 10 years is how to safely store images you've captured as you travel.

In the old days of 3-Mp digicams, we really liked the stand-alone CD writers that could play VCD discs when hooked up to a TV. What we really liked about them (as opposed to boxes with large hard drives) was that they could duplicate your images. You could burn a couple of CDs, erase your expensive 64-MB card and continue shooting vacation shots the next day.

We still miss that simplicity, frankly. There's never been a simpler way to duplicate your images on the road.

But these days images are so large we're pretty much obliged to forget CDs and DVDs and bring a laptop to copy the images to the internal drive and an external drive. And then worry about theft.

But wait.

All those throw-away USB drives are larger than a CD. And quite a few of them are even larger than a DVD. Some are as large as several DVDs. Why can't you just copy your images to USB thumb drives for backup?

And what if those precious images from your new dSLR with all the bells and whistles you ever hoped to hear could be hidden away on that USB thumb drive, accessible only if you knew the password?

Ah, now you're talking, brother. Now you're singing, sister.

And that's why we're calling your attention to Verbatim's latest Store 'n' Go USB thumb drives. They're capacious and secure.


The Store 'n' Go thumb drive isn't a new product for Verbatim ( But earlier this year, they announced a $60 8-GB version for Mac OS X, joining the Windows product.

At 8-GB, you have the equivalent of two DVDs worth of storage. The Windows version is available in a 16-GB model, as well for $80.

The red Windows model and the silver Mac model both share a retractable USB connection. You simply push a slider on the top of the drive forward until it locks to reveal the connector. Depress the slider's button to slide it back and hide the connector when you're done. The simple mechanism means no more lost connector caps and, in practice, is a real convenience.

Verbatim claims the drive will retain data for at least 10 years.


But the big attraction of the Store 'n' Go is the software that comes with it.

On the Mac, which is the version we tested, OS 10.4.11 is required. Either PowerPC or Intel processor is fine.

You have to install V-Safe (in the Utilities folder) on any Mac from which you wish to access the private, password-protected partition of the thumb drive. You won't, that is, be able to get to your protected files on a Windows system.

Hang on to that thought.

V-Safe lets you format the thumb drive into two partitions: a public one visible on any computer and a private one accessible only with a password on computers that have V-Safe installed. A copy of the installer is written to the publish partition whenever you format the drive, fortunately.

As Product Manager Mark Rogers explained, "If you take the drive to another Mac, launch and install the app from the public zone and enter your password to access private zone data."

In fact, to access the private partition of the drive, you always have to launch V-Safe and enter your password. Add it to your dock.

The installer writes more than V-Safe to your hard drive. It also writes a device driver in the form of a kernel extension.

There are two panels available in V-Safe. One simply presents a button to access the private partition, followed by a password prompt. The other handles setup.

Setup lets you configure the two partitions on the thumb drive much as Disk Utility does for hard drives. You determine how much of the 8-GB drive should be private and how much should be public. You can give a name to each partition and then you reformat.

The public side, with a white icon, is always PC-like with an uppercase volume name and PC format. That works with any system.

The private side, with a red icon, on the Mac Store 'n' Go is a Mac volume.

You can optionally click a check box to make either or both partitions write protected so no alterations can be made to them.

A 12-page PDF explains all this. It's installed in the same directory as V-Safe.

And, yes, in the interest of scientific enquiry and in violation of the license, we did try to run the software on another thumb drive we had lying around (how cool would it be to password protect all your drives?). No sale.

The roll-your-own version of password protection is really just encryption. You create a folder on your hard drive, encrypt the folder and copy it to the drive. But people can see that. With the Store 'n' Go, there's no hint that there's a password protected partition on the thumb drive.

Well, there's a hint. The capacity of the drive is stamped on the USB connector. You have to pop it out and look really closely to see it. Otherwise, it's just a thumb drive of whatever capacity you set the public partition.

Don't know about your crowd, but this is just what we need to relax at our social gatherings.

There is a free, open-source disk encryption application called TrueCrypt ( that takes the encryption further to the volume level, encrypting the entire file system. It isn't nearly as easy to use as V-Safe (spend half an hour figuring out how hidden volumes work) but it does have a Wizard to help you create an encrypted volume. Still, after working with it for an hour, we really appreciated the simplicity of V-Safe.


So nice theory but lots of moola for a little insurance (and when wasn't that the case?). How's this really work out in practice?

We lived with one of these drives for a few weeks to answer that question.

One of the tasks we hoped the drive would help us with was a simple backup of our day's working files. We do regular backups to external drives but they are time consuming affairs so we don't do them daily. We really wanted a simple daily backup for just a few data files, skipping all the new software installs and security updates.

Backup is probably too strong a word. It implies some kind of intelligent file choice and automatic copying. All we really wanted to do was copy over the files we'd created every day to the thumb drive, much as we might copy a few image files.

On our machines, we use USB extension cables to make it easy to connect peripherals. The shoulders on the Verbatim drive are round enough you may be able to make a direct connection (say on a MacBook Pro or PowerBook G4) but if not, an extension cable is the solution.

After formatting the drive to be half public and half private, we ruminated over which partition to copy what to. Images (with our copyright stuck into the Exif header) went into the public partition. Text into the private.

Having a luxurious 4-GB in each partition really absolved us of any difficult decisions. And as we worked on a Windows product review, we really appreciated the drive's public partition for transferring images between boxes. Of course any drive could have done that (except the Verbatim does enforce a PC format on the public partition that OS X has no trouble negotiating).

Transfer speed was much faster than our throw-away thumb drives. A copy of a 5-MB image file from the hard disk to the hard disk averaged 547 megabits a second, from the hard disk to the Verbatim 91-Mbits/second, to another thumb drive 23-Mbits/second and to yet another only 7-Mbits/second.

We did access the private data on a couple of Macs with V-Safe installed. No problem.

In fact, usability was pretty stellar. The public option was transparently simple. Just plug the drive in to use it. And the private option required no more than launching V-Safe and entering a password to mount that partition. We thought, at first, that was a lot of work until we tried TrueCrypt.

Had we been traveling with important private or client documents, the private partition would have been even more important. It simply can't be touched without V-Safe and the password. But perhaps even more importantly, it won't even be noticed.


Buying a camera doesn't make you a photographer. Taking pictures makes you a photographer. And to prove you took pictures, you'll have to store them. You can certainly store them on any device but larger thumb drives require less power and are more convenient than external drives or media like CDs and DVDs, assets that are particularly important on the road.

By adding a secure partition to its thumb drive, Verbatim has made a throw-away storage medium into a valuable peripheral. A digital wallet that won't compromise you even if it's lost, the Store 'n' Go is a well-executed solution to a problem every photographer faces.

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Feature: Canon EOS 7D Hands-on Preview

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

The long-rumored Canon 7D has finally materialized: an advanced subframe dSLR that Canon says is in the same class as the 5D Mark II. This is not the 60D with a new name, we're told, but a whole new line; whether the 7D supplants the 50D is not clear.

What is clear is that the Canon EOS 7D is replete with features, many of which seem like a fulfillment of an enthusiast checklist. Other features are clear responses to just about every corner of the dSLR market, features that are heretofore only seen on one or two cameras from Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus and even Canon's Rebel line. The end result is that much of what Canon users may have admired in other cameras is now available in the Canon 7D.

Competition is good.

The Canon 7D also goes a long way toward tempering fears that the next round of Canon dSLRs would be full-frame, as several of the advancements take advantage of the sensor's smaller size to achieve greater frame rates. Though the new sensor is 18 megapixels, the Canon 7D is still capable of capturing eight frames per second while maintaining 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion thanks to its dual DIGIC 4 processors. That makes the Canon 7D essentially the company's pro-grade subframe digital camera, going up against the Nikon D300s, leaving the current 50D to compete with the Nikon D90. It's interesting that Canon has essentially had no camera in this category until now.

There's a lot of detail to fill in, but let's get to the walkaround first to provide the usual context. The Canon 7D is similar in size to the EOS 50D, just a little larger, measuring 5.8x4.4x2.9 inches and weighing 33.3 ounces with a battery and CF card. With the 28-135mm kit lens, it weighs 51.75 ounces.


Falling somewhere between the 5D Mark II and the 50D, the Canon 7D will feel familiar to either type of user. It has a big, comfortable grip with an indentation for the middle finger. The pentaprism housing is a little larger than the 50D, but a little smaller than the 5D Mark II. That's interesting, because the pentaprism in the 7D is actually larger than the 5D Mark II, to support the 100 percent viewfinder with 1.0 magnification, something we'll get to shortly. Unlike the 5D Mark II, the Canon 7D has a pop-up flash built in.

Canon has nested an infrared sensor into the front of the grip for remote release, something that they've left out of higher-end EOS cameras, instead confining it to the Rebel series. It's a welcome inclusion. Upper right are four holes for the microphone.

Like the 5D series, the Canon 7D's Mode dial is devoid of Scene modes, the first visible sign that this is a pro sub-frame camera. The power switch is in an entirely new place, jutting out toward the rear from under the Mode dial. The Status LCD illumination button is upper right of the LCD, as on the 5D, rather than as on the 50D. And the new Multi-Function (M-Fn) button is just behind and left of the shutter release button. This button can be programmed to quickly adjust several camera parameters.

A new LCD design graces the back of the Canon 7D. Canon has eliminated the air gap between the LCD and cover glass by sandwiching a special optical elastic material between the LCD and the cover glass. This optical elastic material has the same high refractive index as the glass itself. The cover glass is also a reinforced glass instead of the acrylic used on the 50D and 5D Mark II, so they also eliminated the special anti-reflective and scratch-resistant coatings found on the other recent EOS cameras. The appearance of the LCD is indeed reminiscent of instruments like a liquid-filled compass, with added contrast and less glare. Better yet, it doesn't give your images a blue cast that makes color harder to judge, especially when outdoors with the 50D or T1i.

Also new on the back is the Quick menu button, which brings up the Standard status display, allowing easy navigation and adjustment of the various controls. Where the Live View activation button currently exists on the 5D and 50D, a new Raw+JPEG toggle button has been added, an innovation first seen on Pentax dSLRs. Whether you're in Raw or JPEG mode, pressing this button turns on Raw+JPEG for the next frame, then reverts to whichever mode you had active. Just lower left of the optical viewfinder are three holes for the speaker. Also new is the Live View/Movie mode switch and start button. When the surrounding switch is set to Live View, as shown above, the Start/Stop button enters and exits Live View mode. When set to Movie mode, the Start/Stop button starts and stops recording.

Because Canon moved the power switch to the upper left under the Mode dial, a new Quick control dial Lock switch was necessary, appearing lower left of the dial. Just upper left of this dial is the ambient light sensor, which the Canon 7D uses to automatically adjust the LCD backlight.


A significant upgrade to the Canon 7D is its 100 percent viewfinder coverage, something currently only available on a very few competing dSLR cameras, including the Pentax K7 and the Sony A900. Furthermore, the Canon 7D's viewfinder delivers 1.0x magnification.

The Canon 7D's pentaprism is quite a bit bigger than the Canon 50D's.

Much as we've seen in Nikon dSLRs, the Canon 7D now uses a Polymer Network LCD as the focusing screen, which includes 19 autofocus points that seem to appear from nothing, rather than the static AF points of old. That also means that gridlines can be turned on and off electronically, rather than requiring a system of interchangeable focusing screens and the 19 AF points can be clustered as needed.

In low light, a red LED comes on to illuminate the LCD's features, much like the Nikon system, only a little brighter in the early unit I used. In auto mode, the system would detect the light level rather rapidly and switch the LED off and on as light levels dictated. You could also turn this feature off or on.

Another new feature for Canon includes visible indication of focus tracking as a subject moves across the viewfinder. Canon notes that in very cold weather, the LCD might respond more slowly than the AF system itself is making changes, thanks to the reduced response of LCDs in cold weather.

And just like Nikons, the viewfinder gets darker and blurry when you pull the battery, since the liquid crystals go back to a relaxed state without power.

In Live View mode, the leveling feature is easier to understand and considerably more attractive. Looking much like an airplane's attitude indicator, with its artificial horizon line, the lines light up green when your pitch and roll have settled into a nice even state, as seen at right.

This view is also available on the rear LCD in a larger size without Live View mode active. In these latter two modes, the level displays 360 degree roll and 10 degree pitch in one degree increments. Pressing the Info button cycles through the available displays. The Dual-axis Electronic Level display is also available in the Canon 7D's Movie mode.


While Canon led the retreat in resolution for the sake of low-light image quality with the announcement of the 10-megapixel PowerShot G11 and S90 in mid-August 2009, the new Canon 7D continues the subframe dSLR's charge ahead to 18 megapixels, up from 15.1 in the Canon 50D.

The new CMOS sensor's 4.3-micron pixel pitch is the smallest Canon has included in a dSLR, but if the preliminary ISO results hold, they've improved their sensor performance and image processing sufficiently to handle the smaller size. Canon continues to use gapless microlenses, which are also said to be improved. Sensor dimensions are 22.3x14.9mm, with a 1.6x crop factor.

The Canon 7D's new sensor also required a boost in image readout speed, so it's fitted with an 8-channel readout, plus faster reading for each individual column. The 5D Mark II and 50D both have a four-channel readout.


Further increasing the overall throughput are the dual DIGIC 4 chips, making the Canon 7D the fastest sub-frame camera at this price, capable of capturing up to eight frames per second, with a burst depth up to 94 JPEGs. With a UDMA CompactFlash card, that average goes up to 126 JPEGs. You can also get 15 Raw images or 6 Raw+JPEG shots. All of these speeds are possible in the Canon 7D's native 14-bit A/D conversion mode, while the competing Nikon D300s slows from 7 frames per second in 12-bit mode to 2.5 frames per second in 14-bit mode.


Ranging from ISO 100 to 6400, plus a Hi setting of 12,800, the Canon 7D seems to improve on the image quality found in the EOS 50D. The dual DIGIC 4 processors should help speed processing, as well as the results.


The Canon 7D has a shutter mechanism that's rated at 150,000 cycles. Further, it's described as a rotary magnet shutter, the same design used in the Canon EOS 1v and the EOS 1D Mark II N and Mark III, but resized to fit the Canon 7D's APS-C sensor. This spec alone makes us want to describe the Canon 7D as the budget Canon 1D, as at least its frame rate makes it suitable for sports.

The shutter sound is quick and relatively quiet, without a bunch of winding and whirring, something I appreciate.

Remember, it was only four years ago, September 2005, that the professional Canon 1D Mark II N hit the scene, offering 10-Mp, APS-H sized images at eight frames per second for $4,000. Now you can get 18-Mp, APS-C images at eight frames per second for under $1,700 with the Canon 7D.


The Canon 7D's autofocus system has quite a few new features worth mentioning and some of them are related to the Metering system, which we'll get to in a moment.

First, as we've covered in brief, the AF system has 19 autofocus points, each of them a cross-type, optimized to detect both horizontal and vertical features with greater ease. In the center of the screen is the X-type sensor, designed to detect diagonal lines as well and also requires lenses of f2.8 or better, while the other points will work up to f5.6.

New to the Canon 7D is the ability to cluster AF points and move them around the screen. You can also select a finer point than usual, called a Spot point, choosing from all 19 across the screen.

There are so many autofocus options that it can become rather troublesome cycling through them. But Custom function III/6 allows you to disable the ones you don't plan to use so you can save time. A nice feature.

Canon is also making some interesting claims about the AI Servo AF system, which has a new algorithm that is expected to handle irregular movement better than the Canon 50D, which should mean better sports shots.

Another truly unique use of AI Servo technology is employed during Macro shooting. The new system can compensate and track so quickly with certain lenses that it can lock and track focus as you unconsciously move closer to and further from your Macro target, like a flower. It essentially adds a third dimension to any IS-capable lens.

And as you're tracking a subject that's moving rapidly, the new AF points will illuminate as your subject moves on the screen, further evidence that the Canon 7D has seen your target and is keeping it in focus.

We weren't able to make it work when we first had the prototype camera, but the idea of Orientation-linked AF was intriguing. You simply select the AF point you want to maintain -- say, the upper left point -- and when you rotate the camera from horizontal to vertical format, the Canon 7D remembers that you always want the upper left point and it selects that point. If we can get it to work more simply and successfully, we'll be pleased to have that feature at our disposal.


As I said, the Canon 7D's new AF system is tightly linked to the Metering system, much like recent Nikon systems and even the concepts are similar; but the uses are not the same. It all comes down to the Canon 7D's iFCL or Intelligent Focus Color Luminosity metering system.

First the new meter has 63 zones and they are linked to the 19 autofocus points. Sound familiar? The metering sensor has two layers: the top is sensitive to Red and Green and the bottom layer to Blue and Green. So it can measure a full spectrum of RGB, rather than just luminosity; and when it compares the data between the AF system and its own color system, the Canon 7D has a better understanding of the image area; not only what colors there are, but what is where.

Nikon uses this same type of data to track objects moving through the image area, augmenting their continuous focus mode. Canon does not. They have other fish to fry. First, they make up for the normal foibles of silicon sensors by detecting Red and compensating silicon's red sensitivity, which gives it a tendency to overexpose red objects. The Canon 7D's meter, now having color vision, can make the necessary change.

The Canon 7D also uses the color information to better identify objects, merging that information with the AF sensor data to calculate an object's total range of distances; in that way it can set the aperture to keep that object in focus, if desired.

The color information also becomes important when trying to focus more accurately when shooting under unusual light sources, like sodium lights, whose unusual spectrum often fools AF systems into backfocusing significantly. When light sources like these are detected, though, the Canon 7D can compensate.


The Canon 7D's built-in flash is able to cover a wider angle of up to 15mm, though its range is limited as a result, with a guide number of 39 feet at ISO 100. The Canon 50D's flash was able to cover 42 feet, but the extra wide-angle coverage will be appreciated nonetheless.

In another answer to a long-neglected Nikon capability, the Canon 7D is the first Canon able to control up to three groups of wireless flashes direct from the built-in pop-up flash, using E-TTL or Manual control.


The Canon 7D's Movie mode supports Auto and Manual exposure and multiple frame rates. Maximum resolution is 1920x1080 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio or Full HD. Other resolutions include 720p and 640x480 at 30 frames per second. How you activate your movies has changed from other recent models, with both Movie and Live View modes linked to a single switch and button combination, placed within easy reach of your thumb.

Movie mode on all dSLRs is not really ready to replace the family camcorder, however, because lenses don't focus quietly or quickly enough for the average consumer. As a result, we don't recommend you base a purchase decision on this feature alone. If you want to know a lot more about this feature, though, see our extensive writeup, complete with test videos, on the Canon 7D Video tab of this Hands-on Preview (


The Canon 7D is long overdue. It's been rumored for something like five years, though most of those rumors spec'd it as a full-frame camera. But I think this is just right: I don't think they could have included another important feature without making the Canon 7D look absurd. OK, maybe a real AF-assist lamp is all that's missing. Everything else is in there. Simple things like a Raw button, a programmable Multi Function button and a Quick-menu button for easy navigation on the rear Status display all make using the Canon 7D easier, without having to delve so often into the menus. And I think Canon may have figured out a good solution for Live View and Movie modes, building-in a button for both, with a switch to select between them.

Nikon users have for too long been able to get away with buying just one flash to create interesting lighting with their cameras, while Canon users have had to buy at least two to take advantage of the company's powerful wireless flash system. Now, with the wireless flash control built into the Canon 7D, Canon fans just have to buy one of the more expensive -- but certainly more affordable -- dSLRs in the lineup. Indeed, now you can have an 18-Mp digital camera that does eight frames per second for under $2,000! Before the 7D, you couldn't have one at any price.

This is the camera that Canon enthusiasts, indeed many camera enthusiasts, have been waiting for and I suspect it will sell very well. Check out the image quality results ( to see whether it's worthy. Our initial impressions are quite good.

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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: How to Find Your Photos

Our job as Ambassador of Every Technical Innovation Ever Conceived Having Anything Remotely To Do With Digital Imaging is to tout the accepted ways of doing stuff. You want to find a photo you took five years ago? Well, huff, huff, you should have keyworded your image collection.

Except when we are not the Ambassador, we are just an ordinary person who is looking for a photo we took five years ago. No, we didn't keyword them either. And yes, we have a few thousand of them to search through.

Ordinary people don't have time for every technical innovation ever conceived having anything remotely to do with digital imaging especially if it involves keywording.

But the other day, looking for a photo we took five years ago, we realized we were using a heretofore undescribed retrieval method that could, possibly, win us a Nobel prize.

And just to make it all the more fashionable, it's something of a hybrid method that relies on text to retrieve an image. Hybrids are all the rage now, at least until Tesla ( squeezes a battery into those Smart cars from Daimler (

The first thing we do is what we always did (and have described before). We store our photos in folders named with the date and a descriptive slug. Nothing fancy about it. Just "CCYY.MM.DD Slug" or "2009.08.31 Lake Tahoe" where "Lake Tahoe" could be a birthday or some other event.

That keeps the folders in order by date and gives us a very general idea of what's in them. It doesn't hurt that modern operating systems can display thumbnails of the images in those folders as you scroll through them.

But that's just not enough to find any particular image sometimes.

The slug can be (like keywords, come to think of it) a bit too generic. We might have three days of Lake Tahoe in there. And Lake Tahoe every year in August. But we want to find the photo from the time we babysat Tim Lincecum. How are we going to use the folder naming scheme to do that?

Well, we don't. That's what we realized the other day. We have to go to the folder naming scheme eventually to retrieve the photo, sure, but we have to go armed with a sort of rear vision goggle provided by a distinctly non-photographic technology. Text.

We're in the habit of keeping a shooting diary. When the day is done (and sometimes the day after, too), we fire up a simple word processor (but anything from a text editor to a page layout program will do) to elaborate on what we were shooting that day. And we name these diaries by month. So we may have 2009.08.diary floating around on our hard disk this month.

The advantage of this is that you can be verbose about what you were doing. "I cranked up the Casio EXILIM H10 for a few shots at Ocean Beach. Caught some surfers and a family barbecuing some whale meat that had washed up during low tide. Got a nice shot of a 1958 Plymouth Sport Suburban station wagon, too."

How long did that take to write? None at all. You could do it on a netbook or smart phone during a commercial break of whatever late night host grabs your fancy.

But it's immensely valuable when you have a lot of "Ocean Beach" slugs and you're trying to find that image of the whale barbecue or the Plymouth.

When that happens, we fire up a little text search utility (ours is the Mac freeware EasyFind from Devon Technologies) that can wade through the content of your files to find whatever phrase or word collection you are looking for. Spotlight does this on the Mac and no doubt there are Windows applications to do a text search, too. And if you really get stuck, you can roll your own with Perl or PHP and start a new career.

So we just search for "whale" or "Plymouth" in our diary directory and in the blink of an eye, we are rewarded with the diary filename which leads to the date and eventually to the folder name: "2009.08.31 Ocean Beach." A quick trip to the archive and we've got the image.

The trick is to be verbose in your text description but concise in your search request. Keep all the diaries in the same directory and break them up into months, naming them by date like your image archive folders.

There are definite advantages to keywording your images and building a catalog of your image collection, but as a famous heroine once observed as the world around her burned to the ground, "There's always tomorrow."

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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 Sony A850 dSLR at[email protected]@.eead6ba

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

Read about Nikon lenses at

Amy asks for photography tips at[email protected]@.eead6f5/0

Visit the Scanners Forum at[email protected]@.ee6b2ae

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Just for Fun: Shoot a Cliche

One thing you can count on when you ask 32,600 photographers in 900 cities to shoot for two hours is a lot of the same kind of shots. What's an irresistible composition to one is compelling to the rest.

Scott Kelby, who had to pick the final winners in his Photo Walk 2009 contest, identified a few "recurring themes" among the winning entries. It makes for an interesting 10 commandments (as in "Thou Shalt Not Shoot ..."):

OK, twelve commandments. It's never been easy to stay out of trouble.

In fact, you might combine a few of these to really make an impression. Imagine a homeless Photo Walk photographer on a train seen through a store window at the top of a stairway, the train crossing a bridge by an old church with children playing in a few rain puddles reflecting the sky by the cemetery statuary. And make that an HDR, too.

Having been exiled to an industrial area of the city for our own Photo Walk, we were only guilty of one reflection shot, although a sleeping homeless guy did tempt us. There were no flowers, store windows, bridges or churches. No trains, either, but plenty of motorized cable cars. And none of the other Photo Walk photographers would sign model releases. So we were pretty safe from cliche.

Statues are always a danger, though. They're hard to avoid. Like children.

A few things we thought might have made the list, didn't. Imagine:

Makes you wonder what the cutoff was, although it's easy to imagine Scott just got tired of seeing certain things over and over. We can see how a few images of churches would weary a man's soul, while a few hundred car shots might be considered inspiring, even relaxing.

We don't envy any judge. It's tough work. And generally unappreciated by all parties.

Which is why we brought Scott's list to your attention. If you can't be amazing, do try a little to be amusing. The effort will be appreciated.

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RE: Civilized Safaris

What a wonderful newsletter you guys have created. I know it's a lot of work, but I hope it's worth the effort.

I have a question. Somewhere -- and I thought it was in the newsletter -- was the mention of a Web site run by a photo pro, in which he suggests shooting locations in various cities, parks, etc. around the U.S. These locations were specifically chosen to be different than those where the "masses" photograph, thus providing refreshing new aspects of these well-known sites.

Do you know of this Web site? If so, I would love information about it. If not, thanks for your time.

-- Lew Hann

(That vaguely rings a bell, but it isn't something we've written about. Sounds more like something we would have seen on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider blog ( You mentioned cities or we would have thought of Lloyd Chambers's trips into the mountains ( And for our third guess, we're going with Michael Reichmann's workshops ( -- quite a few pros there. -- Editor)

RE: All Will Be Revealed

The Newsletter is always a welcome sight in my mailbox. I'm an old photo person with my own darkroom from black and white times, who discovered the compact camera a few years ago and really got to like Canon's versions with the side-mounted swivel screens.

For the last year or so, I've been waiting -- more and more impatiently -- for a dSLR with a side-mounted swivel screen from Canon or Nikon. I've been close to buying the Olympus E-620, but have been put off by what I've read about the image quality in low light. I also do quite a lot of macro.

Can you tell me -- please -- if there's any chance, later this year, of a really good dSLR with side-mounted swivel screen coming up? -- Jack Donen

(We couldn't tell you even if we knew, Jack <g>. Fair comment on the Olympus E-620's noise even at ISO 800 ( We would have suggested the Nikon D5000 but you want that hinge on the side. We did, too, but we've used a couple of bottom/top hinged articulated LCDs (on Sony digicams) that have impressed us. You can get the camera up and down low without moving the lens off the axis between our eyes and the subject. But side-hinged, you'd have room for a grip below. So it could happen. You might get a D5000 while you wait, though <g>. -- Editor)

RE: One Good Salute

Thank you and yours for an excellent task well performed. My first camera was a 120 Box Brownie in 1929. Last big one was a 4x5 Anniversary Speed Graphic. Still sorting, filing, storing a pile of about 4,000 35mm shots. My first 16 years were spent photographing about 30+ miles from your headquarters now (Decatur-Clarkston). As was once said by somebody, "It's nice people like you that make fighting wars and paying taxes almost pleasurable." Hang in, hang on. You're good and I learn from you every newsletter. And I'm pushing 86. Look me up on Google....

-- Otis Kight

(As a kid, we used to chase after a press photographer who used a 4x5 Speed Graphic we found fascinating. Especially the flash. We did Google you and, well, it's an honor to be writing for you, sir. And thanks very much for the kind words. These days, they are especially appreciated! -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Stanford professor Marc Levoy is working on an open-source digicam ( whose features like focus, exposure, shutter speed, flash, etc. would be controlled by free software created by "inspired programmers anywhere." The hardware design includes a Texas Instrument CPU running Linux, a Nokia N95 imaging chip and Canon lenses mounted on a custom body. With support from Nokia, Adobe Systems, Kodak and Hewlett-Packard, the project hopes to provide the hardware for less than $1,000. Well, there had to be a catch.

Leica ( introduced its $7,000 M9 full-frame rangefinder and $2,000 X1 subframe rangefinder with a fixed 36mm equivalent lens. The M9 is the fourth Leica to use a Kodak CCD sensor. Michael Reichmann ( has promised video interviews with Product Manager Stephan Daniel and Lens Designer Peter Karbe next week.

Kodak ( introduced the third generation of its all-in-one printers with the $129.99 ESP 3250 and $169.99 ESP 5250 Energy Star-qualified printers. The 3250 features a 1.5-inch color LCD and an SD/MS/xD memory card reader while the 5250 adds WiFi and a 2.4-inch LCD. We previewed the printers this week and were impressed with the new menu system. The printers use Kodak's low-cost pigment inks ($9.99 black and $14.99 color cartridges), which the company claims saves $110 a year compared to other inkjets.

HP ( said its $399 Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Web is now available at Staples, Best Buy, OfficeMax, and HP also introduced the HP App Studio ( for HP Print Apps.

As HP refines its software development kit for building Web apps, it announced partnerships with AOL, Flickr, Disney, CNET and 60 Minutes to bring Web-connected printing to the TouchSmart printer. At a briefing, HP told us this is just the first of several Web-connected printers. We saw a Disney app print coloring pages related to recent releases and the Tabbloid app reformat Web blogs into two-column output.

The company also showed us new shipping materials, foregoing plastic product wraps for reusable bags made of recycled materials. In fact, its $149 A640 5x7 compact printer will ship in a carrying case.

Also announced were a line of black all-in-one Photosmart printers sporting various options from the $129 C4700 to the $149 Photosmart Plus to the $199 Premium, in addition to the Premium with Touchsmart Web.

Along with using the Photosmart brand to identify compatible inks, the company told us it will be releasing cartridges with 30 percent more ink for a limited time later this year.

Epson ( has announced its Stylus Pro 3880, compact 17x22-inch printer available in a $1,295 Standard or $1,495 Graphics Arts edition with ColorBurst RIP in October. The new printer uses UltraChrome K3 inks with Vivid Magenta, an advanced print head and AccuPhoto HD2 image technology.

DxO Labs ( has released DxO Optics Pro 5.3.5 with support for the Sony Alpha 850, along with 85 new DxO Optics Modules and better noise control for images taken at high ISO with the Sony Alpha 900.

Datacolor ( has announced its $89 Spyder3Express monitor calibration system with both Mac and PC compatibility, along with unlimited license seats.

Nikon ( released updates for Capture NX 2 and Camera Control Pro 2 shortly before Snow Leopard was released then noted "incompatibilities with Nikon Capture NX 2, Nikon View NX and Nikon Scan" with the new OS.

Tom Hogarty ( warned Snow Leopard users not to reinstall Lighroom 2 from the original CD. "Each version of Lightroom we provide (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc) is a complete version of the product updated with the latest bug fixes and camera support," he wrote, so just install the update and grab the box only for your serial number.

The free JAlbum 8.4 [LMW] ( adds faster image scaling, instant preview, compressed uploading of albums, an album project list, support for variables in batch file renaming, a new album info window and more.

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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
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