Volume 11, Number 24 20 November 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 267th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. You have the luxury of a whole week to study our Gift Guides before Black Friday. The camera list even includes a few models whose reviews we've yet to publish. And please help support us by shopping through our Buy Now page at and our PriceGabber page at too. Thanks!


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

Once again the virtual water cooler has frozen over into its imitation of Rockefeller Center (would that be Zero Rock?) and the gang at Imaging Resource is reduced to staring at the mirror-like surface wondering who's the fairest of them all.

Fairest cameras, that is.

It's been an exciting year in the camera business with a flurry of new products in every division. A few cameras from last year's list survive in this year's all the same. While the gang at Atlanta scrambled to keep up with the high-end introductions, your editor did 20 digicam reviews (not all of which have been published on the site yet).

Even at that our own experience doesn't cover the gamut, so 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 and if 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.


Some cameras offer even the photographer who has everything something new. This year those gadgets include a camera with a browser, another that can composite a moving image against any background and one that captures more frames per second than anything else.

Sony G3 ( -- It's not just another sweet Sony ultracompact. It's a Web appliance. And even if the browsing experience isn't quite as delightful as using an iPod Touch, it works well enough to get a Google answer, check the N.Y. Times headlines or look for work on Craigslist. The Sony G3 can also handle WiFi uploads to select photo sites (including YouTube) and display images stored there as well. So you can, with WiFi access, instantly share images from an event like a wedding or a party. -- $500

Casio H10 ( -- Compact enough to take anywhere with a wide-ranging zoom and HD video capture, the Casio H10 really doesn't need any gimmicks to stand out from the crowd. But it has them. Dynamic Photo was fun but not something that will lead to a career, Landscape mode could go back to the drawing board, Make-up mode will endear you to your aging relatives, and there are Best Shot scene modes for just about any situation. $279

Casio FC100 ( -- How about stills at 30 fps and video (without autofocus) at 1,000 fps? Those capabilities do infringe a bit on ordinary shooting. And image quality, while acceptable, is not first rate. So if you're looking for one camera to put in your pocket, this may not be the one. But when you need a sand wedge, nothing else will do. $292


Our Fun in the Sun special this summer ( dove into the rugged and water-resistant pool of digicams, finding some buried treasure.

Pentax W60 ( The LCD is hard to see in sunlight but the images the camera captures were best in class, delivering 13x19-inch prints of decent quality across the frame. High speed capture is also a welcome option. -- $259

Panasonic TS1 ( -- You can take it anywhere, rain or shine, even underwater and you can even mistreat it and it'll still turn in better photos than many others. $337

Olympus Tough 8000 ( -- Its combination of "tough" features and ratings outranks anything else currently on the market, and it snaps photos with accurate color and better than average detail for its category. Drop it, crush it, freeze it or dive with it to 33 feet, and it'll keep on clicking. $361

Fujifilm Z33WP ( Kids will appreciate its sleek lines, cute-as-a-button styling and fast shutter response although image quality doesn't match the Olympus 550WP. -- $165


We didn't review any of the very inexpensive digicams this year. They tend to wrap up yesterday's limitations in a bundle whose main attraction is the sub $100 price. But for just a bit more, you can score a camera you will actually take out of the drawer.

Canon A2000 IS ( -- The Canon A2000 IS does a good job upholding the strong tradition of Canon's A-series cameras. Its 6x zoom lens shows very good optical quality and its 10-megapixel sensor delivers plenty of detail at low ISOs. It does take a while for the flash to recycle, but that's the only problem. $158

Canon SX120 IS ( You'll love the 10x zoom range that retains the fun of macro photography and you'll find every shooting mode you could possibly want, including all the manual ones. Movie mode remains standard definition in the HD era, but that's about all that's missing from this reliable gem that extends the joy of photography to first-timers while giving even experienced photographers plenty to play with. -- $210

Sony W220 ( -- A very good picture taking experience although the menu system and smooth skin took getting used to. But the more Dave shot with it, the more he liked it. "Most consumer-level users will be happy with the results produced by it." $160


These are popular just to look at if not to use but this year they are even fun to use.

Sony TX1 ( -- Great touchscreen digicam, period. It has plenty of other magic, too, starting with the new Exmor R sensor's increased light sensitivity, the responsive widescreen and some innovative shooting modes. Those include 10 frame-per-second shooting at full resolution, Anti-Motion Blur plus Handheld Twilight modes, Sweep Panorama, HD Movie mode and a quick intelligent Auto mode. $375

Canon SD990 IS ( -- A great companion that breaks the ELPH mold with a Manual mode that lets you set shutter speed and aperture independently of each other. The Servo AF tracking of moving subjects is a refinement with real benefits as is the improved face detection. And while the 14.7-Mp sensor may have some issues, it does still bring home details you wouldn't have seen with your naked eye. $278


Appreciated by more serious shooters who want a more convenient way to indulge their passion, these cameras offer a lot in a small package.

Panasonic LX3 ( -- A five-star pick in a three-star world, the LX3's 24mm wide lens is a lot of fun, giving the camera a slightly different personality from its closest competitors. And the quality of the images was an unqualified joy to behold. Which, in the end, is what really matters. $500

Canon G11 ( -- While a reduction from the G10's resolution, the 10-Mp G11 adds an articulated LCD and what Canon claims is a two-stop improvement in noise performance. All good. $499


You're going to China and want something that fits in your luggage but won't compromise what you bring home. These are them.

These two cameras are great travel companions because 1) they're compact and 2) they have 10x or greater optical zoom. It doesn't hurt to have full manual control and HD video, either.

Sony H20 ( -- Image quality was surprisingly good. There was the usual chromatic aberration common in 10x long zooms but the images seemed sharp corner-to-corner and color was good. That wasn't a surprise, but the color and detail at higher ISOs was. The Sony H20 simply captured some excellent images indoors and out. And with its range of options (like Manual mode and HD video), you can even play around a little, too. $265

Canon SX200 IS ( -- A 12x zoom that gets to 336mm, an image processor that can track faces in motion, a wide selection of recording modes including Manual, HD video with an HDMI port and more. Image quality, while suffering the usual small-camera blurry corners and chromatic aberration, showed surprisingly little distortion and accurate color. The big complaints are that the popup flash can't be closed and close-up focusing was not accurate (which can be impossible to detect on the LCD). $333


There seems to be a new 20x or 24x optical zoom digicam from every manufacturer this year. We spent the summer (and into the fall) reviewing them. Two stood out.

Sony HX1 ( -- Right out of the box you can get great results with the 20x optical zoom Sony G lens coupled to an Exmor CMOS sensor with sensitivity to ISO 3,200 using Programmed Auto, intelligent Auto, or Easy mode. But you can also get cute with Aperture and Shutter priority modes and Manual mode before you tap into some unique shooting capabilities like Handheld Twilight and Sweep Panorama. $464

Nikon P90 ( -- With very good build quality, a large articulated LCD, complete manual control plus a clever Sports Continuous mode, Nikon pluses like Active D-Lighting and Smart Portrait, and ISO sensitivity up to 6400, the P90 delivers more photo goodness than most of the competition. $378


This year really saw a lot of action in this new format with new introductions and revisions stirring up excitement. Here are the best of the new breed.

Panasonic GF1 ( -- Possessing nearly everything you want in a dSLR with the convenience of a smaller digicam, the GF1 is the most refined of the new category of small, interchangeable-lens cameras. $885

Olympus E-P2 ( -- Olympus has once again produced a nice little camera with personality and pretty darn good image quality, responding quickly to feedback on the E-P1. The most important change is the new Accessory port, which allows attachment of the EVF and the external mic jack. The addition of full Manual exposure control to Movie mode is also great for aspiring movie makers who don't want a stray flashlight beam to upset their exposure while making an X-Files fan film. $1,100


There's nothing like a dSLR for responsiveness. And nothing like it for seeing the world in a new way with just a different lens. Getting started, fortunately, is not as hard as it used to be.

Sony A330 ( No Movie mode but fast focusing in Live View with affordable lenses and accessories. Our choice for the discerning consumer photographer. -- $580

Canon Rebel XS ( -- The Canon Rebel XS is a very good camera for the money, especially with a good-quality image-stabilized lens. If you'll never enlarge above 8x10 or want to shoot low-light and indoor images that you'll enlarge to 11x14, the Canon Rebel XS is a very good choice at a very low price. $517


The weekend photographer interested in bagging great shots will appreciate these beauties.

Canon Rebel T1i ( -- The T1i offers quite a lot and it has an attractive, smart interface that's quite easy to learn and use. We expect Canon's top Rebel to be quite good, but the Canon T1i really pulls out all the stops, serving up a great user experience and excellent image quality. $765

Nikon D5000 ( -- Best described as a lower-cost D90 in a D60 body with a smaller set of available autofocus lenses, the D5000 has a few usability issues with the articulated LCD and autofocus in Live view mode and the D-Movie mode won't replace your camcorder. But what makes it great is its excellent overall performance as a still camera and its excellent image quality. $767


The dSLR sweet spot is in the subframe division, which delivers capable bodies and affordable lenses.

Nikon D300s ( -- The D300s seems to be more of an update that brings the enthusiast flagship up to the standards of more recent Nikon models, including the D90 and D5000, as well as taking on the Canon 50D and Pentax K7 with their HD Movie modes. Much has changed in the two years since the D300's launch and though its lustre had hardly faded, Nikon has successfully fended off any lingering doubts among those looking at a very capable field of HD-capable dSLR cameras with the Nikon D300s. $1,658

Canon 7D ( -- 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 a pleasure. And 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. This is the camera that Canon enthusiasts, indeed many camera enthusiasts, have been waiting for. $1,681

Pentax K-7 ( -- A very high-quality dSLR, offering a lot for a relatively low price. This is a camera you can learn and love, one that might spoil you forever from using another brand because its special features are so well thought out. We knew when we first held it and took our first pictures with it. $1,189


It's not just NASA and pros who find these state-of-the-art systems compelling.

Nikon D3S ( -- The Nikon D3X produces the highest image quality of any camera we've tested. Its combination of resolution, color fidelity, and noise performance puts it at the very top of its class. Not only does the Nikon D3X sport an amazing 24.5 megapixels of resolution, it manages to wring more detail out of those pixels (particularly in its NEF-format Raw files) than anything else out there. $7,499

Canon 5D Mark II ( -- The Canon 5D Mark II is indeed a premium digital SLR. It's not just the very high resolution that makes it stand out, but the excellent high ISO performance. And the addition of High-Definition movie mode opens up new avenues for enterprising photographers. High quality is one thing, but being able to deliver high quality over a wide range of lighting conditions and different ISO settings makes the 5D Mark II compelling. $2,618

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Feature: Grab Bag Gift Guide

You might think that in this day and age we would forsake our annual phone call to the North Pole requesting a little advice from the pros on gift giving. These days, why wouldn't we just follow them on Twitter?

Well, because busy people don't tweet, apparently. They have things to do. Elves always do.

We dialed the number as we always do, on the red Bell System rotary phone we bought from AT&T decades ago. It gives us time to think before we chat, a rare commodity.

"North Pole!" came the cheery reply to our ring.

"Hey, guys, it's Mike at Imaging Resource. Got a minute?"

"A minute?! Are you kidding? How about thirty seconds? We're on thirty second breaks through December 25."

We knew he was kidding. The only elves that take thirty second breaks work for the Internet. You have to hit Reload to wake them up sometimes.

"Seriously, we need some help down here with our Grab Bag recommendations," we professionally persisted. "Please!"

"Well, OK, sure, since you're incorrigible and all that," our elf laughed. "How many people are we talking about anyway?"

"Fifty thousand," we deadpanned. Elves are suckers for statistics.

"Is one of them Oprah?"

"We can't reveal that. But she's a voracious reader, you know."

"OK, let's deal," our elf gave in -- after about thirty seconds.


A wide variety of photography books are getting into print. Here we list the retail price with a link to our Amazon discounted price (which helps support this newsletter).

A few past recommendations are turning quickly into classics:




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.








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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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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's test methodology at

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

Allen asks about the EP-1 and EP-2 blur issue at:[email protected]@.eeaee6b/0

Read ongoing comments about a variety of lenses at

Visit the Beginners Forum at[email protected]@.ee6b2b2

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Dave's Deals

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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: Alice's Secret Source

So are you going to tell us the product name of the shower cap that Alice buys and which drugstore sells it?

-- Bob Cantor

(Go for the generic, it's cheaper and just as effective <g>. Kidding aside, we've asked her twice and she says she can't find them in Walgreens any more. Just colored ones. -- Editor)

RE: Epson V600

You noted, "Epson Scan also insists on auto cropping the image." I discovered that by simply turning off Thumbnails Preview the full image is captured. In my version of the Epson Scan interface this option is located under the Configuration menu.

So my query here is whether any of you would know if this option still exists with the Epson Scan software that comes with the V600? I am thinking of purchasing this product but only if I know that I can capture the full size of my slide images by shutting off Thumbnails Preview again.

-- John Mack

(Thanks for the tip, John. Epson Scan's Configuration button brings up a panel with four tabs. The Preview tab (the first one) has a Thumbnail Cropping Area slider with three settings: Small, (medium, not labeled) and Large. We set it to Large and got the full frame at last! -- Editor)

RE: A dSLR Wish List

Since I've never had a dSLR, I suggested my son check out your reviews to help him decide which one to buy.

He read the Cons for his first choice, the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and asked if I would pass on his question: What dSLR's do you recommend under $1,000 that are similar to the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, but do not have the limitations when shooting video.

I noticed in your review, that the Canon T1i won't autofocus continuously and it doesn't autofocus as quickly as we're used to our camcorders doing.

-- Bob Schuchman

(The T1i is better for stills but the $1,500 Panasonic GH1 is better for video. The $1,000+ Pentax K7 also shoots video in manual mode, but autofocus is limited. The Panasonic GF1 is smaller, less expensive, very nice and autofocuses while shooting, but it does not shoot video with full manual control and there's neither a stereo mic nor an audio input jack. So currently there's not really a clear winner with all you want at the price you're looking for. Spring might bring more complete video solutions, but only time will tell. -- Shawn)

RE: Lightroom 3 Beta

One important question about Lightroom 3; any mention of softproofing? That has been the biggest shortfall for me with Lightroom 2.

-- Larry Greenberg

(There's been some "spirited" discussion in the Adobe Lightroom Beta forum about it, but it's not in the beta. Hogarty did say many things were not in the beta. What is in the beta, he said, were the features they wanted feedback on. So, in short, we have no idea <g>. -- Editor)

RE: A Miracle

Last week, I had a major computer disaster when I installed Windows 7. I had moved all the photos on my C: drive to my D: drive, which had been used mostly for backups and storage. When I tried to create a new partition on the C: drive to install a dual boot for Windows 7, the software trashed everything on the drive.

Not to worry, I thought. I had backed up all my data files on a USB flash drive and all the photos were on the D: drive. But during the difficult process of installing Windows 7 on the C: drive, something happened which I still cannot understand. Whatever it was completely killed the D: drive. It is dead. Really dead. Is not recognized by either the BIOS or Windows. And I hadn't made a second backup of my 2009 photos to DVD since May.

There were some fairly important shots I had made for a new Web site that were lost and it would be difficult to re-shoot them. A data recovery company said their starting price for recovering data on the dead hard drive would be $289. And could be much higher.

This morning I woke up with a Eureka moment. The shots I lost might still be on the camera card, even though I had erased them about two weeks ago. Imaging Resource, I recalled, had said good things about some data recovery program to get photos off memory cards if they had not been written over. I downloaded PhotoRescue and amazingly everything I had lost was back. And for only $29, with some of it going to Imaging Resource. I can't think of anything I'd shot recently that wasn't recovered. The only thing shot since I last erased the card was my wife at the finish line of her first half-marathon and those photos apparently did not overwrite anything I had shot for the new Web site.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thanks again for providing an incredibly helpful resource. I teach basic digital photography classes at the local community center. I tell all my students they need to get familiar with your Web site if they really want to be photographers.

-- Clarence Jones

(Oh, we love happy endings, Clarence. Thank you! -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Aerial photographer Robert Cameron, whose work appears in 15 books in the "Above" series, has died at the age of 98. The family has asked people to honor him by attending Environmental Journey, his show at the Metreon in San Francisco with 59 large photo murals on environmental themes along the Pacific Rim ( We reviewed his 2005 retrospective in our April 15, 2005 issue.

Adobe ( has announced the Camera Raw 5.6, Lightroom 2.6 and DNG Converter 5.6 release candidates are available on Adobe Labs. The updates add Raw file support for 19 new cameras, including the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D3s, with additional DNG support for the Leica M9. They also fix the demosaic issue on PowerPC Macs.

Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro describes his most recent work for Nikon ( including the D3. He also reveals the origin of the red accent on Nikon bodies.

In association with the Library of Congress, the American Society of Media Photographers has launched ( to showcase "real-world solutions for preserving the quality and integrity of digital images; proven best practices that have been shown to produce superior results; and guidelines for streamlined production workflows."

The free Gimp for Mac OS X 2.6.7 ( site/News/News.html) is Snow Leopard compatible and now includes a 64-bit version for Mac OS X 10.6 plus a flurry of bug fixes.

Hany Farid, a Darmouth computer scientist, claims the famous image of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle in one hand and Marxist newspapers in the other was not faked ( Farid's team has developed digital forensic tools to uncover artifacts introduced by photo manipulators.

Phanfare ( has introduced HD video on the Web, allowing consumers to share and archive 720p HD video with friends and family. Video up to 2-GB or 20 min. is presented full screen, without advertisements.

onOne Software ( has released its $69.99 Photo Essentials 3 for Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 with improved color correction, additional image framing content and the new Make It Cool! module to give photos a professional look.

Kodak Gallery ( has launched a Facebook application to share Gallery photos directly to Facebook streams and profile pages.

The HP Holiday Gift Guide ( features PCs, printers, supplies, accessories and more divided into three categories: Stocking Stuffers, PCs under $599 and Ultimate Gifts.

The Photographer's Toolbox ( has released PLUS for Lightroom to embed Picture Licensing Universal System licensing metadata in images exported from the program.

Rocky Nook has published its $34.95 Build a Better Photograph by Michael Stern, an excursion into the creative process of an experienced professional photographer describing the development of a picture idea. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (

MacFixIt has posted iPhoto '09: Troubleshooting and maintenance tips (;txt).

Google has released Image Swirl (, an experimental Labs feature designed to make it easier to find related images on the Internet.

Nikon has published a release schedule for the Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility of its software applications ( Camera Control Pro 2 is expected first at the end of the month, followed by Capture NX 2 (at the end of December), Nikon Transfer and View NX (both at the end of January 2010).

The MacGraPhoto Bundle ( gets you GraphicConverter, DrawIt, GraphicDesignerToolbox, HoudahGeo, Picturesque, ImageFramer and Funtastic Photos for $39.99 (normally $251).

Akvis ( has released its $72 Sketch 10.0 plug-in [M] that converts photos into drawings, adding Snow Leopard compatibility, a Stroke Direction tool, an Edge Strength parameter in the Edges tab, improvements to the Preview window, three additional built-in presets and more.

Hamrick Software ( has released VueScan 8.5.39 [LMW] with support for new HP scanners and a few bug fixes.

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One Liners

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Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners:


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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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