Volume 12, Number 7 26 March 2010

Copyright 2010, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 276th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We explore the concept of computational photography before getting our hands on a Sony HX5V. Then we look over Adobe's update to its Lightroom 3 Beta. Quite a bit of news this time, too. It must be Spring.

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Feature: Computational Photography Makes Magic

We don't need a crystal ball to predict that a future version of Photoshop (what are you doing April 12?) will delight and enthrall (and perhaps disturb) photographers with new applications of computational photography.

Computational photography?

It's a fancy phrase for a process so common you've probably already used it without realizing it. Computational photography uses the data from an original photograph or set of photographs to render an image the camera itself could not capture.

The final product looks like a photo, walks like a photo and sounds like a photo. It just wasn't entirely captured by a camera. It was, in part, built by a computer program.

It may sound like ordinary image processing but techniques like image scaling, tone mapping, image compression and watermarking are, by convention, not members of the club.

Computational photography has been a hot topic in academia (Stanford and MIT, for example) since 2004. But recent releases of image editing software and new camera designs have increasingly tapped into this wizardry.


There are two feature sets in digital cameras that owe their existence to computational photography.

In-camera panorama stitching is the first. It's a feature of several Kodak and Sony digicams, to name just two. A series of images are taken and then stitched into one wide panoramic image beyond the scope of the camera itself to capture in one shot.

The second is represented by the Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur modes on the Sony HX5V reviewed below. Both of these modes take a handful of images with a single press of the shutter button, composite them in the camera and record a single image. Handheld Twilight delivers an image in impossibly low light with very little noise while Anti Motion Blur eliminates the effect of ghosted images (moving subjects) in long exposures.


While Adobe has been previewing content-aware fills using its PatchMatch technology (, the company has already delivered features based on computational photography first with HDR processing in Photoshop CS2 and then with content-aware scaling and extended depth of field in Photoshop CS4.

content-aware scaling protects the people in an image as you reduce or expand the sea and sky around them, changing the aspect ratio of the image. It ingeniously adds sky or beach or whatever you need to stretch an image horizontally. And can just as easily remove it -- seamlessly.

Adobe has extended the concept from scaling to fills with PatchMatch.

We caught a glimpse of it during the presentation by Kevin Connor, Adobe product manager for all things digital, at the Photoshop Anniversary Party (

He took out a figure leaning against a stone wall, for example, and filled the hole with stones. Instantly. And he stitched a panorama that resulted in a very uneven border that PatchMatch credibly built out to the edges.

Photoshop Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes also demonstrates ( just what you can do with it, removing a heavy tree branch from the sky over a landscape and removing a roadway from a desert scene.

This is a great thing for advertising photography and urban images often ruined by an unfortunate overhead wire or telephone pole, no doubt.


As Stephen Johnson wrote in On Digital Photography, "There is nothing new about altering photographs."

But we can increasingly alter them in less obvious but more dramatic ways. Does enhancing photo illustration make photojournalism less reliable? How can we tell the straight shot from the doctored one?

Adobe has long been working for many years with Dartmouth to develop image forensic techniques ( which can determine if an image has been edited. At one time, these tools were intended for Photoshop but not even Photoshop Extended offers them today. But at the very least, Adobe is aware of the issue.

Nikon's $649.95 Image Authentication Software ( can verify whether a JPEG, TIFF or NEF taken with a compatible Nikon dSLR has been processed or edited after capture. The camera encodes a digital signature into the image data itself (not the Exif header) that the software can read.

Photographs were never entirely reliable witnesses but computational photography may dramatically shift our presumption of their basic veracity.


On the other hand, once you've embraced computational photography, it isn't long before you hunger for more data.

Captured Raw images store the red, green or blue data for any pixel. JPEGs store red, green and blue data for any pixel. But that's it.

What if the RGB values stored were not the only information an image file contained for each pixel? What if that simple set of values were expanded to included distance, direction of light and a few other factors?

In his article on computational photography for American Scientist (, Brian Hayes describes an image format in which more than color channel data is recorded for each pixel.

"A digital camera sensor registers the intensity of light falling on each photosite but tells us nothing about where the light came from," he writes. "To record the full light field we would need a sensor that measured both the intensity and the direction of every incident light ray. Thus the information recorded at each photosite would be not just a single number (the total intensity) but a complex data structure (giving the intensity in each of many directions)."

Ah, a complex data structure. Now you're talking.

Except that, as Hayes goes on to say, no sensor at the moment can actually record all that.


There's no question computational photography adds powerful editing technology to the toolbox, either in the camera or on the computer. The question is just whose toolbox? The photographer or the illustrator?

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony HX5V User Report

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

While it's hard to resist comparing the $349.99 Sony HX5V to other digicams, every attempt we've made feels like we're slighting the HX5V.

It certainly looks like several of them. It's nearly identical, at least front the front, to the Panasonic Lumix ZS7. And at dueling distance you could easily mistake it for the Canon S90 or, if it were red, a Canon SX200.

And if you go deeper than looks, it even shares a few unusual features with digicams like the Casio FH100.

But all these similarities match just one or two features of the Sony HX5V. As Sony likes to put it, the company's strength comes from making its own lenses, sensors and processors. The Sony HX5V combines the best of all three -- a Sony G lens, Exmor-R sensor and Bionz processor -- to deliver a different photographic experience.

That experience isn't quite the one everybody is looking for, though. You know, the simplicity of a point-and-shoot with the quality of a dSLR. There's simplicity and there's quality in the Sony HX5V, but that's just the starting point. The experience itself takes you places other cameras just don't go, no matter their size.

Is it for everyone?

Sony says it designs for those niches in the market that aren't well served. You might think that means just a few people. But there are, apparently, quite a few people who are dissatisfied with the results they get from their current digicam and would love a camera that can deliver better looking pictures without requiring a few semesters at photo school.

The Sony HX5V -- with built-in GPS, 1080i HD video recording plus HDMI output, 10 fps continuous mode, special shooting modes like iSweep and Handheld Twilight modes -- will give them something to think about.


There are three main still modes: Easy, Intelligent Scene Recognition and Programmed Auto. There is one Manual mode (no Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority). There are several unusual modes including Anti Motion Blur, Handheld Twilight, Backlight Correction HDR. Then there is Scene Selection. And Movie mode. And finally iSweep Panorama mode.

Easy mode displays simple instructions on the LCD with the camera under automatic control, relying on Intelligent Scene Recognition to set the camera options. Preview mode is also simplified. Menu options use very large type and are greatly reduced. For example, only Image Size (Large or Small options) and GPS settings (On or Off) are available. Flash options are limited to Auto or Off, as well.

Intelligent Scene Recognition mode automatically detects nine different types of scenes and, within 1/30th of a second, selects the appropriate camera settings. The nine scenes include Backlight, Backlight Portrait, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Twilight using a tripod, Portrait, Landscape and Macro.

iSCN has two modes: Auto and Advanced. In Auto Mode, the camera takes a single shot using optimized settings. In Advanced Mode, the camera takes a photo with optimized settings and, if the lighting is difficult (either low light or back light), it immediately takes a second photo with different settings so you can choose between them.

Program Auto selects the shutter speed and aperture automatically, letting you adjust overall exposure using the EV option in the menu system.

Manual mode lets you select between the Sony HX5V's two apertures and any shutter speed from 30 seconds to 1/1600 second. Press the OK button to change the displayed values using the arrow keys.

Anti Motion Blur captures six images in a fraction of a second at a higher shutter speed than a single exposure would call for. It then composites the six images into one, building the equivalent of a long exposure but avoiding the side effect of subject blur. And it does this without requiring a tripod, aligning the images precisely.

Handheld Twilight is, we must insist, misnamed. This is not something you'll only use at twilight. Here in the fog of San Francisco twilight is never guaranteed, but we use HHT all the time because we love shooting in low light. It's really Handheld Low Light mode.

Again the Sony HX5V captures six images (it seems to be a maximum of six, but Sony says six period) in a fraction of second as you handhold the camera. Then it composites those images into one image that is surprisingly sharp and devoid of noise.

The sharpness comes from careful alignment and the noise reduction from averaging the values of the pixels in the same location on each shot. Brilliant.

What you get are images you otherwise would never be able to capture. You can shoot in the dark (and we did). You can shoot in candlelight. You can shoot in streetlight. The only catch is that the subject itself must not be moving. Much. More about this in the Shooting section.

Backlight Correction HDR is another mode that relies on the Bionz processor to composite an image. In this case the Sony HX5V takes two shots at different exposure settings, one for highlights and one for shadows, before building one image with the best of both, extending the density range of the shot.

This is Sony's answer to the backlighting problem where your subject is in the shade of a brighter background light like a sunset or a window, a situation which normally captures a silhouette, not the person you thought you were photographing.

But it obviously has many other uses. We think of it as HDR mode. Not the stylized HDR effect Photomatix users foist upon innocent bystanders, but an actual high density range mode that extends tonality with detail beyond what Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization contains.

Scene modes include High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Advanced Sports Shooting, Gourmet and Pet.

Movie modes. The Sony HX5V has five movie modes. For the highest quality, it offers AVCHD recording at 1920x1080 and 60 fields per second. There is also a 1440x1080 AVCHD subsampled 16:9 mode. AVCHD captures more detail and records smoother movement while minimizing file size. But you can also record HD video in MP4 mode at 1440x1080, 1280x720 or 640x480, all at 30 fps.

Sony claims the Bionz processor can deliver "a superior level of image smoothness" with optical SteadyShot in "Active" Movie mode. You can walk, ride or jog as you record and the scene will be stabilized. We tried it walking down a steep trail and found the video was not as disorienting as we expected.

iSweep Panorama is the last option on the Mode dial but the one that's the most fun. We really need the manual for this one because we kept goofing it up by panning too slowly. But the game is played by sweeping from one side to the other (or up and down or down and up: you use the menu system to indicate which way you're going) as the camera grabs 100 shots and stitches them together in one second.

Playback is dramatic. Press the OK button and the camera plays the image back at full height, panning just as you did when you took the shot. And if the LCD isn't big enough for you, it works the same way on your HDTV.

This version of the feature is more intelligent than the first release last year. It can detect faces and moving objects, stitching in the faces and skipping the moving subjects to avoid distortion. It can also automatically adjust capture speed for a smoother image. And the sweep can now extend to 270 degrees, another 100 degrees from the HX1. It seemed to composite better, too.

GPS, Compass. The Sony HX5V has a built-in GPS radio. See our last newsletter ( for a comparison of Sony's GPS implementation to Panasonic's.


From this scattered description of the Sony HX5V, it may not be obvious how Sony's own lens, sensor and processor combine to deliver some marvelous benefits. That's especially true because some of them, like SteadyShot image stabilization and Dynamic Range Optimization, are just enabled and configured without a menu item to highlight them.

To rectify that situation lets follow a photon through the Sony HX5V to see what Sony technology does to it.

The G lens is the point of entry and it's no tiny compact lens. With 10 elements in 7 groups including 4 aspheric elements, it's more of a photographic tool than any but long zoom digicams offer. No surprise, either, because G lenses are used in Sony's dSLRs and prosumer HD camcorders, too. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization smooths the effects of camera shake.

Next, our little photon hits the Exmor-R CMOS sensor. You've been told over and over that the larger the sensor the better the light-gathering ability. That means higher ISOs with lower noise.

But the Exmor-R is a small sensor. And yet Sony measures double the light-gathering ability of similarly-sized sensors. How can that be?

A conventional sensor is a sandwich of technology. On top are small lenses that bend the light into a red, green or blue color filter. Below the filter is where all the electrical connections reside with narrow channels for the photon to pass through to the light-receiving surface on the photodiode on the bottom layer. The wiring layers, used for signal propagation, rob the photodiode of light.

On an Exmor-R sensor, the top layer is still the on-chip lens over a color filter, but the light-receiving surface and photodiode are moved above the electrical connections. Noise is reduced and nearly twice as much light gets to the photodiode.

Now things get interesting for our photon. The Exmor-R sensor passes it on to the Bionz processor. It's like being sent to a spa.

If you were in Burst mode, you can capture 10 frames a second at full resolution. If you were in iSweep Panorama mode, 100 shots are stitched together in under a second. If you were in HDR mode, two shots are composited. In Handheld Twilight and Anti Motion Blur modes, up to six images are composited. And even if you were just in Easy mode or Program Auto, Dynamic Range Optimization made sure your highlights weren't blown out and your shadows didn't muddy their detail.


Shooting with the Sony HX5V is not the same kind of fun you can have considering the focal length, ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your dSLR. It's a different kind of photography, much like snow boarding is a different winter sport than cross country skiing.

And, in fact, in can be a little unnerving to cede as much control to the camera as the Sony HX5V takes. The tweaks you're used to making just aren't available.

So, you might wonder, what do you do with the thing?

The first thing we did was take some absurdly low light photos in Handheld Twilight mode. We had some flowers on the dining room table, dimmed the halogen lights and took a shot. The white balance was crazy, so we dove into the menu system, set the white balance by aiming at a napkin and took another HHT shot. Bingo!

That was too easy, we thought. What about doing a macro in HHT? And just to make it interesting, let's shoot a label on the minerale bottle. No way that will line up and no way we'll get any depth of field.

Oh were we wrong. So wrong. We doubled over laughing. Smart little camera. We got the picture we wanted instead of the picture we expected.

The next day, we did a series of low light shots of the dolls: the gallery shots YDSC00019 through YDSC00026. Disregard the Exif display, you'll need a program to tell the modes. Here they are: HDR, HHT, Scene High ISO, Program ISO Auto/400/800/1600/3200.

What can we learn from this? A few things.

That HDR shot two images at ISO 800 while HHT shot six at ISO 3200 for one thing. Why ISO 3200? Because compositing the six shots, the Sony HX5V had no fear of ISO 3200 noise and it was able to use a faster shutter speed of 1/10 second (SteadyShot to the rescue there, too, BTW).

Oddly enough, shooting in Scene mode at High ISO also used ISO 3200 but at 1/8 second. We prefer the tonality of the HHT shot to the High ISO shot.

That takes us to Program Auto on the Mode dial (where we usually shoot), manually stepping through the higher ISO options. The first interesting thing to notice is that Auto is capped at ISO 400 even though at 0.6 second shutter speed we ended up with a blurry image.

ISO 800 at 0.4 second is still too slow a shutter speed but at ISO 1600, the shutter gets into SteadyShot range at 1/10 second. That's a darker shot than the ISO 3200 shot at 1/10 second, though.

Low light conclusion? Use HHT. It works.

Another thing that was apparent right from the start was how useful the shutter sound was for these longer exposures. You can actually hear if the shot is too long for a good handheld result and switch to another mode.

The next shot on the gallery page is a macro of an old carpenter's pencil captured at f3.5. There are two things we loved about this shot. The first is that we didn't have to switch into Macro mode. The camera did that automatically. The second is that the depth of field is unusually generous for a macro shot. It was the shot we wanted, not the one we expected again.

Five shots from the Photoshop anniversary party at the Palace of Fine Arts follow the macro shot. Three of them are of the Palace itself in the fog at night. These shots include GPS data (in case you don't know where the Palace is). They also show HHT in operation.

It's interesting to note that the Sony HX5V elected to disable DRO for these shots. And that the camera knew it was a night scene.

When we went into the theater, we tried a few settings before settling on Program Auto, ISO 800 (because Auto is capped at ISO 400) and -1.7 EV (to accommodate the stage lighting). We weren't close to the podium. The Exif data doesn't include distance data but you can see from the focal length that we're at the full telephoto position.

When we shot these pictures we really didn't think we were getting anything usable. We really should have been closer but we would rather have streaked the stage than sauntered up below Scott Kelby with a point-and-shoot and blocked the Knoll brothers, Jeff Schewe, Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland and every other Photoshopping legend in town to take a few closer shots of the speakers.

It was only when we processed the images for the story that we marveled at how well ISO 800 stood up. The 250 pixel head shots that ended up in the story are themselves reduced, of course. But the gallery shots show the full resolution story. The shot we wanted, certainly not what we expected.

Our next excursion was a visit to the Rumbolino, getting a little deferred maintenance at Daytona Motors. We turned on GPS and took a long walk, for the most part shooting in Program Auto and enjoying both the 25mm and 250mm ends of the lens.

YDSC00102 is an HDR shot, the exception, but the scene called out for it. Normally, you'd expect the sky to go white and the road above to be devoid of detail. But in this case we got what we wanted.

The walk ends with a close-up of a flower. Again, not having to worry about when to switch to Macro mode makes this kind of thing a real pleasure. One you can enjoy any time.

Our next excursion was up Twin Peaks to shoot the zoom range shots. Again, GPS was active. The GPS tags and typical values reported by the camera are shown at right.

On the way up, we took a lot of macro shots. The purple flowers are backlit and our posture was unsteady, still the shot is crisp at 1/160 second. We hadn't expected that. Color on the shot of the poppy is just right, deep but not overly saturated. We did have trouble with some red flowers in the rain (which were oversaturated) but red is a problem in general.

There are the usual zoom shots, which include the 2x traditional digital zoom (500mm equivalent).

And then there is an iSweep Panorama. Two, actually. One shot using a 4:3 aspect ratio and another using 16:9. Stitching seemed better in the Sony HX5V than last year's version of Sweep Panorama. We finally figured out we could fill the panorama frame (which seems to be a fixed size no matter how you pan) by moving across the scene faster.

More close-ups and one wide-angle of a row of logs with a bike rider resting at the top of the hill, a nice shot that came together with DRO in the blink of an eye. That's something you can do with the Sony HX5V that a more involved camera would take much longer to accomplish.

We reviewed these shots on an HDTV using the included HDMI adapter. This particular HDTV has one (occupied) HDMI input, so we merely borrowed the other end of the cable, attached it to the adapter and plugged the adapter into the connector on the bottom of the Sony HX5V. Then we pressed the Playback button to turn the camera on and switched inputs on the HDTV until the HDMI connection was being read. Very simple.

Sony has a wonderful slide show presentation (in addition to a straight slide show option) with music and various styles available. We just used the arrow keys, though, to linger over our shots. They were crisp with excellent color.

But the one thing we got a thrill out of were the pano shots. Press the OK button and the shot scrolls from left to right like Ken Burns was your uncle. On an HDTV this is breathtaking.

Stills don't zoom well, though. It seems we weren't getting the full resolution of the image. An Exif tag gives a clue: MPImageType is "Large Thumbnail (full HD equivalent)" -- suggesting for HD display only the thumbnails are transmitted. The Multi-Picture Format to which this tag refers is documented by CIPA (

Movies played very nicely on the big screen, too.

The final three shots in the gallery were taken on a rainy day. We didn't expose the camera to a downpour but it held up well in the elements. It isn't waterproof, but it's nice to know you can use it if you're cautious.


Turn on the Sony HX5V, compose the image and fire. Don't worry about the settings except to ask yourself if you should be in Program Auto, HDR, HHT or iSweep Panorama. And maybe 4:3 or 16:9. Then let the camera take it from there.

You'll be as surprised as we were when you get the picture you wanted instead of the one you expected. The Sony HX5V will capture what you saw, what attracted you to the scene, not what a camera sees through its tiny lens, crammed on its tiny sensor and massaged with brass knuckles by its image processor. The Sony HX5V makes few excuses.

And a camera that makes few excuses is a great traveling companion. You don't have to worry about choosing between a wide-angle zoom and a long zoom because the compact Sony HX5V starts at a very wide 25mm and stretches to a barely hand-holdable 250mm. You can get the interior of a chapel or, just as easily, that faraway castle.

And when you're in that dark little chapel, you can switch to the Sony HX5V's Handheld Twilight mode and actually get the picture. It's great for museums, too, where flash is verboten and tripods proibito. There's even a Gourmet Scene mode to record your culinary adventures, too.

Comparing prints from the Sony HX5V, Canon SX200 and Panasonic ZS7, the latter two had more detail at low ISOs and large print sizes. The Sony's ISO 100 shots looked good up to 13x19, but its two 12-Mp competitors held up at 16x20. At ISO 400 and above, though, the three models were pretty much equal. And printing an uncropped image at letter-size or smaller probably won't show any difference.

In short, the Sony HX5V is a Dave's Pick if there ever was one.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Adobe Updates Lightroom 3 Beta

If it took Adobe a long time to release the second beta of Lightroom 3 it may have been because the company was listening to what over 350,000 photographers were telling it about the first release.

That first October 2009 release, according to Product Manager Tom Hogarty, introduced a new "performance architecture" designed for growing image collections of larger image files. The Raw processing engine was also overhauled "right down to the fundamental demosaic algorithms."

At the same time, a few other items like video imports were not done. When I sat down with Tom after his San Francisco Photo Walk last summer, video was the furthest thing from his mind.

But it's included in the second beta (, released earlier this week.


After sifting through all the feedback to the initial release, Adobe has added quite a few other new features to the new beta, which remains a free download with no license number required. Here's a list of the more important improvements in beta 2:

Speed. Performance has been improved throughout the application, especially for faster importing and loading of images from the filmstrip in Library mode. Zooming is also faster, despite large file sizes.

Tethered Shooting. Native tethered shooting is now supported for select Nikon and Canon dSLRs, including the Nikon D90, D5000, D300, D300s, D700, D3x, D3X and D3 plus the Canon 450D, 500D, 1000D, 1Ds Mark II/III, 1D Mark III/IV, 5D, 5D Mark II, 40D, and 7D -- with more support planned for the commercial release. Just plug in your dSLR via USB or Firewire and start a tethered session to view key camera settings, control the shutter release or apply various metadata and develop settings to incoming images. No need for a watched folder or intermediate software. And you can shoot a color target, set white balance and have it apply to all subsequent shots without having to do that later in post. Matt Beardsley's blog entry ( shows tethered shooting with his D3.

Expanded Noise Reduction. Luminance noise reduction has been added to the previous color noise reduction improvements of the first public beta. Luminance adds sliders for Luminance Noise, Detail and Contrast to Color's Color Noise and Detail sliders. Detail works as a threshold slider and Contrast recovers some detail.

Video Support. You can now import and manage video files from dSLRs. In the grid and loupe views, the duration of a video file is presented on the preview of the video content. Playing video files is just a click away. Support for AVCHD is apparently not included, but otherwise the distinction between dSLR and digicam video escapes us.

Import. Improvements have been made to the import experience in the first beta to reflect public feedback. Full screen import has been implemented. Visible folders have been optimized to just the ones you want to see.

Watermarking. Watermarking has been improved. Accessible in all output options (including the Slideshow module), you can use either text or graphics (JPEG and PNG are supported), change the opacity, resize the watermark, align it to various parts of the image with offsets or anchors and save all these settings as a preset. Text options now include shadow controls for opacity, angle, offset and radius (except in the Windows version).

Point Curve. Curves now includes a Point Curve option so it works like Photoshop's Curves command.

Crop Orientation. Tap the X key to change the orientation of the crop tool.

Publish Collections. The Publish Collections command now includes enhanced options for setting the Flickr Title field, the ability to designate the target file size for exported images and support for exporting original video.

Vignette Styles. Lightroom's original post-crop vignette style has been restored. Three vignette styles are now available: Highlight Priority (default), Color Priority (avoid hue shifts) and Paint Overlay (the original).

Slideshow. Previews can be prepared in advance so the show isn't interrupted waiting for image information to render.

Print Resolution. Maximum print resolution is now 720 pixels per inch, up from 480. Photographer Jeff Schewe ( discovered that new printers making smaller prints from high resolution files on glossy paper delivered improved results up to but not exceeding 720 ppi. So Lightroom 3 beta 2 has 720 ppi.

Print Package. Layout tools include a Rotate to Fit and Rotate Cell command.

Web Module. Developers can now use ActionScript3 ( Flash galleries in the Web module.


A couple of further notes on the new release:

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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 the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at[email protected]@.ee9b16a

Visit the Canon Forum at[email protected]@.ee6f773

Carolyn asks about the Nikon D5000 at[email protected]@.eeafb61/0

Read about a variety of lenses at

Visit the General Q&A Forum at[email protected]@.ee718ec

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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: Two Simple Questions

First, I have no desire to carry a computer while on vacation but am interested in a way to make easy backups. Do you have thoughts on either the Memory Kick SI, Nexto Extreme 3 or similar devices?

Second, after years of owning Dell computers and monitors I bought an HP system which included an HP w2558hc monitor. The problem is a marked difference in brightness at the top of the screen and the bottom. In Photoshop I'm trying to make balanced color corrections but the top of the picture is 30-40 percent darker. Spent several months wasting time with HP service. They sent me a replacement with the same problem and HP monitors I have viewed in stores have the same problem. The HP service people cannot even understand why it's a problem. Do the monitors brands mentioned in your most recent newsletter have even brightness top to bottom?

-- Base Guiley

(1. Buy two. Copy to both. You have a backup. Single copies of what's on your memory card just don't qualify as a backup for us. And just using a new card when the old one fills up is only a single copy, after all. We still bring the laptop (having Internet access is worth it), copying to cheap USB drives and external drive. But if you're visiting people you know, copy to their hard drive (to burn DVDs, say)... 2. That monitor is lit by fluorescents along the top and bottom, so you may be seeing light leakage around the bezel on top, which can be remedied with tape (if you or a repair shop take the thing apart as they do here: The monitors that won Oscars do not exhibit that kind of flaw. And if one even tries, just return it. It isn't acceptable. -- Editor)

RE: Picasa Problem

I received over 100 vintage photos from a co-captain who has difficulty working with a computer and sent them via Picasa. It is impossible to contact Picasa. I am trying to download these photos to place on my hard drive. Also I need to make them larger as they were sent very small.

-- Captain Paul J. Holsen II

(Sounds like your accomplice in this crime set up a free 1-GB Picasa Web Album to share the vintage photos with you. You can download Picasa albums (or individual photos) if you have Picasa installed on your own computer (or the album uploader for Macs) and if the album owner enables visitor downloads (on the Privacy and Permissions tab of the Settings page). To get the full resolution images stored on the server (which, again, may not be high resolution), Picasa says to use the Download to Picasa or Download Photo options. So you can get the whole album on your hard disk if your friend enables that option but the images may not be very large if they resized them. More about Picasa Web Albums here: -- Editor)

What a pleasant surprise to hear from you on Saturday, thank you. I've been a pilot for 55 years and go back before then as a kid as the airline pilots in Honduras would come to our brewery to have a beer before dinner. A few of them are still around at 88-95 in age and know I want to preserve that era so they are sending me photos which I plan to make into a picture book and a PBS special in Latin America.

I will try your approach as I need to conserve these photos. By the way, in my collection have several glass negatives. I did an Epson V700 scan and they came out great.

I always carried a camera and 16mm camera with me in the cockpit and my kids now do the same so I send your newsletter to them and they have learned much.

-- Paul

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Editor's Notes

Adobe ( has announced a global online launch event for Creative Suite 5 on April 12 at 8 a.m. Pacific time. The company said it will "announce the top new features of each CS5 suite, Photoshop, and our new CS Live online services." To register, visit

The company also announced the release of Lightrooom 3 beta 2 ( Among the new features are luminance noise reduction, tethered shooting, performance improvements and many other enhancements detailed in our feature above.

Apple ( has released Aperture 3.0.2, 1 69.83-MB download to improve overall stability and fix a few problems. It previously released Aperture SlideShow Support Update 1.1 to address "an issue affecting the playback of HD video clips used in Aperture 3 slideshows on Snow Leopard."

The Impossible Project (, led by Austrian artist Florian Kaps who took over an old Polaroid factory in Holland, has begun selling black and white PX 100 Silver Shade Instant film for the SX-70 and 600 series cameras at $21 a pack. Color film is promised for later this year.

InVisage ( has announced it will make sensors using its QuantumFilm, a layer of semiconductor material using quantum dots. Combining the new material with a more efficient physical design will yield a 4x improvement in light sensitivity for cellphone cameras, the company said.

Think Tank Photo ( has announced its $599 extra large Logistics Manager rolling camera case to hold multiple bodies, lenses, accessories and lighting equipment.

Tamron ( has announced its 2010 Photo Contest Two: Backyard Wildlife. The contest runs from April 1 (ahem) to June 30 with a Grand Prize of one of these Tamron lenses: SP AF60mm F2 Di-II 1:1 Macro; SP AF10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II; SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Di-II VC; or AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC.

DxO Labs ( has added 70 new lens & camera combinations to its library of DxO Optics Modules.

BBC Wildlife Magazine ( has published the complete collection of its Photo Masterclasses as free PDF downloads.

Need an inexpensive lens hood? Download a PDF pattern ( and print it, cut it out and attach it to your lens with a rubber band.

The Cloak Bag ( is a lightweight camera bag without a bottom so you can take photos without revealing you're carrying a camera.

The de Young museum in San Francisco is showing Posing as Art: Photographs, 19th Century to Now ( through April 25, a selection of rarely seen portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton, Thomas Eakins, Lewis Hine, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Robert Frank.

Canto ( has released Cumulus 8.1.1 with support for Cumulus Sites (a Web interface to public catalogs), the InDesign companion, a permissions summary available within the Cumulus client and transformations of XML metadata into other formats.

LrSaver (, the Lightroom Screensaver, is now shipping in a Mac version.

Nik Software ( has announced its first Nik Summit will be held in San Deigo May 13-15 for $599.95. From guided shooting sessions at famous San Diego locations to seminars and hands-on lab sessions with top Nik trainers, attendees will learn from pros like Douglas Dubler, Vincent Versace, Tony Sweet and Rick Sammon as well as experience evening "fireside chats" with top working photographers from all over the country.

Zenfolio ( has released myZenfolio, an iPhone app to manage and share photos hosted on Zenfolio. It also provides users with a mobile front-end to professionally manage their photographs on the go.

Isabella Products ( has announced its $279.99 Vizit two-way cellular photo frame with touch screen technology, a 10.4 inch display and an intuitive interface. The device includes either a Basic cellular plan at $5.99 a month for up to 100 photos or a Premium plan for $79.99 a year and up to 1,450 photos.

We note the passing of photojournalist Charles Moore at the age of 79 ( In 1963, he captured police using high-pressure hoses and dogs against peaceful civil rights demonstrators. "Critics have suggested that the fact that one does not see who is aiming the hose at the demonstrators seems to implicate the whole nation," The New York Times observed in its obituary. Although he had Vietnam, nature, fashion and travel assignments, his civil rights work earned him the inaugural Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism in 1989 ( Moore preferred a short lens so he could shoot within the action and was often in the images other photographers shot of the same events.

We also note the passing of Jim Marshall at the age of 74 (, known for his Leica candids of Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, among others. Joe McNally remembers him in a blog entry (, SFGate has a 17-image photo gallery (, his dye-sub printer Ctein an appreciation (, the APA remembers him ( and there's his site (

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