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Digital Photography Tips!
(Pre-Contest Tips archive page)


Have a time- or hassle-saving tip for your fellow digital photo fanatics? It could win you a $100 gift certificate from our sponsor!! Eligible tips could include anything that makes it easier to use digital cameras, scanners, or printers, hidden software tricks, troubleshooting techniques, etc. To enter, email your tip to [email protected]. At the end of each month, our readers will vote to select the tip they liked best. The lucky winner will receive a gift certificate for $100, to spend on anything they like from our sponsor's selection of products! Click here to go back to the current Tip of the Month page.

Don't hesitate, email your tip today!

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Q&A Forum!

    (Jul 27) - Dave Kunze takes Coolpix950 zoom to the next level! We received an email today from IR reader Dave Kunze, with an interesting technique for extending the range of his Coolpix950 digital camera's zoom somewhat dramatically... The results really have to be seen to be believed (all three thumbnails below link to the 437 x 328 pixel resampled images that Dave sent us). Want to know how Dave managed it? Read on...

    Coolpix950 Wide Angle 

    Coolpix950 Telephoto

    Dave Kunze's Ultrazoom :)

    Here's Dave:
    "It appears that anyone who has a decent quality pair of binoculars or spotting scope has an "emergency" long telephoto lens for their Coolpix 950.

    Here are three photos. All were taken with the CP950 set at 'A-rec' and auto focus. All have been sized from 300 ppi to 82 ppi and compressed as a .jpg in Micrografx Picture Publisher 8. All were taken from the same spot at my patio door within a couple minutes of each other.

    The 1x was taken at wide open on the CP950, the 3x was taken at full telephoto on the CP950 without any additional lenses.

    The "binoculr' shot (titled "Dave Kunze's Ultrazoom above - Mike :) was taken with a pair of 8x42 Nikon binoculars (roof prism model). The rubber eye cup was folded down, the binoculars were focused and simply sitting on the rubber "floor" on the head of my tripod (an older Slik). The CP 950 was held against the binocular as steadily as possible and a the shutter pressed. This is the best of three shots. Note
    the infamous "fringing" apparent along the hard edges of the car.

    I'd be interested to know what you think after trying this. Don't forget to accurately focus the binoculars or scope. 8-)"

    (Jul 03) - Shoot the 'works this Fourth! Now that several consumer digicams on the market have the ability to take long time-exposures, many of you will be wanting to take digital pictures of the July 4th fireworks. Rob Galbraith has an excellent tutorial on fireworks photography on-line, although it's aimed at people shooting with high-end digicams like the >$5K Kodak and AP units, for print publication. Nonetheless, there's a LOT in his article that will be useful for amateurs as well. To our mind, the most important advice is that you have to expose for the highlights (the brightly colored streamers), or you'll just get streaks of overexposed white in your shots. This is tougher with consumer digicams, because most that provide long time-exposures only do so with the lens wide open: This will almost certainly overexpose the fireworks themselves. Two tips: If your digicam provides variable-ISO capability, shoot using the lowest ISO speed available. (Watch out that your digicam doesn't override your choice though - for Oly C-2000 owners, this means being sure to shoot in Shutter Priority mode, which you'd probably be doing anyway.) A second tip would be to put some sort of light-reducing filter over your lens. This could be a Neutral-Density filter (which few amateurs tend to have), or more conveniently a polarizing filter, which typically provide a 1-2 stop decrease in light intensity. If your camera provides them, you may also want to play with the white-balance settings, trying not only auto, but incandescent and daylight settings. Another really important tip is to keep exposure times short, to keep the sky as dark as possible. Try to time your shutter release relative to the "chuff" of the launching mortar, so you'll only have the shutter open for a minimum amount of time as the shell actually bursts. Oh yes, one last note: If your digicam has either manual focus or an autofocus override, set the focus to "infinity", to avoid autofocus "hunting." Good luck! (If you get some nifty shots, post an album to ir.clubphoto.com, and we'll tell everyone about it. Download the free Living Album software to make it easy for yourself. We hadn't thought of it before, but maybe we can have a contest for the best shots, with a prize of a CF or SM memory card to the winner! - If we get more than a few people responding, we'll definitely do this!) (Fireworks GIF courtesy Atlas Advanced Pyrotechnics.)

  • (Jun 29) - Too cool to wait for tomorrow! - The ever-resourceful Max Lyons of TawbaWare (Thumber) fame has come up with a new one: The double-teleconverter. (tele double-converter?) He managed to stack both a standard Nikon 2x teleconverter together with a Tiffen 1.5x (actually ~1.3x, according to Max). The result is a mondo 2.6x teleconverter that doesn't even require unreasonable manual dexterity to slap together. Image quality leaves a bit to be desired, particularly along the bottom of the frame, but it's a fairly cheap way to get a really long tele! Visit his page to see how he put it together, and how it works! - I got such a kick out of this one, I just had to post it now, even though it's about 1:30AM as I write this... (Thanks, Max!)
  • (Jun 08) - Improve your photo skills with DIGIPHOTO 101! We received an email today from Prof. Arthur Bleich of the Digital PhotoCorner with news of his new 10-session interactive web course in Digital Photography. DIGIPHOTO 101, as it is called, will teach lighting, color, texture, composition and more to 10 beginner/intermediate students beginning June 21st. The course will cost $175 for these 10 students, however the rest of us will be able to see selected work from the students along with Prof. Bleich's comments, and on completion of the course, noteworthy examples of the students' work will be displayed in an online gallery!
  • (May 26) - Innovative lenscap for Dimage EX1500 Zoom! Reader Shawn Verne has come up with an excellent idea for making your own lenscap for the Minolta Dimage EX1500 Zoom - that requires a throwback to the world of conventional cameras! Shawn took the grey pop-top from a 35mm film container, and carefully trimmed out the inside "lip" of the lid with an Exacto knife, to produce a perfect fit for the EX1500 lens... Looks like EX1500 owners will need to buy one more roll of film for their digital cameras, unless they've got a spare container laying around!
  • (May 12) - New version of Nikon scanner drivers! Dave noticed that the MacInTouch website is currently carrying an item about new drivers for Nikon's LS-2000 and LS-30 Coolscan film scanners. Version 2.21 improves performance and fixes some bugs related to low-memory situations. No new features are added, and you will need the firmware update to use the new driver...
  • (Apr 28) - GraphicConverter reads JPEG comments! Reader Richard Fowell noted on our comment server that Mac shareware program GraphicConverter, available from VersionTracker amongst other places, can read JPEG comments (where most digicams store information like what shutter speed was used for a shot, whether a flash was used, etc.) We'd previously thought only specialised programs like Cameraid could access this info, but apparently other programs are picking up on this too!
  • (Apr 22) - More on the SCSI scanner problems... Dave found further discussion of SCSI scanner problems on the MacInTouch website. MacInTouch reader Hannu Kokko was told by Minolta tech support that his new Dimage Scan Dual
    slide scanner will not work with his blue G3, and that the company "will be updating the Scan Dual drivers for compatibility with the new Blue & White Mac G3 ... in the summer of 1999."
    Reader Steve Maller meanwhile noted that his Polaroid SprintScan 35 Plus slide scanner originally wouldn't work in his new blue G3/400 with an Adaptec 2906 SCSI card, but a note from Polaroid tech support offered an update to the stand-alone software for the scanner:
    "The latest release of Polacolor Insight, Version 3.0 virtually eliminates this issue when used with the Adaptec 2906 or 2930 SCSI host adapter. The use of Polacolor Insight, version 3.0, applies to all models of the Polaroid SprintScan (35 ES, 35 LE, 35 Plus, 45, 45 Pro, and the newly released SprintScan 4000). Version 3.0 can be downloaded from the Polaroid FTP site." Thanks to MacIntouch for this item!
  • (Apr 16) - SCSI scanner problems? Dave picked this item up on the MacInTouch website, who were contacted by their reader Kevin Munoz, who has experience of problems on SCSI scanners and a frequent cause:
    "The problems mentioned regarding the Grappler and the UMAX scanner aren't limited to Grapplers. Working in a repair shop and installing scanners for customers, I've seen this problem many times on all sorts of Macs, even ones with built-in SCSI ports. Mainly, the problem is that the SCSI cables that come with UMAX scanners are atrocious. Usually we have been able to solve the problem by simply replacing the cable with a thicker or shorter one."
  • (Apr 16) - UMAX releases new MagicScan version! Dave also picked up news of a new version of UMAX's MagicScan software from MacInTouch. MagicScan 4.2 (a 34MB download). After a little digging, I found the following information from Umax on the changes in this version:
    "Adds support for AutoFocus feature of PowerLook 3000 (F/W1.7 or later), reduces streaking (LBB error) caused by any dust in calibration area, new MagicMatch engine with support for sRGB and LAB scan modes, support for extended-bit TIFF format files in "scan to file" mode, improved preview accuracy in lineart mode, correct CMYK values in info (pixel) tool from previews. Bug fixes include correctly detecting if Kodak CMS is already installed (will install only if older or nto present), in IPM correction mode fixes occasional problem changing between percent and dimension scaling settings, improves compatibility with NT service packs. Minor UI improvements such as option to apply colour enhancement to full preview, warning when scanning >1220dpi in Low Lens mode (PowerLook 3000 only), improved histogram tool (more accurate display of levels & gaps), auto-selection of 35mm slide tray now functions if tray is off-centre. [source TU98018]. This driver is also included on IMC TechAssist Service CD 1.00."
  • (Apr 02)- "Stealth" serial relief for Blue G3 Owners! (A totally obscure headline for everyone except those it applies to...) Owners of the new Blue G3 PowerMacs from Apple Computer have been bemoaning the loss of the standard serial ports on that model. While the built-in USB and FireWire ports are fast and sexy, owners of existing serial-connected digicams have been left with no cheap way to connect their devices. Now, Silicon Valley startup GeeThree.com has announced their first product, the Stealth Serial Port, which adds a fully-compatible serial port to the Blue Power Mac, by connecting to the internal modem slot of the new macs. (Sorry, if you already have a modem installed, it sounds like you're out of luck.) The new port is fully compatible with Apple's Communication Toolbox, and supports everything from PalmPilots to digital cameras and printers. Visit www.geethree.com for more details, or www.macsource.com, to find early stock on the product.
  • (Mar 23) - Watch those SCSI IDs! Fresh back from his vacation, Dave spotted a tip on the MacInTouch website from their reader Scott Slater. This applies to situations where you have more than one SCSI bus in your computer, most commonly to be encountered on Mac graphics workstations:
    "I noticed in the news today that you mentioned problems with the Polaroid scanner plug-in. I've found that the plug-in only works if the scanner is the only device on the id number. This is regardless of the bus that the scanner is hooked up to.
    When I had the scanner on ID 3 on bus 1, and my CD-ROM had ID 3 on bus 0, there was a conflict. As soon as I gave the scanner its own unique number it worked." Thanks to MacInTouch and their reader Scott Slater!


  • (Mar 23) - Want a little more information... from your image files? The latest development version of Cameraid is out, and author Juri Munkki emailed us with the following:
    "The latest development version of Cameraid will show the ISO speed, metering mode and exposure compensation value from EXIF-encoded files.
    It's not an officially supported release, but it's available to anyone who adventurous enough to try:
    http://www.clinet.fi/~jmunkki/cameraid/versions.html" Thanks, Juri!


  • (Mar 01) - Learn which batteries serve your camera best! We received an email from "tianuat" today to advise of changes to his battery test page, as follows:
    "I have updated the batteries and charger page on http://digicam.s-one.sg/ . I have added 2 chargers information and results. One from MAHA MH-C204F rapid charger and th other a modified traval charger from a standard Ericsson mobile phone travel charger, this little baby take both 110v and 240v. Both produced very very good results. Check it out. The mirror site in the US is http://members.xoom.com/cp900/


  • (Feb 25) - Watch those selfish PDAs! David Weaver from Largan Inc., whose digital cameras we mentioned in our news update of Feb 23, contacted us with this tip:
    "I recently have become aware that the PDA's in use (especially the Palm Pilot's) essentially lock out the serial port for being used by other devices - like digital cameras - that use the same port.

    There is a simple solution. Turn off the Hot Sync Manager. It is the Blue/Red Arrow icon located on the lower right tool bar near the clock in Windows 95/98." Thanks for the note, David!


  • (Feb 23) - Break the 115K barrier! Reader Gord Russell contacted us to let us know that he'd been successful using his Olympus D320L digital camera at above the normal 115,200 kbps limit normally imposed by PC com ports. Not all cameras will be able to operate above this speed, but it's certainly worth checking if yours can...:
    "Serial transfer speeds for digicam to pc is always quoted as 115 kbps when, I belive, most digicams are capable of 230. Its true most PCs aren't equiped for more than 115 but they can be easily upgraded for less than a third party card reader. I purchased a LavaPort-650 (http://www.lavalink.com) which will do up to 460 kbps. I'm sure there are other manufacturers as well. Installation was a snap and I've
    been using it with an Oly D320L for a couple of months now. And if you ever operate your camera via the pc the speed increase is a real coup!" Thanks, Gord!


  • (Feb 10) - Watch that polarity! Reader Gerald Payne contacted us with a very important caution on our previous tip regarding using 3rd-party AC adapters with your digital camera. He points out that the polarity of the AC adapter also has a very large part to play, and if you get this wrong, you could potentially kill your camera!
    If you know what you're doing with electronics, you certainly can save money buying a third party adapter - but if you look at our news page for today, you'll see that if you get that ac adapter wrong, it might not just be your camera you hurt!
    "I think these points need to be made before somebody fries a cam:
    While the idea of saving $35, or so, by buying a brand-X adaptor for a digicam sounds like a good idea to some I'd advise some caution! There are three very important points to remember: 1. The adaptor puts out DC like a battery. This means that the polarity of the adaptor is very important. Connecting an adaptor of reversed polarity to your camera could easily burn out most of the camera depending on it's internal design. (read VERY expensive repair) 2. You also need to know the required current rating to buy an appropriate supply that will not overheat and become a possible fire hazard. 3. Buying a supply with too low a voltage output may mess up some of the cameras which seem to flake out or get locked up under low voltage conditions.
    All that being said, they sell adaptors, toroids, and noise suppression chokes in Radio Shacks across the land. On the other hand, I'm a fair electronics engineer/programmer type and I bought the correct adaptor for my camera from the manufacturer. It was expensive, but not as expensive as a possible $2-300 repair and having to give up my camera to get it fixed to boot! It's also smaller and more efficient than any normal "wall-wart" transformer supply you'd be likely to find. What does that tell you?" Thanks for the note, Gerald!


  • (Feb 08) - Save money on AC Adapters! We normally recommend people stick with the AC adapters designed for their cameras by the manufacturers. Our general policy is "Why risk a $700 camera for the sake of saving $30 on an AC adapter?" That said, you *can* use third-party adapters with some cameras. (Note the emphasis on SOME - Certain units are very sensitive to electronic noise, and require special noise-suppression "chokes" on the power leads.) While we still advocate sticking with the "real deal" on power adapters, some adventurous readers may benefit from the following: (We however, will take NO responsibility for fried digicams!) All that said, readers Milan and Libbie Aleksich wrote in with the following: "Hey, just a quick note on how to save big on getting an A/C adapter for your digital camera- Just go to Walmart! I have an Agfa 1280 (4xAA Nimh) camera and after getting it decided that an A/C adapter was a good Idea, the only problem is that best price through the web was about $50, I tried a regular A/C adapter, a 6v 500ma one and didn't have any luck. But if you look for a universal adapter with a high output for CD Players, etc it will work and will only cost you about $10. Just make sure that it's output is at least 800ma and it will work fine (my camera has LCD monitor and flash, if yours has neither then a lower output adapter should do fine)."


  • (Feb 08) - Diamond SmartMedia works with PDR-M1! A user who wished to remain anonymous wrote in with news that the SmartMedia that Diamond sells for their Rio product works fine with the Toshiba PDR-M1 digital camera. One note - once the Diamond Rio software formats the SmartMedia, they can no longer be used or formatted by either the camera or the FlashPath adapter. A side note is that according to the readme file for the NT4.0 FlashPath driver, it supports 32MB cards already! Toshiba will not give out these drivers unless you ask for them specifically, however, as they do not work 100%, sometimes causing system lockups in Toshiba's tests. (Dave's note: This is a pretty amazing deal, as Diamond is selling the 16MB cards for something like $45 each! This tip about not formatting them first (or ever) in the Rio device is a pretty key one!) Thanks to our modest anonymous reader!


  • (Jan 27) - Camera timer for Macs! We've been using the shutter-lag timer from Digital Eyes, built for the PC. (Digicams tend to have a lag between when you press the shutter-release button and when they actually take the picture. This lag can vary quite a bit between cameras.) Tim Holmes (of the Cult of Tim) just wrote with word of TenSeconds, a shutter-timing tool for Macs, which you can download here. Note though, that this tool is in early beta stage, and apparently really prefers Mac OS 8.5 to run. Tim's page says its "appearance is not ideal under Mac OS 8.0/8.1", but we actually couldn't get it to run at all on our G3 PowerMac, under OS 8.1. Nonetheless, this will be a useful tool for Mac users to contribute to the ongoing effort to characterize camera shutter-lag timing, once the bugs are out! Thanks, Tim!
  • (Jan 24) New software for HP Scanner users: Reader Jonathan Ratzlaff wrote in with the following: I have been using the PScan 32 driver from http://www.mecc.co.jp/lenik/psmart.htm and am quite impressed with the results from it, especially the ability to do batch scanning. I have found that for my slides at least the gamma needs to be set at 3 while for most other media the median setting seems to work well. It only saves files in tiff format both 8 and 16 bit files, however the scan speed is fast. For the price (free) it is worth looking into and playing with. Thanks for a great tip, Jonathan!
  • (Jan 24) Read the manual - First! We have a link posted in our review for the Nikon CoolPix 900, but many folks may not be aware of it. Reader Ward Tongen wrote: Are you considering the new Nikon CoolPix 900? Download the user manual and really get to know what it can do before spending the big bucks at: http://www.nikontechusa.com/ Thanks for the tip, Ward!
  • (Jan 10) Save yourself a little money! (Really more of a "deal" thing, but it will scroll slower here...) Reader Theo Schiff contacted us with a simple but useful tip for our United States readers. When making larger digital camera purchases, remember that you can save a little money by buying from a vendor who is not located in your state. In Theo's case, he saved $35 on a Canon A5, compared to the price including tax that he'd have had to pay if his retailer had a local branch. Thanks for a great tip, Theo!
  • (Jan 5) Keep taking great photos for longer! Reader Chris Newell contacted us from Perth, Western Australia (where would we be without the Internet?) to remind us that there's a simple way we can extend the lifetime of our poor, overworked batteries when using our digicams - turn off that LCD display ASAP! Chris has been getting to grips with his new Kodak DC200, and has found that by keeping the LCD turned off whenever possible, he's already shot 130 photos on the Kodak Photolife alkalines that came with the camera(!) Great tip Chris!
  • (Jan 3) HP Photo Finishing Software Found! When we reviewed the HP PhotoSmart Scanner, it came bundled with a great software package for printing your pictures, called the HP Photo Finishing Software. It now apparently has been removed from the bundle, but reader Peter Fearey found that it can be downloaded from the HP customer support site, at this link. The software will complain about the HP camera not being connected when you launch it, but it does work, and is well worth the trouble to download it! Thanks, Peter!
  • (Dec 24) Thumber update! Max Lyons just emailed us to let us know that he's just finished a minor update to his exceptionally useful "Thumber" photo file organizer & printer program. Check it out at the Thumber web site!
  • (Dec 13) Recover lost SmartMedia files?! Reader Gerald Payne wrote in with a tip for anyone suffering "disk corruption" on a SmartMedia card (and I suspect this will work for CF cards also): No report on his ultimate success back yet, but Gerald heard that accidentally-deleted images can be retrieved from SmartMedia cards by using an external SmartMedia reader with a program called RecoverNT version 2.5. Note that this won't work with the FlashPath unit, since that apparently doesn't give you a true disk directory tree to work with. Thanks, Gerald!
  • (Dec 13) Linux does Photos! This one is from Steve's Digicams also: gPhoto (GNU Photo) is the first free GUI-based application for Linux that handles downloading, indexing, printing, saving etc. of images from a variety of digital cameras. Using the photoPC library from Eugene Crosser, it supports cameras from Agfa, Epson, Olympus, Sanyo, and Nikon. The pre-release beta is available now on the gPhoto home page, but a more stable release with new features is said to be right around the corner. (Thanks, Steve!)
  • (Dec 3) New drivers for Lexar SmartMedia Reader: Lexar has announced a driver-software upgrade for their external SmartMedia reader that clears up some problems the device had been having with 16MB cards. Visit their web site at www.digitalfilm.com to download the updated driver.
  • (Nov 24) IMPORTANT Tip for PDA owners! Reader Rhyder McClure successfully diagnosed a very thorny problem with his recently-purchased Olympus D-400 Zoom (lucky guy). After quite a bit of thrashing around, being unable to transfer data over the serial connection, he discovered that the serial driver for his Palm Pilot PDA was "hogging" the serial port! The solution was as simple as right-clicking on the task-bar icon for the Palm Pilot and turning the driver off. Thanks, Rhyder!
  • (Nov 12) Qimage Beta 1.0 released It seems a lot of our info on software updates these days are coming from Steve's Digicams! (Get busy out there, readers!) The latest is that the program formerly known as PegMe has now been released as Qimage, in beta version 1.0. This sounds like a handy image-management and printing application, and the new version includes several useful enhancements, including auto-fitting of 4x6 images to pages, and the ability to see what's in the print queue by viewing thumbnails of the print jobs. Visit the Qimage site for a free download. Thanks, Steve!
  • (Nov 12) ThumbsPlus Revved: Another item from Steve's Digicams: The perennially popular Thumbs Plus from Cerious Software has now been released. Here's what Steve had to say about the new version: New in ThumbsPlus version 4 is a fancier Windows style interface with a redesigned toolbar and Explorer-like folder tree format, multi-threaded operation, image stamping, step-based batch processing, digital image watermarking (using Digimarc technology) and multiple monitor support, synchronized image viewing for comparing images. Also new is the way you download the program. Rather than having to download the whole program you download an Internet-based installer which examines your system and then downloads only those components that are necessary. Visit the Thumbs Plus site to download a demo copy. Thanks, Steve!
  • (Nov 7) Updated USB drivers for Intermart CF reader Steve, of Steve's Digicams posted this useful tidbit: SCM Microsystems, manufacturer of the Intermart USB card readers, has recently posted an updated driver for the PCD-30USB. This is the USB card reader being sold by d-store. Many users have had problems with this and other USB devices installed on their computer at the same time. Hopefully this new driver will solve the problems, be sure to read the INSTALL.TXT file inside the ZIP after you download it for the proper way to uninstall your current drivers. Be sure to download the drivers dated 10/3/98, these are the newest ones. When unpacking the ZIP files be sure that your ZIP utility keeps the path names as it should create two subdirectories (\win95 and \win98) on your new installation diskette. Thanks, Steve!
  • (Nov 3) iMac USB drivers for Kodak DC220/260 We received a press release from Kodak, along with a personal note from IR reader Louis Brazil, relating his personal experiences with the new drivers. There's now a copy of beta USB drivers for the iMac and DC220/260, available from Kodak. (Actually, it comes from FlashPoint, the developers of the DC220/260's operating system. IMPORTANT NOTE: you MUST be running Mac OS 8.5 for these drivers to work! Louis reports that the 1.2 meg download expands to 2.7 meg, and includes a Photoshop Plug-In, USB drivers, two Digita Extensions, and two Apple USB enablers. The beta software only allows viewing and download of images, not erasing of them from the camera, and only supports the JPEG file format, not FlashPix. Louis did say that download speed was "excellent", and that images with audio attached worked fine as well. This version only supports the iMac: The final release version of the drivers will be available at the end of November, and will support serial-cable connectivity to older Macs, and USB support through PCI add-in cards. Louis also sent a link to the official Kodak DC220/260 FAQ, as well as the unofficial FAQ maintained by Steve Haehnichen (sp?) Thanks, Louis!
  • (Nov 3) Cameraid v1.1.1 available for Macs This item is from Steve's digicams: Cameraid is a very useful Mac program for downloading and managing images from a variety of popular camera types, including models from Agfa, Epson, Olympus, and Sanyo. Benefits include much faster download times (up to a full 230,000 baud!), the ability to view images as soon as they "arrive," and to mark, move, and rename pictures, and advanced "drag and drop" support. (It's very inexpensively-priced shareware, at $15 for a license.) A BIG benefit (for us, anyway), is that it now also supports lossless rotation of JPEG images, which we'll now be using on all our outdoor portrait shots, so you'll see *exactly* what the cameras can do!
  • (Oct 22)Time that lag! Many have noticed the variable delay between when you press a digicam's shutter-release button, and when the camera actually takes the picture. "Van" Van Horn of Digital Eyes had a friend write a tiny Windows program that helps time this lag. It gives you a large count-down timer to help you push the button at the right instant, then gives a large time readout in tenths of a second. Point the camera at the screen, push the button at the right moment, and the picture you capture will show the delay in seconds and tenths. You can download a copy of the program here. We'll be using this on all our future reviews and reporting the results.Thanks, Van!
  • (Oct 22) Nifty Utilities! The super-tele and super-macro pages Tianhuat led us to below also led us to the home page of Max Lyons' "TawbaWare". Max has some useful-sounding programs here to control Agfa, Olympus, and Epson cameras, to extract information from digicam files, and to automatically make web-page indexes from digicam files. Thanks again, Tianhuat!
  • (Oct 22) Ultra telephoto & Ultra Macro! Reader Tianhuat of battery-testing fame (see below) turned up an interesting site: Check this page out for the "poor man's super-telephoto". Bottom line: A $15, 15x monocular from Wal-Mart, a little mechanical fiddling, and you can turn your digicam into a veritable digital telescope! The same site has information on using an inexpensive magnifying loupe to give your digicam microscopic capabilities. None of these schemes produce ultimate optical quality, but they're a great way to (cheaply!) get pictures that would be impossible otherwise. Thanks Tianhuat!
  • (Oct 16)FlashPath Review DCRP reader Tom Beardmore has put together a detailed review on the popular FlashPath floppy-disk adapter for SmartMedia memory cards. If you're considering buying one of these, check out Tom's article for a good overview of how they work. Thanks Tom!
  • (Oct 16) Reader Tianhuat has been testing NiMH batteries with an obsessiveness that puts even Imaging Resource tests to shame! He likes both NEXCell and GP batteries from Thomas Distributing, and has had exceptionally good luck with Thomas' MH-C777 charger. If you really want to know how long to expect batteries to last under various conditions (all tested in a Nikon CP900), check out Tianhuat's page. Thanks Tianhuat!
  • (Oct 13) Here's a great one from official IR friend-of-the-site John Cowley for owners of digicams with a flat, rotating lens mount: A great, simple, do-it-yourself optical viewfinder for use in bright sun. John made his for an Agfa ePhoto 1680, but the same design should also work on the 1280. Although it already has its own optical finder, the concept could also work for the Nikon CoolPix 900 as well, for those times you're working with a tele-extender add-on lens. The concept is simplicity itself - John used a pair of plastic cable-clamps to mount a small "spotting scope" type of monocular device to the body of his digicam. John reports it works great! Check out the "viewfinder" page at his Lone Star Digital site. Thanks, John!
  • (Oct 13) "Came" v0.8 is now in beta! We visited Randy Glass' (aka "Ed") Feather River Canyon News site the other day, and boy, does he have some great mini-reviews and general information on digital imaging posted! (Check it out, you'll be glad you did!) One of the latest additions is an upate to the camera-control program "Came" (pronounced "Kah-mee", means "turtle" in Japanese. Came lets you control lots of camera settings, some of which you can't access any other way (like the power-off delay on a Nikon CP900). Randy lists the cameras Came can now control, which include:

C-1400XL, D-600XL, C-1400L, D-600, C-1000L, D-500L, C-900Z, D-400Z,
C-830L, D-340R, C-840L, D-340L, C-820, D-320L, C-420L, D-220L, C-800L,
D-300L, C-410L, D-210L, C-400L, D-200L

Nikon E900

ePhoto1280, ePhoto1680, ePhoto307

CP600, PhotoPC700, CP500, PhotoPC600, PhotoPC550, CP200, PhotoPC500,
CP100, PhotoPC,

DSC-X100, VPC-X350, DSC-SX1Z, VPC-Z400, DSC-V100, VPC-G250, DSC-X1,
VPC-X300, DSC-V1, VPC-G200

To get Came, go to Randy's site, and click on the Turtle icon for Came. You'll find a bunch of descriptive information, as well as links to the Came download sites. Thanks Randy, for putting together such a useful resource!

  • (Oct 13) Indirectly on the same topic ("hacking" your digital camera via the serial port), Came's author, TsuruZoh Tachibanaya mentioned Eugene Crosser's web site in a letter to Randy of the FRCN. Eugene has compiled an incredible amount of "behind the scenes" information on cameras based on the Fujitsu chipset (see the list above). Check out Eugene's website if you're the sort of techie type that loves to take things apart to see how they work...
  • (Oct 8) Reader Danny Hollis posted a note in the Imaging Resource Forum of problems he was having applying the DC210 Plus firmware upgrade to a DC210A he bought in Hong Kong. Whenever he tries to apply the firmware upgrade, his menus revert to Japanese! Apparently, the unit he bought in Hong Kong was a Japanese model that had a "downgrade" performed on it to the English-language 1.51 revision. After similar reports from readers having difficulty applying upgrades to Japanese DC210s, we checked with Kodak and learned that the DC210A is in fact a unit intended only for Japan, and one that won't take English-language firmware installations(!) Thus, although DC210's can be had very cheaply in Japan (see the earlier posting below), they may not be such a good deal unless you read Japanese! If you did get stuck with a unit like this, our Kodak contact suggested specifically discussing the situation with Kodak repair, pointing out that you purchased the unit as an English-language camera.
  • (Oct 4) New drivers for popular CF, PC, SmartMedia card readers. This item just in from Steve's digicams: A number of users have had problems with parallel-port card readers interfering with Windows '95/98 dial-up networking. Memorex now has updated drivers on their web site that fix the problem, no only for their unit, but others from the same OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Third-party units the software should work with are sold under the model names ImageMate, FilmMate, and FlashMate 2000. Check Steve's site for details.
  • (Oct 4) CamerAid v1.1 in Beta. This item also from Steve's digicams: Cameraid is a very useful Mac program for downloading and managing images from a variety of popular camera types, including models from Agfa, Epson, Olympus, and Sanyo. Benefits include much faster download times, the ability to view images as soon as they "arrive," and to mark, move, and rename pictures, and advanced "drag and drop" support. (It's very inexpensively-priced shareware, at $15 for a license.) Program author Juri Munkki is currently looking for beta testers for his new version 1.1 (The link above is for the old version, the new one isn't publicly released yet.) Email him to be included, maybe get a free license if you produce some useful feedback!
  • (Oct 4) NikonView 1.2 released. At the risk of becoming "Steve's Digicams North," here's one more from Steve's site: Nikon has released NikonView 1.2 for Windows '95/98 and NT 4.0. The new version fixes a number of problems, including some compatibility issues with Internet Explorer 4.0. Check the NikonTech download site for full details.
  • (Oct 1) HP announces Windows NT support for PhotoSmart. Extending the reach of its excellent, easy-to-use PhotoSmart digital photography products (see our reviews of the C20 camera and the scanner), HP has announced the availability of software drivers for Windows NT users. This is a bit of a breakthrough for NT users, as most digital imaging companies have neglected the platform. (Expect more companies to announce support, now that HP has broken into that market.) Drivers are available free of charge from HP's web site, at http://www.photosmart.com
  • (Oct 1) UMAX 1220 software upgrade. Macintouch reader Mike Millard reported that the new Mac drivers released to support the UMAX Astra 1220U on the iMac will also work with the SCSI-based Astra 1220S on other Mac models. He said "VistaScan 3.0 has a MUCH nicer, friendlier interface than the v2.4.3 that came with my 1220S." You can find the new Mac drivers on www.umax.com, on the download page. NOTE: When installing the software though, you'll need to remove a few things specific to the 1220U - check the Extensions, Startup Items, and Shutdown Items folders for files containing the string "1220U", and trash them...
  • (Sept 27) More than you ever wanted to know about camera testing! We've been wanting to get this up for months, finally did so: We put a lot of time and effort into defining the test procedures we use at The Imaging Resource, and execute our tests under carefully controlled conditions. Finally, the "Test Descriptions" link on the Comparometer(tm) page has a full description of our philosophy, what we test for, and a discussion of how to use the test images to really "smoke out differences between various cameras. Check it out here, or from the "!" link on the Comparometer - DC260 Japanese/English Limitations? Reader Andy Leung posted a note on the Q&A forum, describing a problem he had trying to upgrade a Japanese version 1.02 DC260 to the English version of the 1.04 firmware. Apparently the 1.02 English version was no problem, but no go with the later rev. Taken together with Martin Reynolds' experience with a Japanese DC210 (reported below), it sounds like Kodak is taking steps to prevent the migration of less-costly Japanese models to the US... (Thanks, Andy!)
  • (Sept 27) More info on Mac Stylus Photo Drivers: Macintouch reader Tom Easterday reports a minor glitch in the previously-reported tip about using the Epson Stylus 700 drivers to run your original Stylus Photo. Check the post we've put on the Q&A board for full details. - This trick will probably also work for PC drivers as well!
  • (Sept 17) UMAX Posts Mac/USB drivers. More good Mac stuff: UMAX has posted MacOS drivers on their website for their Astra 1220U scanner. These may not be the final version, as they're called "Final Release Candidate". It's a BIG download though, at 13.8 Meg, so you may just want to leave your computer on overnight while it drifts onto your hard drive... (This also looks like it's coming from overseas (UK?), so it might take even longer!)
  • (Sept 17) Great way to share sample images! David Rowley of PhotoPoint and I have been corresponding back and forth for a little while now. PhotoPoint.com is a neat free service for uploading images to make on-line albums. No strings attached! After seeing some sample files from digital cameras that people had uploaded, it struck me that this would be a great way for all of us to share sample images from various digicams! To support that, we've featured PhotoPoint in our "cool stuff" section above. Have some images (especially from a more obscure digicam)? Post them for everyone to see!
  • (Sept 17) Great Stylus Photo Tip for Mac! This tidbit is from Macintouch reader J.P. Adams: "There hasn't been an update to the (Mac) Epson Stylus Photo driver recently so I downloaded the Stylus Photo 700 driver update and tried it. It works great on my Epson Stylus Photo printer and adds many new features such as fit to page, 2 up and 4 up printing. I thought this might be of interest to your readers that aren't aware of this capability." Thanks, J.P.!
  • (Sept 11) Active Buyers Guide: Check it out & let us know! As of today, we're introducing a new service on the site, called the Active Buyers Guide. This is a joint effort between The Imaging Resource and Active Research. As you'd expect, the Buyers Guide is a tool to help you select digital cameras that meet your needs and interests. What's different about it is that it uses "fuzzy logic" and artifical intelligence to help refine the options. Other database-driven guide typically only give you exactly what you've asked for, whereas the Active Buyers Guide will provide a range of "close" matches. We've provided some data to Active Research, and they'll eventually be linking into our reviews. In the meantime, check out this interesting tool. (There's ample space on every page to give feedback, and Active Research will be "actively" monitoring all comments to improve the service.) Check it out!
  • (Sept 11) Read ATA, CF, and SM all at once! (Huh?) That's a mouthful of acronyms, but ActionTec has announced CameraConnect Pro(tm), a parallel-port device that can read all three popular image-card formats, including ATA PCMCIA cards, CompactFlash, and SmartMedia (including the new 16MB format). The new unit will support Windows 95, 98, and NT. No ship date or price was given in the press release though. (Who writes these things anyway? What use is it to announce a product with no indication of when it might be available or what it might cost? - Of course, I just did the same thing! ;-)
  • (Sept 8) New drivers for the Kodak DC210! We reported below on the upgraded model of Kodak's DC210, the DC210 Plus. Now, all current DC210 owners can get a (free) update to all of the firmware features of the 210 Plus, by visiting this link on Kodak's web site. There you'll find software and instructions for downloading the new firmware to your camera. Features include: faster shutter response time, 20% improved battery life, multi-language user interface, faster start-up time, date stamp option, exposure lock option (for panorama shooting), and video-out slide show capability. This upgrade once again demonstrates the advantages of the downloadable-firmware capability of the Kodak cameras. (Late note: Users seem to be reporting varied experiences with this upgrade: Some notice clear improvements, others are distinctly unimpressed. Also, it appears that the 20% power savings referred to is the same 20% the last firmware upgrade provided.)
  • (Sept 8) New USB drivers for Epson Stylus 740! Epson has released an update to their software drivers for the Stylus 740 printer, correcting problems some Apple iMac owners were experiencing. The new drivers can be found on the Epson support site. NOTE: Be sure to download and apply the Apple iMac Update 1.0 patch before loading the new Epson drivers!