Thank you for William Debley's "The Big Splash" ("You Can Do It!" March 2005). His experiment gave my family hours of enjoyment. The look on my kids' faces when they saw the outcome of that first balloon popping (right) was priceless.
Helping shooters get it right-from the silver screen to the LCD
WHO SAYS THE MAGIC OF image-editing software means you don't need filters when shooting? Not Hollywood, where the electronic special effects make Adobe Photoshop CS look like an old game of Pac-Man. "There's not a foot of motion picture film shot that doesn't have a filter on the lens," says Steve Tiffen.
LIKE SO MUCH IN PHOTOGRAphy, it all started with Robert Capa. When the filmmakers behind the 2003 documentary Robert Capa: In Love and War needed a voice for the Hungar ian-born photojournalist, Croatian actor Goran Visnjic was a likely candidate "I started learning a lot about him to prepare," says Visnjic, best-known for his role on NBC's hit "ER."
THE PROBLEM This is well composed and well lit. And that's the problem: the lighting is too even. This photo cries for a more interpretive print. WHAT NOW? Into the darkroom we go! Using Adobe Photoshop, we applied two traditional darkroom techniques-burning and dodging.
ITSY BITSY PHOTO VIEWER Pocket-sized point-and-shoots are great, but their tiny screens can make your aunt look like an ant. Kodak's new EasyShare Picture Viewer ($149 expected street) has a 2.5-inch (201,000-pixel) screen, displays full-resolution images from SD/MMC memory cards, and has 32MB of built-in memory. That's not as much storage as $500-andup hard-drive storage devices, but it's enough to hold over 100 screen-resolution pics for playback on the built-in LCD. Playback lasts for up to three hours, according to the company, on the built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery. Like Kodak's newer EasyShare cameras, the Picture Viewer has an Imagelink connector, so printing on the company's Printer Dock Series 3 is simple. Don't have a dock? There's also a USB connector and PictBridge support. What's not hot? Zoom is limited to 2X. (Kodak; www.kodak.com; 800-235-6325)
SNORKLECAM Bringing your camera into your pool or to the beach? You'll need a waterproof bag or housing, right? Wrong, says Pentax. The company's new 5MP OptioWP ($350 estimated street) can shoot down to 5 feet below the water's surface. Powered by a Li-ion rechargeable battery, it has an internal 3X optical zoom (38-114mm equivalent) f/3.3-4 lens and 2-inch LCD. Plus, 15 picture modes, along with full auto and program, cover a wide variety of shooting conditions including, of course, underwater. Images are stored on an SD card or the built-in 10.5MB memory. (Pentax; www.pentaximaging.com: 800-877-0155)
SD memory card
SD, WITH A SIDE OF USB By day it's an SD memory card. By night, a USB 2.0 flash drive. SanDisk's new Ultra II SD Plus card might have an identity crisis, but it sure is useful. One end has the same nine contacts as any SD card. The other end, the four tell-tale contacts of USB protected by a folding plastic cover. Just shoot your pics, pull the card from your camera, flip open the USB cover, shove the card in your computer's USB connector, and transfer away. It's the best thing since card readers. The Ultra II SD Plus is available now in 512MB ($109.99 list) and 1GB ($149.99 list) sizes. (SanDisk Corp.; www.sandisk.com: 866-726-3475)
DG AF Extension Tube Set
GET AN EXTENSION Want to get close to your subject? A macro lens will get you there, but only at one focal length. An extension tube lets you focus close with all but your widest lenses. Kenko's new DG AF Extension Tube Set (Canon, Minolta, Pentax mounts: $219; Nikon: $279), with stackable 12-, 20-, and 36mm tubes , is designed to work with more cameras and lenses than Kenko's old set (seeTHK's web site for a list). As with all extension tubes, your range of focus will decrease (no focusing to infinity), and you may lose autofocus at smaller apertures. But, put one of these behind a real macro lens, and your images will be larger than life. (THK Photo Products; www.thkphoto.com: 800-421 -1141)
OS 364 LA carbon-fiber tripod
NEW PLAYER IN 'PODS OSN stands for One Source Network, and this relative newcomer sprang up about three years ago with accessories specifically aimed at the digital photographer: memory card holders, screen protectors, print trimmers, etc. Now, OSN makes a leap into the larger photo arena with its OS 364 LA carbon-fiber tripod ($499.99 list), a 'pod for both digital and analog shooters. One of the few CFer's with flip-style thumb locks (most use collar locks), the 364 LA offers lightweight and sturdy magnesium hardware that helps make this four-section tripod unusually lightweight (4.2 pounds, sans head) for a tripod that tops out at 68 inches. Other features to like: a magnesium camera platform with built-in spirit level, self-leveling feet (photo), and a reversible center column for ground-level work. (OSN; www.osnusa.com; 678-344-2989)
THE RULES "“YOUR BEST SHOT" ENTRY RULES To enter, send prints, transparencies, or CD-ROM to "Your Best Shot," POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGING, P.O. Box 1247, Teaneck, NJ 07666, or e-mail your best shots to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prizes are as follows: First Place, $300; Second Place, $200; Third Place, $100; Honorable Mention, $50.
In French Polynesia, you'll feel the urge to shoot everything
IT'S ALL TRUE, WHAT YOU'VE heard about Tahiti being beautiful, friendly, and, well, even more beautiful. While there's plenty on the main island of Tahiti to keep any photographer busy, how about spending a week traveling from island to tiny island around French Polynesia? The photo opportunities are immeasurable.
Five tips (and a couple of fixes) for tricky exposures
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS generally prefer to shoot transparency film for its rich color and suitability for publication. Unfortunately, these narrow-latitude emulsions leave little room for error. And while digital converts can rely on histogram readouts to check exposure, reshooting if necessary, they must be on the money the first time around when recording wildlife in action.
IF DIGITAL SLRS WERE THE only game in town, choosing a lens would be easy. You'd simply pick one based on how wide or how tele it acted and be done with it. But if you already own lenses for a 35mm SLR, you might develop a love/hate relationship with them when you switch to a DSLR.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND CRUISE ships are a mixture that, for me, spells picture-taking seasickness. I'd rather go on my own, or with a select group of photo enthusiasts who, like myself, will stay out of each other's way when there's something to shoot.
THERE ARE TWO EASY WAYS TO turn a color image black-and-white. Both of them are bad. If you go b&w by switching to grayscale, or by desaturating, you'll probably be disappointed with your results. You may shrug your shoulders and think: Well, I guess there was at least one thing that film did best.
It's no surprise that, as photographers keep buying more and more DSLRs, lens makers keep putting out more premium glass made specifically for digital. Olympus, with its Four Thirds System, is a perfect example. The company introduced three new, fast, constant-aperture zoom lenses: 14-35mm f/2, 35-100mm f/2, and 90-250mm f/2.8 Zuiko Digital ED. All three will hit stores in the fall; prices have not been released. On a different front, Canon added a 60mm f/2.8 Macro ($450 street) to its line of digital-only EF-S lenses. The first macro to join that line, it's made for use on either of Canon's Digital Rebels or 20D. On those cameras, the 1.6X 35mm lens factor delivers the field of view of a 96mm lens on a 35mm SLR. Pentax introduced its fifth DAseries lens, the 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED. For an 11 -element, 4X zoom, it's fairly compact at 2.6×3.1 inches. Price wasn't available at press time, but expect it in stores next month. Sigma showed its support of digital with three new lenses, including the first attempt we've seen at a "standard" digital-only lens, the 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM. After adjusting for 35mm lens factor on its SD10, this fast 30mm comes very close to a "standard" high-speed 50mm lens-something that Sigma has never offered before. The company also introduced two zooms: 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC and 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM. In addition to these digital-only lenses, Sigma has upgraded 10 full-frame APO EX telephoto lenses to make them part of the digitally optimized DG line:
If you thought there were enough flash memory formats in the world, guess again. Lexar has introduced the 0.47×0.18×1.25inch UFC FlashCard, not much larger than an SD card, which it hopes will catch on as a new standard in storage. It fits into any USB connector and will be available later this year in USB 1.0 versions up to 64MB, and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 versions up to 1GB. Prices undetermined. Lexar also announced that all its Platinum Series memory cards now carry a 40X (a.k.a. 6MB/sec read/write) speed rating. And its Professional Series has been expanded to include 512MB and 1GB 80X Memory Stick Pro, and a 1GB 60X SD card. All are available now, though prices were not yet final at press time.
Memory Stick Pro Duo
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, SanDisk announced the largest capacity Memory Stick Pro Duo cards ever. The 2GB cards will ship in both standard ($359.99 list) and Ultra II ($479.99 list) versions. At the same time, the 10MB/sec read/ write speed Ultra II line will add 512MB ($119.99 list) and 1GB ($209.99 list) Memory Stick Pro Duo cards. On the lower end of the price scale, SanDisk added what they’re marketing as a 200-picture/128MB ($49.99 list) card to its Shoot and Store line, which the company hopes will be filled with images, then tucked away for permanent storage.
MAX Versatility 400
In film, Kodak has updated its Kodak MAX Versatility 400 film to enhance performance in low-light and extended-flash situations. Going forward, all of Kodak’s Portra films will feature a new scratch-resistant coating designed to improve performance in digital scanners and with their Digital ICE scratch-removal feature. They’ve also created the new Kodak Zoom one-time use camera. In stores now, it sports two switchable lenses, 32mm and 45mm, contains 27 frames of Kodak MAX Versatility 800 film, and has a flash.
Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fuji, meanwhile, is doing away with its Fujichrome Velvia 50 film, replacing it with the new Fujichrome Velvia 100, not to be confused with Velvia 100F, which will remain in the line. Velvia 100 will ship this summer, while Velvia 50 will be phased out by the end of the year.
MicroSync Digital trigger system
The most unexpected new product comes from Tamrac. The bag maker is jumping into remote flash triggers with its new MicroSync Digital trigger system. Consisting of a tiny hot-shoe-mountable RF transmitter, paired with an RF receiver featuring either a !4-inch jack or home plug connector for studio strobes, the units have a maximum range of 100 feet, four channels, and a maximum sync speed of 1/180 sec (focal plane shutters) or 1 /350 sec (leaf shutters). They should be in stores this month at an estimated street price of $299 for a transmitter/receiver kit, and $189 each for extra receivers. ®
Just as Nikonians everywhere began to get their hands on the 12.4MP D2x, Nikon announced the 4.1MP D2HS ($3,499.95 list), an update of the D2H. In addition to features pulled directly from the D2x-such as 3D Color Matrix metering, compatibility with the new WT-2 802.11b/g wireless transmitter, and GPS connectivity-there's also a higher-res 232,000-pixel, 2.5-inch LCD, updated auto white balance and auto tone-control functions, and a new 11 -area AF system that Nikon says is faster than the one in the D2H. But the feature likely to make most D2H owners drool is the larger buffer, which lets the D2HS shoot 8 frames per second for up to 50 consecutive JPEGs or 40 RAW images (up from the D2H'S 40 JPEG and 25 RAW files). Memory card manufacturers are gonna love this camera.
PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH
Canon's PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH ($500 est. street) has pixielike proportions, but packs 7.1 megapixels, a 2-inch LCD screen, and 3× optical zoom (37-111 mm equivalent) lens in its metal case. Also on board: a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connection, and an upgraded movie mode with a fast frame rate (60 fps) at 320×240 for moving subjects, plus conventional 30 fps at VGA. But the most offbeat features are a set of in-camera color tweaks: skin tone adjustments (lighter or darker), controls to punch up a single color or isolate one color against monochrome, even a color-swap function that will do just that-flip the colors of, say, Yankees' and Red Sox' jackets.
The Exilim EX-Z750
Casio has its "lifestyle" models and its "prosumer" models. The Exilim EX-Z750 ($450 est. street) is two concepts in one, combining the slim, pocketable form and 2.5-inch LCD of the lifestyle models with prosumer punch: 7.2MP capture, full manual-exposure control, an ID-photo function for formatting a portrait shot into common official sizes, and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 transfer. For those who keep missing the shot, the Past Movie function keeps the buffer live so that the camera will capture the five seconds of footage before you press the shutter release; another mode does the same for a sequence of still shots. Fun features include artistic modes for making in-camera pastel or posterized pictures. Lens is a 3× (38-114mm equivalent) zoom.
Movie modes on digital compacts tend to be a compromise. Casio proposes to fix this with the Exilim EX-P505($500 est. street), a 5MP compact that thinks it's a palmcorder. The P505 records in MPEG-4 video at 640×480-pixel resolution and 30 fps up to the capacity of the card, and records in stereo via two mics atop the camera aimed left and right. The 5× optical lens (38-190mm equivalent) zooms while recording, and there are scene modes for movie situations (night scene, fireworks) as well as for still shots. Another mode, silent movie, gives you a herky-jerky effect. Besides in-camera editing functions, the P505's software package includes Ulead VideoStudio for extensive editing control after filming.
A 5.1 MP Super CCD HR camera with big (2.5-inch) LCD isn't a surprise coming from Fujifilm, but the shape definitely is: the FinePix Z1 ($450 est. street) is an ultraslim "lifestyle" model distinctly different from the usual rangefinder-look Fujis. The metal-bodied Z1 (it comes in black and silver) has a nonextending internal 3× optical (36-109mm equivalent) zoom. Processing called Real Photo Technology is claimed to speed up operation of the camera and reduce noise at higher ISOs (the Z1 goes to ISO 800 with full resolution). For further capability in available light, the Z1 has whitebalance presets for three different types of fluorescents. A proprietary Li-ion rechargeable battery (charged by placing the camera on the included cradle) helps keep the Z1 slim.
The Kodak EasyShare C300
The Kodak EasyShare C300 specs go like this: 3MP, a 37mm-equivalent single-focallength (and fixed-focus) lens, allshooting plus a fill-flash setand movie clip. Ho-hum? Maybe, but the price makes impressive news: projected at 99 bucks (street), the C300 may be the Instamatic of the digital era. The C300 will also mate with the latest EasyShare Printer Dock, the Series 3 (no price yet), for making 4×6-inch dye-sub at the touch of a button.
JVC raised some eyebrows a while back with its Everio GZ-MC200U, which records both MPEG-2 video and 2MP still images onto Microdrives or CompactFlash cards (a 4GB Microdrive ships with the camera). Now they've upped the ante with the compact JVC Everio GZ-MC500 ($1,799.95 list). It ships with the same Microdrive, but according to JVC, captures 5MP stills and has three CCD sensors to capture more accurate colors. And the best part? No more videotapes.
When we first saw the Contax i4R ($349 street) at Photokina, we were told it would be in stores by January. But, amidst a change in distribution (Contax products are now distributed by ToCAD, the same folks that distribute Velbon, Sunpak, and Hakuba), the product launch was delayed. Don't worry though, you'll soon be able to get your James Bond on with this tiny 4MP, fixedfocal-length 39mm f/2.8 digicam. As mentioned before, it'll have a 1.5-inch LCD and latest RTUNE processing for continuous 3 fps shooting 'till you fill your SD card. It will also feature HDTV out instead of VGA, and include a high-tech presentation mode.
The 7MP Coolpix 7900
The 7MP Coolpix 7900 was definitely Nikon's top new compact-but the bigger newsmaker was its little brother 7600. For good reason: with most of the features of the 7900, the 7600 is the least expensive 7MP camera to date, with a street price of $379. You get a 3× optical (38-114mm equivalent) zoom, "face-priority" AF that can detect the shape of a human face in the frame, in-camera redeye fix, and D-Lighting mode to tame high-contrast scenes. The Coolpix 7900 ($449 street) adds more metering options, more extensive imaging controls, faster burst shooting, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery in place of the 7600's AAs. And a sexy black metal body.
As if sheer Verve weren't enough, Olympus has decided slim is in with the not-quite 1-inch-thick Camedia D-630 Zoom ($299 street). This 5MP, 3× optical zoom (35-105mm equivalent) has the de rigueur metal body and larger (2-inch) LCD screen. A help guide is built into the menu system to explain camera controls and features, which include 10 scene modes like portrait, night scene, and sports. Power comes from a Li-ion recharge-able battery.
Samsung has both bulked up and slimmed down its new flagship compact, the Digimax V700($409 street). Capture has been boosted to 7MP, while the rechargeable Li-ion wafer battery reduced thickness to a little over an inch. The Schneider 3X zoom is a 38-114mm equiv., the LCD is a 2-incher, and the metal body is available in silver, blue, or "noble wine." Many, many setting, including a text mode that works with the supplied character-recognition software to convert photos of documents, and a digital stabilizer for video recording. 50-500mm f/4-6.3, 70-200mm f/2.8, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OS, 100-300mm f/2.8, 300-800mm f/5.6, 180mm f/3.5, 300mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4.5, and 800mm f/5.6. Tokina continues to focus closely on its higher-end lenses with its new AT-X 100 AF Pro 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. Expect to see it this summer; price has not yet been set.
Sony took its time coming out with a superzooming EVF compact, but what a bundle is in the Cyber-shot DSC-H1($500 est. street): 5MP capture, 12X optical zoom (36-432mm equivalent) with optical image stabilization, 2.5inch LCD, full range of auto modes plus full manual, and, in case your Memory Stick runneth over, 32 megabytes of internal memory. If you want to go optically hog wild, two optional auxiliary lenses, a 0.7X wide and a 0.7X tele ($150 each) let you extend the range from 25mm to 734mm.
After pulling out the big guns last year, camera makers have slowed down on the digital SLR front-for the moment. At the recent PMA trade show in Orlando, Florida, Canon showed off its Digital Rebel XT (see "Hands On," p. 50), but the only other new DSLR in sight was from Nikon.
Faster, smarter, betterand smaller than the original
MICHAEL J. McNAMARA
WHEN CANON REVEALED THE 6.3MP EOS Digital Rebel in 2003, we knew it would be a winner based on its image quality and features, plus the pentup demand for a sub-$1,000 DSLR. How big a success has it been? So far, Canon has sold more than 1.2 million units.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: DSLR makers, in attempts to offer cameras in kit form at the lowest possible prices, have been creating no-frills, bare-bones, moderate-wide-to-tele zooms. Surprise! Optically, many are terrific. This is one. HANDS ON: Well-made plastic barrel and lensmount.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Lens makers promised that lenses for APS-sized sensors could be made much smaller than 35mm lenses. Sigma proves they can also be high quality and inexpensive. HANDS ON: Well-made with large, handsome, black-satin-finish, smooth-turning, rubber ribbed zoom and manual-focusing rings.
THE FIRST THING WE SAID WHEN we took the Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 (successor to the A2) out of the box: “OK, what’d they leave off the camera?” Still 8MP? Check. Still the 28-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens? Check. CCD-base optical image stabilization? Check.
COSINA’S GONE AND DONE IT! Heeding complaints that 35mm rangefinders have a smaller-than-life-size range/ viewfinder, the company has introduced the Voigtländer Bessa R3A, which sports a lifesize image with a larger, equally impressive, easy-to-focus superimposed secondary rangefinder image.
If you’ve got the muscle, this backpack’s got the room
TAMRAC’S NEW EXPEDITION 7 backpack ($180 street) looks like it belongs in a camping store instead of a photo store. After all, its harness system—with padded waist belt, sternum strap, and lumbar support—resembles a mountaineer’s rucksack.
Small and lightweight, these strobes are ready to pop
“I DON’T HAVE ROOM FOR A studio.” “Studio lights are too expensive.” These are two frequently voiced reasons why photo enthusiasts don’t do studio photography. SP Studio Systems addresses both objections with its inexpensive ($200 street), small, and light Excalibur SP1600C monolights (9.3×6.8×11.8 inches, 3.8 pounds, with reflector).
ANOTHER VERSION OF PHOTOSHOP is out already? Yeah, we know, Adobe releases a new version nearly every year and a half like clockwork. Last year’s Photoshop CS (Creative Suite) was so fine-tuned, what more could they add? Photographers love it when Adobe adds features that make our lives easier, and some of the new tools in the newest version, CS2 (upgrade: $149 from any version of Photoshop; full: $599), do just that.
A FEW YEARS AGO, AFTER buying my Canon EOS D30, I set out to capture the macro world that lies beyond what the human eye can see. My goal was to fill the frame with the head of a fly. I knew I couldn’t do that with just my 100mm Canon macro lens; a bellows was required.
Rechargeable NiMH batteries go flat without much notice, so it’s important to have replacements handy. The best organizer I’ve found is a bullet holder, an elastic sleeve for nine bullets that’s meant to attach to a rifle’s shoulder stock.
Celebrity and fashion photographers have it easy. (How hard can it be to make Nicole Kidman look great?) But you? Instead of Nicole or George Clooney, you're faced with subjects like your brother-in-law with his bald pate, big nose, round face, small eyes, bad skin, and that scowl of a smile.
You’ve got hundreds of great images. Why don’t you sell them?
Charlotte K. Lowrie
Brochures, ads, billboards ...stock photos are everywhere. With more than 1,000 stock agencies and organizations peddling pictures, and the potential to earn from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars a year, what’s stopping you from selling your photos?
3 WOMEN WHO SPECIALIZE IN PHOTOGRAPHING PEOPLE, USING VERY DISTINCT APPROACHES. THEY HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: THEY GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
“MY FAMILY HAS LEARNED to ignore me,” says New York City resident Elinor Carucci, 33. The Israeli-born photographer has been taking pictures of her family since she was 15. She started by photographing her mother “very intuitively, with simple equipment,” but soon included the entire clan.
IN THE OLD DAYS, there was glossy there was matte. Sometimes there were surfaces in between with names like "pearl" or "luster," but they were still basically glossy and matte. But now, digital capture and inkjet printing have changed all that: you can toss ink onto almost any surface that you can fit through a printer.
CALIBRATE, PROFILE, COLOR MANAGE-EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THOSE WORDS MEAN
GOOD NEWS: You no longer need to use up all your discretionary income buying more paper and more ink for your printer. If you haven't bought that new car because you've spent so much darn money outputting garbage that doesn't match the perfection you've created on-screen, invest a bit of cash in color management.
WINNERS OF THE AMSTERDAM-based World Press Photo competition often occupy iconic places in history: Newsweek photographer Charlie Cole’s 1989 image of a lone Chinese protester in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, for example, or Eddie Adams’ 1968 Viet Cong prisoner execution for the Associated Press.
“I USE A 256MB MEMORY CARD with my 6MP camera. How many pictures will my card hold?” We’d love to give you a definitive answer: when shooting JPEGs at the highest resolution and lowest compression settings, your card will hold exactly 150 images.
Q I don’t understand RAW: It eats up a lot of space on my memory card, it takes a while to process the file, and post-processing is time consuming. I know you can adjust the lighting and color without losing quality, but I’ve compared a photo I took in RAW with a high-quality JPEG and couldn’t tell the difference.
REMEMBER TAKING YOUR SATs? They had questions like this: What is the next number in this sequence: 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6...? At this point, you'd fill in the circle for "8" (or should have). Each number doubles by leapfrog. And so the next number after 8 should be 11.2.
PAUL STRAND (1890-1976) ONCE SAID THAT PHOTOGraphy provides "absolute unqualified objectivity." From his early years working with Lewis Hine and Alfred Stieglitz to his later career as a filmmaker, Strand always sought to capture that ideal, whether shooting New York street scenes, European landscapes, or compositions of shapes.