Welcome to Reviews OnLine: ImageScape 2000
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ImageScape 2000
by Rick Smith (November 14, 2000)


 

The latest in digital imaging products are shown by:

ActivePhoto
Adobe
Agilent Technologies
Altamira
AOL
Applied Science Fiction
ArcSoft
Chicony
Corel
DIG
EndPoints
Equilibrium
Ezonics
ezprints
FlashPoint
Fujifilm
IBM
Jasc
Kodak
Lexmark
LizardTech
Logitech
LookThatUp
MGI
NewHeights Software
Nikon
Ofoto
Olympus
Photela
PhotoLoft
PhotoPoint.com
PictureIQ
Pixami
PixelMagic
Raindrop Geomagic
Sanyo
ScanSoft
Shutterfly
SmashCast
Snapfish
Sony
SpotLife
Surveyor
TeraOptix
TeVeo
Ulead Systems
UMAX Technologies
Wright
Yahoo! Photos
Zing


Adobe Photoshop 6
Adobe Photoshop Six. The latest version of a program that some people would fight a religious war over its virtues, while others scream that their favorite program has a better this or a better that. I admit that I am one of Photoshop’s afficionados. For two simple reasons. One - it works, and works well and two - multiple NAMED undo. Without these key features, other graphics software is just a bunch of features in a box. These two features, combined with the rest of Photoshop, helps you soar to new heights, limited only by your imagination. Now those screamers are quiet - 6.0 is here!

I’ve been using 5.5 for a little over a year and its web features really impress me, read my review. What new in 6.0 you ask? A bunch. Here’s a quick taste of some of the features that I feel are most compelling:

Tighter integration - Adobe is continuing to integrate ImageReady web features directly into Photoshop. In 5.5, only Image Ready performed “web slicing” - now this can be done directly in Photoshop, which saves time and resources. File saving is also more automated when moving between ImageReady and Photoshop.

Weighted optimization - Now you can achieve higher quality in critical areas of your web graphics because you can vary the compression settings in different areas of a single image.

Better layer management - Layers can be clustered into sets for better control. Layers can also be locked against accidental image changes or movement.

Better text capability - Now text alignment can be set at the paragraph level, with word wrap, directly on the image. And all without having to use a dialog box! You can even store written notes and even audio annotations, within a Photoshop file - much better than using abbreviations buried at the end of layer names.

Additional actions support - One of the best, and to some, “hidden” feature of Photoshop is actions. They were designed to help speed up repetitive tasks and they do a great job. Now, many people have figured out fantastic ways to use them for extremely creative tasks - I’ve seen one action create random puffy clouds on a blue sky background. Now, even tool options can be set through actions and actions can also be saved as droplets. These droplets can trigger batch operations, when folders of images are dragged on top of them.

Vector graphics - Adobe followed Jasc’s lead in vector integration and now adds its vector functionality. Vector clipping paths can be applied to each layer in a photograph and resolution-independent text can be added to photos. Crisp type quality can then be maintained in both PDF and Postscript output. Vector shapes can now be drawn, independent of output resolution.

OS Support shift - Support for Windows 2000 and ME has been added, 98 and NT 4.0 remains and Windows 95 is now dropped. (8.5, 8.6 and 9.0 for Macs).

That’s a quick summary. I’ll let you know how these key features work and elaborate about them in greater detail during our upcoming product review. Other new web features are:

Dynamic layer based slices - JavaScript rollovers can more easily be created simply by assigning an effect to a layer and letting ImageReady make the slices.

Easier image maps - Use rectangle, ellipse and polygon tools to create map areas and define rollover states.

Rollover styles - Effects of rollovers and their states can be saved as ImageReady styles. These styles can help you replicate this faster to other portions of your graphics to produced dynamic effects more quickly.

Slice sets - Like layer sets, slices can also be clustered into sets, for easier output

Faster buttons - With the vector tools and layer styles, buttons and bars are quicker to create. 

 


Applied Science Fiction
Digital Dry Film Process
With a name like Applied Science Fiction, you have to create cutting edge technologies and they do. They have created a technology that can produce digital images from exposed, UNDEVELOPED film - a truly 21st Century concept.

In a process that takes about seven minutes per roll, micro-amounts of a proprietary developing agent are applied to the exposed, undeveloped film as it is being fed through their image-capture machine. This environmentally friendly digital dry film process (DDFP) requires no water, generates no hazardous waste and makes complete silver recovery from the film possible. Next, a digital record of each image is captured. Color and exposure settings are established on a pixel-by-pixel basis for the entire image. Since the output data is pure digital they can be routed to multiple destinations, including the Web, printers, file servers, hard drives or anywhere digital data can be stored. All without any plumbing!

Applied Science Fiction’s “film in, bits out” technology takes advantage of the high quality film images, produced by traditional cameras, and allows them to function more like digital cameras. Produced images can be saved in any image file format, just like digital cameras. Now consumers can more easily “go digital” without having to buy new cameras.

Unfortunately, this DDFP develops the film directly to a digital format so no film negatives are generated and if needed would have to be created by outputting the digital record to a film recorder. Since most consumers probably prefer a CD of images to an envelope of negatives, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Applied Science Fiction’s DDFP technology processes both 35mm and Advanced Photo System (APS) film formats. It is expected to be available in photo kiosks and minilabs, worldwide, in the fourth quarter of 2001.

2002 Update: After a delay, this technology is being tested in the marketplace during the summer of 2002. 

 


ArcSoft PhotoStudio 2000
Need to do image enhancement and need to have the same program work on Macs as well as PCs? Can’t afford $609 for a copy of Photoshop 6? Or even $199 for the upgrade? Well, ArcSoft has the solution for you. For only $99, ArcSoft PhotoStudio 2000 is a full featured image software package with layers, macros, undo and special effects. (PC version is only $39.) PhotoStudio 2000 also:

  • permits up to 100 layers. Each one allows independent special effects or other alterations without affecting other layers.

  • includes a Macro feature so effects can be performed with a single click.

  • allows "batch" processing of images with a single click of a mouse.

  • provides features such as transparency backgrounds, editable text, red-eye removal and other retouching tools.

  • performs instant adjustment image parameters such as brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation.

  • includes special effects such as clone, smudge, emboss and ripple.

  • manages images easily. Image files can be stored and retrieved quickly and easily inside the album manager. These images can be posted or uploaded to the Web, without leaving the program or launching another application. Multimedia presentations can also be created. 

     


    Ezonics EZPhone Cam
    Want to video chat with a friend? Don’t like those dull rectangular video cams? Want something cooler and trendier? Ezonics has the solution - their new EZPhone Cam. It’s a USB camera, mounted in a slick chassis that looks like a wildly colored cell phone.

    After installation, all it takes is one push of the “One Touch Call Button” and your buddy list is launched. When you see that your friend is online, simply double click and you’re calling them. If they have an EZPhone Cam, it “rings” and the antenna flashes, to let them know that you are calling. They simply press their “One Touch Call Button” - and Voila! - You’re connected!

    The EZPhone Cam is compatible with Microsoft Netmeeting and other major video conferencing programs. With the included software, you can E-mail a full motion video, complete with audio, as well. You can even take still pictures, with just a push of a single button. Ezonics even includes software to helps you make cards and calendars with these pictures. Retails for about $120.

    The EZPhone Cam also:

  • uses a 320,000 pixel CMOS sensor capable of 24 bit color

  • has five different resolutions ranging from 160x120 to 640x480

  • has manual focus from 10 cm to infinity

  • includes a 2 meter cable

  • has shutter speed, video modes, brightness and contrast which are software controlled

  • has TWAIN compatibility for still images

  • supports Windows 98, ME, 2000 (this is a USB device)

  • includes 8 software titles including Ulead iPhoto Express 3.0, Ezonics EZSuite and Live Express Snapshot. 

     


    Fujifilm's Jam Cam
    Hi-res digicam plus MP3 player
    Talk about media convergence - the FujiFilm 40i squeezes both a hi-res digital camera and an MP3 player into a palm-sized package.

    If it weren't for this camera's solid features and outstanding resolution, the combination could have come across as a forced gimmick. But, the 40i works hard not to short-change either of its functions.

    The camera offers hefty 2.4 megapixels of resolution (interpolated up to 4.3 megapixels!) and all the features you'd expect like manual/auto exposure modes, built-in flash, the ability to take short video clips (with audio), etc.

    But, the MP3 features aren't just tacked on. The 40i includes headphones, a tethered remote for controlling MP3 playback and provides audio mixing settings to match your eardrums' tastes.

    A compact implementation of a cool idea, the FujiFilm FinePix 40i is a digital camera that begs to be carried even when you aren't taking pictures.

    Features:

    - $699
    - 2.4 Megapixels (4.3M output)
    - 3x digital zoom (at lower res)
    - 8MB SmartMedia(TM) card
    - Stereo headphones
    - Tethered remote for player/camera
    - Built-in flash
    - Optical and 1.8" LCD viewfinders
    - Captures AVI video w/ sound
    - Metallic silver or blue
    - NTSC/PAL video out
    - USB port for downloads
    - Compact: 3.4"W x 2.8"H x 1.1"D

    Software:

    - Adobe ActiveShare(R) photo editing
    - RealJukebox(R) digital audio 

     


    IBM's 1-Gigabyte Microdrive
    Massive storage in a miniscule package
    IBM's new Microdrive introduced this week offers the same portable virtues as its 340MB predecessor but with three times the capacity (a full gigabyte).

    Just plug the roomy drive into any device with a compatible CompactFlash+ Type II or PCMCIA slot (using an adapter), and you'll gain vast quantities of space for your applications, images, or digital audio files.

    Amazingly, the new drive is less of a drain on your batteries than the previous models and has a 50% higher shock rating than before.

    The new 1GB Microdrive will retail for less than $500 while a 512MB model will sell for under $400. Those prices help keep IBM's Microdrives on top as just about the cheapest (per megabyte) and highest capacity option for demanding portable storage.

    Companies with compatible devices include:
    Acer, Casio, Kodak, Fujifilm, Hewlett-Packard, i2Go, Minolta, Nikon, Psion, RICOH, and Sanyo. 

     


    Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7
    The latest release of Paint Shop Pro from Jasc promises astounding new functionality.

    Most significant is PSP7's support for vector shapes and layers. You can endlessly rearrange and transform these lines and geometric shapes without losing detail.

    Likewise, the text tool has become more drawing-tool-like, allowing you to draw text on a path, shape the text's profile and fill text with gradients or patterns.

    PSP7 boasts improved photo enhancement features like red-eye removal, scratch removal, and easier color correction using the new Adjustable Histogram tool.

    With new Image Mapping, Image Slicing, and Image optimization features, Jasc has taken PSP7 in the same direction as ImageReady or Fireworks, turning it into a single-application web production tool.

    Overall, PSP7's new feature show real attention to the needs of graphics designer. Even core features have gotten a facelift. The Zoom tool now offers a handy Overview window that lets you see the forest even while working on the trees. The new Style Palette expands the old color palette to include much needed direct controls for outline width/color and texture gradient/pattern, among other things.

    Key New Features

    - Vector shapes
    - Multi-level named undo/redo
    - Multiple image printing
    - Overview window
    - Text-on-a-path. text gradients
    - Adjustment layers
    - Image Mapper, Slicer
    - Image Optimization, Live Preview
    - Zoom Overview window
    - Photo-fixing tools
    - Adjustable histogram 

     


    Kodak Advantix Preview
    bridges digital and film worlds
    With one foot in the digital domain and the other in advanced film, the Kodak Advantix Preview camera provides an excellent blend of these two imaging technologies. One of the key advantages of “shooting” digital is the ability to immediately SEE the image you have taken and this latest Advantix camera provides this capability to film picture takers.

    During the preview mode, you can decide how many reprints are desired, if any, and that information is stored magnetically on the film. During processing, the selected number of each print is automatically produced. Even if zero prints are selected, the image is still permanently stored on the film negative and can be easily reprinted.

    Kodak has also eliminated another problem with film photography - changing the film speed partway through a roll of film. To solve this with film today, and without wasting film, you either have several cameras or interchangeable camera backs, each loaded with a different film, to be able to change film speed. Now, this Advantix camera lets you change film, in the MIDDLE of the roll, and reinsert it later, WITHOUT losing any images!

    This camera provides a wonderful transition camera for anyone who wants to start getting “into” digital, but isn’t ready to take the full plunge. I feel this camera would be great on outdoor trips, since having a bag full of film is much simpler than dealing with image downloads in the field. When you get home, you can order Picture CDs from Kodak, so you can easily have digital images, prints and long lasting film negatives.

    The Kodak Advantix Preview camera also:

  • is the world’s first camera to add preview to an Advanced Photo System (APS) camera

  • has a zoom lens and state-of-the art flash

  • features easy point and shoot capability

  • is reasonably priced at around $300. 

     


    Kodak DC5000
    Rugged Resolution
    If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC5000, would be the likeable, rugged outdoors type (below). Its opposite, the DC4800, would more be the the smart yet approachable type. Read about it here.

    Do you ever feel guilty about taking a piece of expensive electronics out of its padded bag and into the elements? Afraid your boss and/or spouse will kill you if your technical marvel is wrecked by a raindrop or sandbagged by a sand grain?

    Someone at Kodak must have felt your angst, because they just introduced the multi-megapixel camera for you.

    The DC5000 is a rugged, weather-proof device that doesn't skimp on technical specs despite its thick hide. The camera includes solid features like 2X optical zoom, built-in flash with red eye reduction, removeable CompactFlash and both an LCD and optical viewfinder.

    Best of all, the camera's many options and functions are accessable via oversized controls designed to be workable by large or gloved hands.

    So, if you dispaired that digital cameras couldn't weather the dirt and drizzle of your typical photo opportunities, Kodak's DC5000 might be your rugged ray of hope.

    Features:

    - Weather-proof construction
    - Oversized controls
    - 2.0 megapixel (1760 x 1168)
    - 2X optical zoom (30 - 60 mm)
    - 3x digital zoom
    - Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
    - Media: CompactFlash
    - Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD and optical
    - PC interface: USB, serial
    - Shutter speeds: 1/2s to 1/755s
    - Effects: B/W, sepia, borders
    - Video: NTSC/PAL
    - Power: 4 AA batteries
    - Dimensions: 140mm x 89mm x 83mm (WxDxH)
    - Weight: 459g (1 lbs) w/out batteries 

     


    Kodak DC4800 Digital Camera
    Handy Yet Powerful
    If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC4800 below would be the smart yet approachable one. Its opposite, the DC5000, would be more the likeable, rugged outdoors type (read about it here).

    If you want a smart digital camera that doesn't require much of you at first, but has hidden depths to explore, the DC4800 could be your favorite of the two.

    First you'll notice the unintimidating form factor, a relatively compact camera that looks a little like those sturdy German SLRs of the 60's. Unlike those cameras, however, the DC4800 has (if you chose) all the automatic features you would expect from a modern camera.

    Whether you chose more control or less, you get serious resolution (3.1 megapixels) and decent 3x zoom lens with a nice, wide-angle view when zoomed out all the way. Of course, you get both an LCD and optical viewfinder, video output, built-in flash, and your choice of picture resolutions.

    Get past its friendly features, though, and what sets this new camera apart (besides its generous pixel count) are its serious photographic specs.

    For instance, its light gathering ability approaches that of ISO 400 film. Another SLR-like feature is its wide shutter speed control, from 1/1000th of a second to a full 16 seconds. You can finally take that river-of-blurring-headlights-at-night cityscape you always wanted to capture.

    Taking together, the DC4800's automatic conveniences and photographic range might make this a friendly digital camera whose deeper qualities you could grow to respect (and really use).

    Features:

    - 3.1 megapixel (2160 x 1440)
    - 3X-optical zoom (28 - 84 mm)
    - 2X digital zoom
    - CompactFlash
    - 1.8" LCD and optical viewfinder
    - PC interface: USB
    - Image formats: lossy JPEG or uncompressed TIFF
    - Shutter speeds: 1/1000s to 16s
    - Effects: saturated, neutral, black- and-white, or sepia
    - ISO settings of 100, 200, and 400
    - Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
    - Time between shots: 2 secs per picture
    - Video out: NTSC or PAL
    - Burst frame rate: 2 to 5 fps
    - Power: Lithium-ion battery (charges in camera)
    - Dimensions: 120mm x 65mm x 69mm (WxDxH)
    - Weight: 320g (11.45 oz) w/out batteries 

     


    Lexmark Z82
    Low cost Printer/Scanner/Copier
    Lexmark has always strived to give incredible value for the money. The latest in their new line of printers, this multifunction device combines an ink-jet printer with a color scanner creating a product that can scan, print and copy. Earlier this year we reviewed a more expensive multifunction product, the Xerox XK35C along with the well balanced combination of the Umax 1220P and the Lexmark Z11.
    The Z82 will find good “value” company with the Z52 released earlier this year, a 2400x1200 printer at less than $180. Intended for consumer and small business use, the Lexmark Z82 can not only print, but scan as well. It can also be used as a digital color copier without utilizing your PC! From the sample print I saw, the print quality of the Z82 is superb and looks much better than a typical drugstore “print”.
    With the SmarThru 2 scanner software included, you can create your own message center that helps you to create, modify, send, receive and store e-mails and faxes. You scan a page, launch the fax manager which will then quickly send a fax through your connected PC to the remote fax machine. Even scanned attachments for E-mails can be easily created. Now you can easily send a paper document to friends of yours that have Emil, yet resist ever buying a fax machine. Now even signed documents can be sent via encrypted e-mails with the Lexmark Z82.
    Photographs can be scanned using the integrated scanner, at up to 600 dots per inch (dpi) resolution, which can be enhanced to 4800 dpi resolution in 24 bit color. Images created can be stored on your connected PC or can be printed immediately using the integrated 1,200 dpi color printer and the built-in copy feature. Since the scanner is flat, thick objects such as books, multipage reports and older, worn and torn photographs that couldn’t be scanned with motorized sheet fed scanners, can now be easily digitized.
    Feature list:
  • Print speed of up to 8 pages per minute (ppm) in black and 4 ppm in color.
  • Prints on a variety of media types, including heavy-stock stationery and transparencies.
  • Stand-alone, PC-free copier produces up to four copies per minute in black and up to 1.5 copies per minute in color. Up to 99 copies can be created from one original in a single session. The copied page can be enlarged or reduced in a range from 25 to 400 percent.
  • Accu-Feed paper handling system that virtually eliminates paper jams and mis-feeds. (I never had a single jam or double sheet feed with the Z52 earlier this year, even when I reloaded it, while the printer was still on, yet out of paper.)
  • Easy one-click printer driver installation
  • Convenient ink level indicators
  • USB AND parallel port connectivity
  • LexExpress warranty, featuring a next-business-day-exchange
  • Comes with supplies! When you buy it Lexmark includes a high resolution black cartridge, a high resolution color cartridge AND parallel cable. No more having run back to the store because you forgot an IEEE parallel port cable or cartridges or paying extra for them. 

     


    Logitech's Radio Roller
    Wireless, optical TrackMan FX
    Logitech announced the new TrackMan FX that combines comfortable, ergonomic style with cord-free, mechanical free functionality.

    Features:

    - $79.95
    - receiver plugs into USB or PS/2 port
    - radio-based, avoids line-of-sight obstructions
    - 4,000 individual digital security codes
    - optical tracking technology
    - adjustable, detachable wrist pad 

     


    Olympus P-200
    Mobile Digital Photo Printer
    Ok, you’ve taken some digital pictures and someone wants a print of one of your pictures. Now what? Ok, you can exchange cards or E-mail addresses and you can send them the picture, if you remember, but then they have to print the picture. There are also a number of Photo websites that will gladly print your pictures as well, but you need to upload the pictures to them. Why can’t this be simple, just like using an old Polaroid Land camera or an SX-70?

    Well, Olympus has a solution - the Camedia P-200 Mobile Digital Photo Printer. This portable, battery operated printer can print a 3x4 print in only 90 seconds. In addition to printing a single picture, it can print 2, 4, 9, or 16 images per print and can even produce a 40 image index print. Not enough? Well, there’s a three-step sharpness control, the ability to crop images along with the ability to add the time and date to prints. At a party and lots of people want copies? The copy function lets you produce up to 25 prints at one time.

    Weighing only 30 ounces, The Olympus P-200 can be easily carried in a camera gadget bag and the batteries last for 50 prints between recharges. $599 - available now.

    The Camedia P-200 Mobile Digital Photo Printer also:

  • uses Dye Sublimation technology to produce continuous tone images at 320 dots per inch resolution in over two million colors (128 gradation levels per color)

  • employs a 4-pass printing technology, one each color (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow), plus a UV overcoat layer to seal and protect the image.

  • can be used for test prints at on-location shoots, real estate, travel, insurance, law enforcement and accident scenes.

  • is compatible with both SmartMedia and Type I or II CompactFlash cards - just put the media in the proper slot and go

  • is compatible with Digital Print Order Form (DPOF) technology for image scheduling and number setting, as well as DCF, JPEG and TIFF file formats.

  • has a 25-sheet paper cassette with a matching 25-print ribbon capacity and is $24.95 per cassette (25 sheets with ribbon).

    In case you want a digital camera with a Polaroid film output, look at the Olympus C-211 digital camera

     


    Olympus Camedia E-10
    raises the megapixel bar
    Recently, at Photokina in Germany, Kodak displayed their 16 megapixel camera back for 2 1/4” photography. While that’s in the stratosphere for the most of us, what’s the most resolution you get NOW for a more reasonable price? 4 megapixels with the Olympus Camedia E-10. While its $1999 price tag isn’t going to put this digicam on everyone’s holiday shopping list, Olympus has created the world’s first 4 megapixel filmless digital SLR. Capable of producing images of 12 megabytes, this camera provides digital capabilities to the professional digital photographer and serious amateur.

    This camera has a staggering array of features, the most important is that this Olympus digicam can uses both COMPACT FLASH media and SmartMedia. No longer will Olympus digicam users have to be content with only 64 megabytes of removable memory, but they can still use it if they like this thinner media. I use the Olympus 3000 3.3 megapixel camera and having the ability to use Compact Flash memory would be the most important change I would definitely make, to an otherwise near-perfect camera.

    Another departure for Olympus is the use of the one-touch buttons and dials instead of layers of LCD menu commands. The Camedia E-10 has dedicated buttons to control the shooting modes, flash, white balance and media card settings. Aperture and shutter controls are also set using dials, so experienced users can set them without looking - something you can’t do with a menu choice. There are still some camera control menus, set-up choices and print menus that are displayed on the LCD screen. I know this will be great for photography professionals, although most computer professionals probably don’t mind the menu choices.

    This high-resolution (114,000 pixel) TFT LCD screen, is adjustable from -20 degrees (down) to a 90 degree position (up, like a waist level viewfinder). Now you can position the camera and preview the image from a more comfortable angle and get a 100% accurate area-view of subject. No more crawling on the ground to get those dramatic shots.

    To give the feel of a true SLR, Olympus has included a manual focusing ring on the lens barrel, a manual zoom ring and a traditional-style focusing screen. For those that prefer computerized picture taking, the Camedia E-10 also offers dual AutoFocus using the patented IR-active focus system for initial focus and a TTL passive focus for a finer, more accurate focus.

    The E-10 camera body is all aluminum for durability and reduced weight, including the “Mirror Box” around the imaging CCD, which acts as a heat sink to dissipate heat and improve photographic quality. This all-in-one design keeps the 2/3" RGB Interlaced CCD (2240 x 1680 pixels) clean and safe from harmful environmental conditions such as dust and humidity.

    The Olympus Camedia E-10 also

  • uses four AA batteries for power

  • has a 32 MB SD-RAM Buffer built in, so it can capture up to 4 pictures as fast as 3 per second in burst mode

  • can shoot a picture every 1.2 seconds without stopping.

  • has an ISO range of 80, 160 or 320. I really wish this maximum could be higher. Indoors and with sports fast action, a faster ISO is always helpful.

  • is infrared remote and remote cable capable

  • can store images in a variety of formats, qualities and resolutions. Formats include uncompressed TIFF, JPEG and a 48-bit Olympus RAW mode

  • has a shutter speed range from 8 seconds to 1/640 second

  • can display a Histogram in Playback mode on LCD. Wow, this is a feature in a $10,000+ Kodak camera and it can be handy in the field.

  • uses a 4X 9 mm to 36 mm zoom lens (in 35 mm terms, this is equivalent to a 35 mm to 140 mm zoom)

  • has a built-in Flash with several modes Low-light automatic, back-light automatic, red-eye reducing or Fill-in.

  • features NTSC video out for viewing photos on a television or capturing on a VCR.

  • weighs 37 ounces/1048 grams (without batteries). This is not a lightweight pocket cam, but the stunning resolution is worth the weight. 

     


    Raindrop Geomagic Studio 3.0
    Even as standard digital photography becomes more and more mainstream, new technology arriving in the marketplace is making 3D digital photography easier to create and produce. After all, this is the 21st century.

    Raindrop Geomagic is now shipping Geomagic Studio 3.0, which can create lifelike 3D models from physical objects. (Read how it is done below.) These models can then be used in engineering or artistically to synthesize new photographs at different angles and lighting effects.

    Geomagic Studio models can also be used for interactive 3D visualization and for custom built-to-order products. These models can also be used to create solid objects using 3D printers.

    Geomagic feels that their technology will help launch new industries based on 3D photography such as:

  • interactive 3D commerce where consumers can interact with 3D catalogs and see how products look from different angles and with different lighting.

  • custom businesses. If all the specific dimensions of your body are stored, clothes could be manufactured that fit perfectly, without any alterations. Products such as custom cars, motorcycles or corporate aircraft can be viewed BEFORE they are build so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises when your “one of a kind” custom is delivered. Even custom toys and games could be created at an affordable cost.

  • medical prosthetics. Items such as implants, replacement joints can be made more accurately without requiring surgeons to modify the fit of the replacement part in the operating room.

  • reproductions. Now complex works of art can be reproduced quickly and easily. Out of production vehicle parts can be stored in a digital inventory and “printed” out in 3D when ordered.

    Raindrop Geomagic Studio also:

  • integrates with 3D products from: Arius3D (3D capturing); Z-corp (3D printing); Viewpoint (3D publishing on the web); NVIDIA (3D GPU).

  • increases productivity by using a layout template to eliminate repetitive tasks in similar models.

  • provides automatic edge sharpening, which helps to reconstruct sharp edges lost during the scanning process.

  • can add rich, detailed color to both point cloud and polygon models.

  • can generate extremely detailed texture, displacement and bump maps for streaming 3D content.

  • employs algorithms to fill holes and blemishes in the original scanned model. Now the results will look better than the original!

  • supports Sun Solaris environment (in addition to PCs) and NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs).


    How Raindrop Geomagic Studio creates a digital model from a physical object:


    Data is collected from a 3D scanner. This collected data is a “point cloud” consisting of thousands of data points in space, which form the surface of the object.

    These points are then mathematically transformed into a “polygonal mesh”. This mesh consists of small polygons formed by connecting adjacent data points. Since there are thousands of points, there are thousands of polygons, much too complex to be useful.

    By using more mathematics, many neighboring (and nearly parallel) polygons are merged into larger polygons that still accurately describe the model's surface. While simplified, the model is still complex and there is no sense of shape interrelationships.

    Therefore, the model is transformed (yet again with more mathematics), into a collection of 3D curve patches or NURBS. This stands for Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines. This elegant mathematical representation helps further simplify the model. A 2D analogy would be to draw a series of 100 points in a perfect circle. It is far easier to describe this object as a circle with a specific center point and radius than it is give the coordinates of each point (similar to a point cloud) or a series of a 100 line segments (similar to a polygon mesh).

    Not only does this make the model more compact, it smooths the object where it needs to be smooth which makes it appear more realistic at different viewing angles and close up. 

     


    Sanyo IDC-1000Z
    The Sanyo IDC-1000Z iDshot is the world's first digital camera to use a 730 MB magneto-optical disk, one of the largest capacity removable media cartridges, convenient for digicam use. This is astounding. This Sanyo camera is capable of storing 11,000 full frame VGA (640x480) still images or 120 minutes of video clips at 15 fps (160x120 resolution) without requiring any computer download. By simply replacing this iD Format MO (magneto optical) media cartridge with another one, you’re ready for another 11,000 pictures! Since this miniature drive is capable of transferring data at a quick 20 Mbps, it should be able to keep up with even the most avid picture taker.

    The most dramatic feature is that the Sanyo 1000Z can capture FULL frame VGA MOVIES at 30 frames per second. The internal Sanyo Hyper RISC Graphic processor can also capture high speed consecutive still shots. With a pocketful of iD Format MO media cartridges and this camera, you could go to Europe for several weeks and leave the laptop home, since you won’t have to download at all!

    To move the massive 730 megabytes of images off the camera quickly, the IDC-1000Z uses an IEEE 1394 port, which can transfer data at up to 400 megabits per second. Since this Sanyo digicam acts like a hard disk drive to the host computer, downloading the pictures becomes an easy “drag and drop” affair. Since you can also reverse the process and store files on the camera, you can use this digicam as a back up device for your PC or laptop. If you need an excuse to ask your boss for one of these, just tell him it’s your new high-speed “backup” device.

    This camera also has many features generally found in film movie cameras such as its ability to easily create time-lapse movies by taking still images at fixed intervals. The 1000Z can be used creatively as a still animation camera, so you could try your hand at your own version of Claymation or a Gumby cartoon. Any budding animators out there? Here’s your camera.

    The Sanyo IDC-1000Z iDshot digital camera also:

  • can playback its own video clips through the viewfinder. All video clips are motion JPEG compressed and are directly compatible with Apple QuickTime format. This is a feature I miss on the Olympus 3000 because I have to download the clips and can only watch them on a PC.

  • uses shutter speed priority auto exposure for moving objects. Many of today’s digicams lower their shutter speed (make them slower) and if you are not ready for it, you end up with blurred, streaky images. This is caused by your movement, however slight, while the picture was being taken. This automated feature should help to eliminate that.

  • has an automatic exposure lock. While I prefer a fully manual mode, if you want to take several pictures at the same exposure level, for consistency, this feature is critical.

  • has an automatic exposure “slide” feature - this is called bracketing in other cameras. In the Sanyo, seven pictures at differing exposure levels are taken with a single click of the shutter. At the incredible speed of this camera and the vast storage size, if I wasn’t sure of the correct exposure, I would use this feature. Why not, what’s 6 extra pictures in 10,000?

  • has a 1/2 inch, 1.5 megapixel CCD. While this is reasonable, I feel that the best use of 730 meg removable media cartridges is in 3 and 4 megapixel cameras. If this drive was connected to an Olympus 3000, I could shoot over 80 UNCOMPRESSED, 9 megabyte TIFF images or nearly 500 high resolution, high quality JPEG images. Downloading would NEVER be an issue, especially on a trip.

  • uses a half inch electronic viewfinder. This feature serves to keep the overall cost down and helps to eliminate the problem of not being able to see the LCD in bright surroundings. Unfortunately, this feature will make picture sharing more difficult, since each person would have to peer into the viewfinder to see each picture, one at a time, since there wouldn’t be any group viewing.

  • has a 3X optical lens. About average, but wish it were higher, like the Sony Mavica 10X and 14X, Casio’s 8X and the new Olympus 10X zooms.

  • has a 35mm zoom equivalent of 11 to 38 mm. If these figures are used in the production version, this camera is designed for wide-angle “landscape vista” pictures only. Wide angle cameras are great for trips to the Grand Canyon, but aren't too practical for people photography.

  • has a shutter speed range of 16 seconds to 1/500 second in still photography mode.

  • records still images in both TIFF and JPEG modes

  • records sound in WAV format

  • transfers data via either a USB or IEEE1394 port. Since the camera can be used as a hard drive, you must use the camera to transfer images. This precludes sending only the cartridge off to someone else to view the images, unless they have a Sanyo IDC-1000Z. The data backup capability is very handy.

  • runs on Lithium Ion batteries or AC adapter

    The estimated price will be $1,299 and won’t be shipping until early 2001. Since the camera is a prototype at this point, there are still several unknowns about the camera such as:

  • its final weight with lens

  • if it has a built-in flash

  • what the camera ISO equivalent will be and if it is adjustable.

  • what the F-stop range will be

  • if the given zoom range will be increased or changed

    Overall, it seems like a reasonable set of features for a mid range (only 1.5 megapixels) camera with an ENORMOUS capacity, which is the most compelling reason to buy this camera. There are times, especially during long events, that I would have gladly reduced my 3 megapixel resolution half, for the ability not to have to download images for an entire week. If my Sony Mavica, that I bought in late 1997, used this media instead of floppy disks, I would only be using my second media cartridge after taking over 14,000 pictures! 

     


    Sony PictureBook Climbs Aboard The Transmeta CPU Express
    High Performance and Long Run Times Promised
    In a significant move, Sony Corporation has announced its category creating, high performance, ultralight 2.2 pound VAIO C1 PictureBook notebook computer will be powered by the Transmeta 600 MHz Crusoe processor. This processor is built for low power consumption using 18 micron CMOS technology.

    This is the first consumer product to use the long awaited Crusoe processor. This latest version of the Sony Picturebook, with state of the art Transmeta technology, should open up a wide range of new applications and opportunities in various industries. The use of this processor may signal Sony's intention of releasing of more revolutionary mobile products in the near future.

    The Crusoe TM5600 processor is capable of running at speeds up to 800 MHz in the near future, while reducing power consumption over previous Transmeta and other competitive processors. This should significantly increase the battery life of the Sony C1 from the current 1 to 6 hour range to a 2 to 10+ hour range, depending on battery pack configuration and computing tasks. By using less power, users gain in several ways. Devices can be made smaller and thereby increasing their mobility since battery packs could be made smaller and large heat sinks and cooling fans can be eliminated. The devices will also run at a cooler operating temperature, since the processor won't generate as much heat.

    With a base price of $2300, the new VAIO PictureBook C1VN ultra notebook features the Crusoe 600 MHz processor, with a Level 2 cache of 512KB, 128 megabytes of SDRAM and a 12 GB hard drive. During our testing of Intel powered PictureBooks, we have found the unit to be fast and extremely stable. We also find that the Picturebook series is extremely well designed, highly adaptable, easy to use and perform at high levels in both normal and demanding real world conditions. The new Crusoe processor offers the promise of extended power and cool temperatures to an already cool design. I wonder if a new operating system option is in the Picturebook's future as well.

    The popular progressive scan camera is still built-in and with Transmeta's latest processor technology, I feel these units should fly off the shelves even faster. 

     


    Terapin CD Video Recorder
    While many companies tout the recordable DVD as the digital format for consumers to store their own videos, TeraOptix has created the Terapin CD Video recorder that uses more conventional and lower cost recording technology. For about 600 dollars, you are now able to record any video source directly to CD-R media. Now it is quite inexpensive to record a TV program you missed, since some generic CD-R media is only thirty cents each. Considering a bulk pack of fifty CDs takes up far less space than the equivalent VHS tape volume, finding that program again should also be much faster.

    While there are plenty of ways to digitize video on your PC, the Terapin CD Video recorder doesn’t require any computer expertise or even a computer to operate - it’s self contained. It behaves just like a conventional VCR, except you insert round CD media instead of a tape. Playback is accomplished through this device, as well as CD video players, DVD players and a multimedia PC. It also comes with a remote (see below).

    Now that I look over the product specs and features, I have to wonder why more companies haven’t created one of these - a simple, easy to use, digital video recorder, using inexpensive rigid media instead of tape.

    The Terapin CD Video recorder also:

  • records 74 minutes of motion video with audio in CD-DA or VideoCD format on CD-R Audio and CD-RW Audio media

  • requires NO MORE REWINDING! This feature alone almost make this CD Video recorder worth it and no more jammed or broken tapes either.

  • has Slow Motion and Fast Forward/Rewind Playback at 3 different speeds each

  • shows full OSD (on screen display) on PCs and TVs

  • can play directly from a specific time location on the CD disk. You no longer have to wait while you fast forward or rewind to arrive at the desired scene - you can just “skip” directly to it. While DVD has this feature, you now have this capability for your OWN content. Instead of having to wait to access a particular scene in the video of your son or daughter’s birthday, graduation or wedding, you can simply “skip” to it. And unlike tape, you won’t wear out the CD media as you play it for friends and neighbors that drop by.

  • features a wild, nine pane “split screen” mode that helps you more quickly find the start of your desired scene

  • has video inputs and outputs for S-Video and Composite video. Representative video sources include camcorders, television broadcasts, VCRs, DVD players and cable set top boxes.

  • has stereo inputs for optical, coaxial and analog audio. Representative audio sources include CD players, PCs, DAT devices, DVD players, tuners, tape decks and phonographs. Audio outputs include coaxial and analog.

  • is available in 3 colors (Raven Grey, Lava Red and Ice Blue). My favorite color - Ice Blue - is shown above and below.

  • is compatible with both American NTSC and European PAL formats

  • has a 90dB signal to noise ratio and 0.05% THD (Total Harmonic distortion)

  • includes a remote control that matches the device.



     

     

    Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.

    Copyright © 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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