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ImageScape 2000
"Imaging Beyond the PC"
by Rick Smith (June 14, 2000)


 

On Wednesday, June 28th, 2000 at 8:00 a.m., in the Manhattan Center in New York, Alan Kessler, Chief Operating Officer of Palm keynoted this event. A panel discussion examined how the technology of digital imaging is moving beyond the desktop immediately followed. The panelists were Stephen Saylor, Co-Founder and General Manger, FlashPoint Technology; Lorie Wigle, Internet Imaging Services General Manager, Intel; Nancy Carr, Director, Worldwide Marketing Communications & Vice President, Digital and Applied Imaging, Kodak; Jonathan Ruff, Director, Connected Products & Technologies, Motorola; James Joaquin, President and CEO, Ofoto and Bill McCoy, President and CEO, PictureIQ.

After the conclusion of the panel discussion, the following exhibitors demonstrated their latest products:

ACD Systems
Alchemedia
Altamira Group
Applied Science Fiction
Digimarc MediaBridge
ememories.com
Epson
EZ Prints
FlashPoint Technology
FrameLogix
GatherRound.com
HP Home Imaging Division
HP ScanJet
iPIX
Jasc
Kodak
LizardTech
Motorola Personal Networking Group
Nikon
Ofoto
Olympus
Palm
Photodex
PhotoPoint
PhotoWorks
PictureIQ
Pixami
Questra Corporation
ShareAPhoto.com
UMAX Technologies
vyou.com
Zing

View our coverage of the previous Imagescape at Comdex.


Altamira Genuine Fractals 2.0
Slimmer image files, more output options
Altamira has released version 2.0 of its award winning Genuine Fractals plug-in for Photoshop. Genuine Fractals uses wavelet compression and fractal mathematics to solve two nagging problems for photographers: Transmitting or storing hi-res photos efficiently and still being able to repurpose those mages for different media.

First, from within your favorite image-processing program, Genuine Fractals lets you dramatically compress multi-megabyte images. You can choose exactly how much detail you want to keep from 100% (lossless) to extremely little. But, Altamira says you can safely compress most images to a 1/5th of their original, uncompressed size without visual loss and in many cases 10:1 compression is more than acceptable.

This drastic size reduction would be a boon to field photographers who could then store more and/or higher resolution images while still saving time uploading those images to the home office.

But, compression isn't Altamira's whole story because their image decompression process (i.e. rendering) has one, very special talent: it can actually add synthetic details to scaled-up images. This means that the "money-shot" you got on your 3-megapixel camera could be blown up to poster-sized without looking like a ceramic-tile mosaic.

So, if you are serious about your digital photographs but seriously hate their bulk, you should check out Genuine Fractals 2.0, a tool that dares to declare both "high compression" and "image enhancement" as its strengths. 

 


New Epson Printer
Stylus Photo 2000P
The Epson Photo 2000P will be shipping in mid-July 2000 and boasts high quality output capable of lasting 200 years before fading (if mounted in a glass frame under fluorescent lighting). Intended for the professional market, this printer can truly be considered an archival photo reproduction printer and is priced at $900. This large format (13"x 44") printer has a 1440x720 dpi output resolution and can print the entire 13 width, without any borders.

The output I saw at DigitalFocus looked more like the photographic prints made in a darkroom, instead of being output from a computer. In fact, color printers are getting so good, it seems like I will now have to take a loupe with me, to critically evaluate color printer output at trade shows since they are getting so good. 

 


Jasc updates Quick View
Today, Jasc introduced the latest version of Quick View Plus that now offers Zip/Unzip capability. I also found out that the beta version of Paint Shop Pro will be downloadable THIS Thursday, the last day of PC Expo. 

 


Jasc Trajectory Pro [pre-release]
Vector graphics tool showing progress
When we took a look at it back in April, we thought Jasc's work-in-progress, Trajectory Pro, looked promising (see story). Well, this latest public release shows that it still is, for two reasons:

First, the object/vector drawing tool market is ripe for a "right-priced" but serious illustration product. And, Jasc has proven with PaintShop Pro that it isn't afraid to compete against the graphics heavyweights at a lightweight price.

Secondly, Jasc is doing the development out in the open by basing the product on SVG, an emerging vendor-neutral graphics standard, and aggressively soliciting customer feedback on the free, beta releases.

The latest beta version (v0.3) demonstrates the ability to apply SVG filter effects to individual objects. Since these effects are completely editable and reversible, you can experiment with special effects on an object-by-object basis without painting yourself into a corner, so to speak.

No word yet on an eventual release date, but we can hope that an initial version is released this Fall. 

 


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 

 


New Nikon Coolpix 990
Great rez, nifty features
Nikon has reason to show off its new Coolpix digital camera this week. Besides its respectable pedigree, the Coolpix 990 boasts multiple megapixel resolution, some semi-pro features, and a killer software bundle.

While you shouldn't blindly follow the "more pixels is better" trend, the fact that this camera grabs 3 and 1/3 times as many pixels as many of last year's cameras, should make it worth a look.

Also, while many manufacturers think gobs of resolution makes up for a whimpy zoom, Nikon has wisely kept the 3x optical zoom (with additional Coolpix lenses available). In addition, you get a unique, step-less 4x digital zoom that smooths the sudden jumps between digital zoom levels.

Nikon has made sure that all that extra resolution isn't wasted by adding the option to save uncompressed images in the camera. Once uploaded to your PC, however, you can use software (Altimira's Genuine Fractals LE) that Nikon has thoughtfully bundled with the camera to compress these multi-megabyte images down to a manageable size with little visible loss of detail.

More professional features include the ability to sync up to four external flashes to the camera. Yet, when a picture requires natural light, the Coolpix 990 can be set to soak up the same low-light detail as ISO 400 film.

Even with all the lighting and exposure controls, capturing a hand-held snapshot at exactly the right moment usually requires a fair bit of luck. But, the 990 offers a mode that will squeeze off 10 shots in 5 seconds and automatically choose the most detailed, jitter-free image.

Details like these suggest that Nikon understands the process of photography and cares about the end result: A quality captured image. If they've applied that philosophy as well to this camera as its predecessors, the Coolpix 990 should deliver the goods.

Features:

- 3.34 megapixel (2048 x 1536)
- 3x optical, 4x digital zoom (step-less)
- Storage: 16 MB CompactFlash
- Video Capture: 1.5 fps full-res, 30 fps 160x100
- Interface: USB and serial
- Accepts Coolpix lenses (wide-angle, fisheye, telephoto)
- Flash: Red-eye reduction (and up to 4 slave Speedlights)
- Macro: .8" to infinity
- Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD, optical
- Uncompressed TIFF or JPEG
- NTSC/PAL video out
- Power: 4 AA
- Dimensions: 5.9" x 3.1" x 1.5"
- Weight: 13.8 oz. (approx)

Bundled Software:

- Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE (Altamira Group)
- iPIX immersive imaging 

 


Olympus P-400 Color Printer
Affordable, stand-alone, photo-quality
Just when we were starting to believe ink jet printers were achieving a pinnacle of personal printing art, Olympus has come along to remind us that ink jets aren't the only (or best) game in town.

The newly introduced sub-$1000 P-400 puts dye-sublimation printing in the reach of serious amateur digital photographers or pros that need print-service quality without print-service expense. This printer brings the continuous tonal range and 16.7 million colors of high-end printers down to earth at a tenth of the cost of previous dye-sublimation printers.

What's more, the P-400 offers stand-alone print processing features that might inspire you to bring it out of the photo-lab and into the field. For instance, it can print digital images directly from SmartMedia or PC Cards without the need for a PC. The included LCD panel controls then allow a wedding or other event photographer to specify trimming, framing, and background images. Several available print modes let the printer produce everything from proof sheets to full-sized, photographic-quality prints on the spot.

On the road or in the office, Olympus' P-400 could make satisfying demanding users (and their discriminating customers) an affordable proposition. Even better, The P-400 extends the instant gratification of digital photography to include uncompromising, photographic quality.

Print modes:

- full size, postcard (2 or 4 per page)
- photo-album (1 to 6 images w/ with background)
- index (45 - 260 images per page)

Features:

- Colors: 16.7 million (8 bit/color)
- Print Size: 8.25" x 11.7"
- Photo Size: 8" x 10"
- Speed: 90-second per page
- Interface: parallel port and USB
- Media: SmartMedia, PC card
- LCD Panel
- Dimensions: 30" high x 17" wide x 17" deep
- Effects: black & white and sepia filters
- Functions: trimming, framing, background image, stamp
- Print up to 50 copies at a time
- Cost per print: $1.90 (50 sheets per cartridge)
- List price: $999  

 

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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