other sharpener plug-ins, Asiva Sharpen+Soften also provides
the ability to soften an image. With a semi-user friendly
interface that geeks will love, it helped sharpen a digital
file of a classic car that was captured using an inexpensive
but not particularly sharp lens.
Comcast promises broadband
coverage in my area real soon now and since I wanted both computers to
connect to the web it also required a router. The official techie definition
of a router is that it's a device that "forwards packets of
data between networks or systems based on network layer information and
routing tables, often constructed by routing protocols." In reality,
it's an inexpensive box that lets you link two or more systems together
and makes setting up a network as simple as hooking up a home music system
and less complex than a home theater.
I used a D-Link (www.dlink.com)
router that cost less than $50 along with two cables. One cable was connected
to the Power Mac, the other to the eMachines' box. Using both operating
systems' built-in networking capabilities, I set them to allow me
to mount the Windows computer's hard drive on the G4's desktop.
Macintosh expert Kevin Elliott (www.macmdcare.com)
tells me I need to do more software tweaking to get the Windows XP box
to see the Mac, but I don't care--at least in the short run.
When high-speed Internet connectivity finally arrives in beautiful, downtown
Brighton, the installer will connect his cables to the router giving me
broadband access via both machines while still being able to share data
between them. Since cable modems are always "on," the D-Link
router has a built-in firewall to protect from attacks by intruders and
120GB SimpleDrive takes up 1/4 less desktop space as my
old external FireWire drive, gives me four times the storage
space, and costs less than $200.
Plug-In Of The Month
Shapiro Consulting Group, Inc. (SCGI) makers of the intriguing, I'd
sure like to learn how to use it maybe I'll read the manual one
of these days, Asiva Photo has gotten into the Photoshop compatible plug-in
business with Asiva Sharpen+Soften. Unlike other sharpening software,
this one also lets you soften an image, too, and features a semi-user
friendly interface that geeks will love while the rest of us will have
to spend a little time figuring it out. But not to worry; it's easier
than it looks. This is the first in a series of plug-ins that SCGI will
be releasing over the next couple of months, including Correct+Apply Color,
Shift+Gain Component, and Create Mask. All of the plug-ins in this new
family work with Photoshop 5.5-7 and Mac OS 9 and OS X. SCGI hints that
additional sets of plug-ins may include noise reduction or artistic functions.
They also plan to port the plug-ins to Adobe After Effects and Final Cut
Pro; so check the website (www.asiva.com)
for news about updates.
One of the highlights for me of the annual New England
Camera Club Council conference in Amherst, Massachusetts,
is the model shoots. The program chairman always has charming
young models available to pose for the photographers at
various locations around the campus, including the Campus
Center. This image of a pretty collegian was made by combining
two files made with a Minolta DiMAGE Xt with fill flash.
Cat Got Your Files?
We've become blasé about the magic of digital capture. While
nobody would dream of opening a camera back when it's loaded with
film, some pixologists think nothing of ripping a CompactFlash card out
of a digicam when it's on or maybe in the middle of writing a big
file. Just like when you open a film camera's back, this kind of
behavior can cause images to be lost forever. But since we're dealing
with electrons, not silver halide, there's a good chance you can
restore digital files you thought were toast. My favorite tool for this
job is DataRescue's (www.datarescue.com)
PhotoRescue which can undelete, unerase, and recover images files lost
on corrupted, damaged, or even erased CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory
Stick, XD, MMC, or SD memory cards.
PhotoRescue works with all brands of media and though optimized for JPEG,
TIFF, GIF, and BMP, recovers many file types. It offers a constantly updated
support for CRW, NEF, ORF, MRW (see sidebar below), and some types of
video files. It will work in cases where the media is not visible as a
drive letter or on the desktop. It's available in two versions,
including a Classic version for the power user and the Wizard for the
rest of us, but the 12 recovery algorithms are identical between versions
Mac OS, including OS X, and Windows versions and costs only $29. You can
download a demo that will recover the files and show them to you, but
you can't save them. Try PhotoRescue on your next problem memory
Lotsa Files = Bigger
I never have enough storage space for digital camera files. Even with
two internal 40GB drives in my Power Macintosh G4 (my e-Machines T2200
has a 100GB built-in drive) I run out of space for, at least temporarily,
the shoot I just finished. SimpleTech Inc. (www.simpletech.com)
solved my storage problems with their external 120GB SimpleDrive. It's
a high-speed USB 2.0/FireWire hard drive that costs slightly less than
the 20GB model it replaced, takes up 1/4 less desktop space but delivers
four times the storage.
The SimpleDrive also delivers fast transfer speeds of 480MB/sec for USB
2.0, and 400MB/sec for FireWire, and operates at 7200rpm for fast throughput.
Compatible with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems, it's
plug-and-play, hot swappable, and the compact drive can be placed vertically
(the way I have it) or horizontally. SimpleTech's StorageSync back-up
software for Windows is included with the new drive, but since connected
to my Mac OS computer I'll stick with Dantz's Retrospect (www.dantz.com).
For Windows users, StorageSync provides quick and easy back-up, restoration,
and synchronization. The MSRP for the 120GB SimpleDrive external desktop
storage hard drive is $199.99, and at this price there is no reason not
to have one of these useful drives.
Protect Your Mac From
Attacks Within And Without
SystemWorks 3.0 for Macintosh should be the first software you install
after buying the computer. It's a digital bulletproof vest that
bundles Norton Utilities 8.0, including the indispensable Disk Doctor
that has saved my butt more times than I can count, along with useful
data recovery and optimization tools. The package also includes Norton
AntiVirus 9.0 to protect against viral attacks and Symantec offers regular
downloadable updates to protect against the virus de jour.
There are some other goodies that will have more or less usefulness depending
on your work habits, but Retrospect Express, especially when used in conjunction
with some practical back-up media, such as the SimpleTech SimpleDrive,
is a lifeline in troubled digital waters. All this and, as they say on
TV, a whole lot more is included for a MSRP of $129.95.
Best Photo Conference
If you've never attended the New England Camera Club Council's
conference, start planning for 2004. I just returned from speaking at
this year's event and would like to thank Jim Dionne for inviting
me to participate. To make some snapshots during the weekend, I took along
a Minolta (www.minoltausa.com)
DiMAGE Xt and was astonished by this little camera's performance.
It belies its tiny size and I used it during a model shoot as well as
making some macro flower shots on the UMass campus at Amherst. At this
year's event, I got a chance to meet lots of Shutterbug readers
and hope to see you there for the 59th annual convention in 2004.
Acronyms Got You Going?
Even though I wrote The Digital Imaging Dictionary (www.allworth.com),
I still stumble across acronyms that puzzle me. If the buzzwords CRW,
NEF, ORF, and MRW seem new to you, here's a quick rundown:
CRW: Canon Raw. The raw image file format used by Canon
NEF: Nikon Electronic File. The raw image file format
used by Nikon digital cameras.
ORF: Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Olympus
Raw File, which is the raw image file format used by Olympus digital cameras.
MRW: Minolta Raw. The raw image file format used by Minolta