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December 17, 2001

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen says that the extremely anticipated OS X-native version of Photoshop will be released in the second quarter of 2002 (attribution: MacCentral). The second calendar quarter, friends, refers to a time between and including 12:00:00 am on April 1, 2002 and 11:59:59 pm on June 30, 2002. And since we’re discussing a software release date, we’d be optimistic to speculate that Adobe’s industry-leading imaging software will be released sometime in June. We’d be undeniably nuts to speculate that the software will see public daylight in April.

I’m awaiting an OS X-native Photoshop before switching to Apple’s new industrial strength OS. Tons of other people in the publishing world are, too.

December 12, 2001

Back in October I bought the new Canon PowerShot G2 digital camera. It features four megapixels (2272 x 1704) of resolution, a lens that can do a good job of preserving light in low-light situations (f/2.0-2.5), an LCD display that swivels 270 degrees, the full range of controls found on many traditional 35mm SLR cameras, and compatibility with IBM’s Microdrives. With a gigabyte Microdrive you can capture well over five hundred four-megapixel images with the lowest level of JPEG compression the camera offers. (Low JPEG compression results in images with fewer artifacts, better color, and better tonal range.) In my opinion, the PowerShot G2 is the best sub-US$1000 digital camera on the market, even considering Nikon’s new CoolPix 5000, a five-megapixel camera. Let me offer you a brief opinion of the G2 from my own experience.

First of all, the G2 captures really good images. The tonal range of the G2’s images is far superior to the range anyone will get from scanning prints on a typical home or office scanner.

Boo's Tattoo
I took this picture of my lovely wife when the Georgia Bulldogs played the Auburn Tigers on November 10. I probably used an aperture of 4.5 to 5.6. Original image from camera (1.7M).

The G2 is also easy to use and at the same time offers a full complement of manual controls. Have a dad who’ll ask when you hand the camera to him, “Which button do I mash?” Switch the G2’s mode dial to Auto, show him the shutter-release, and he’ll likely capture a correctly exposed image.

The G2’s battery life is astonishing. My wife, mother-in-law, and I participated in a tour of homes in which I took over 170 pictures in approximately three hours. I left the G2’s LCD on all of the time and when I returned home the G2 still had enough juice to transfer all of the images—over three hundred megabytes’ worth—to my Mac. The battery will charge to ninety percent of its capacity in eighty minutes, though the remaining ten percent takes two more hours of charging.

Another major feature of the G2 is its support for IBM’s Microdrives. Currently shipping in 340-, 512-, and 1024-megabyte capacities, Microdrives are an efficient way to store images captured by a digital camera. I believe lack of Microdrive support is a major failing of the Olympus and Nikon lines of digital cameras. With a one-gigabyte Microdrive, you can go on vacation and not worry about running out of storage or having to transfer your images to another device to make room for more images. Put the Microdrive in and forget about it.

On the downside, the G2 is too small for me. I have medium-large hands and find the camera awkward to hold compared to the sure-feel grip of my Canon Rebel 2000, which uses a bottom-mounted battery pack that doubles as a grip for vertically oriented shots. Also, because the camera is so small and offers so many controls, I find it difficult to avoid inadvertently pressing some of its buttons. All other reviews of the G2 that I’ve read complain about the G2’s large size. I suppose that if you’re one of those gadget-happy people who wants a high-resolution camera the size of a postage stamp, you’ll be disappointed in the G2’s comparatively large size. I, however, would be more pleased if the camera were four times its present size.

Another downer is the G2’s manual focus, which is cumbersome compared to manually focusing a traditional 35mm SLR camera. To manually focus the G2, you press a button on the left side of the camera and then press the up or down arrow on what Canon refers to as an “omniselector” to adjust focus. That might not sound so difficult, but all you get to check focus is a tiny portion of the LCD and a vertical graph on the right side of the LCD that tells you the focal distance you’re currently using. Unless you somehow know the focal distance before the shot, you can pretty much forget manual focus for quick shots. But if you’re sure your subject is forty feet or more away, you could manually set the G2’s focus to infinity and leave the focus set to that distance. So long as the distance to your subject doesn’t change, you’ll be ready for a quick shot.

Another sore point is the G2’s viewfinder. I don’t use it. I use only the LCD for composing shots. The LCD gives a view of what the camera’s lens sees. The viewfinder shows only eighty-four percent of the actual image, and if the subject is close to the camera, the viewfinder may yield an even more distorted view of what would become the captured image. However, the otherwise-worthless viewfinder could be useful in situations where a very bright light source renders the LCD unreadable.

The last point of complaint I have for the G2 is its lens cap. It’s one of those manual caps that dangles in your way unless you remember to hold it with the camera’s neck strap. And if you power up the camera in image capture mode with the lens cap on, you get a “Lens” message on the G2’s top-mounted LCD. To get out of this situation, you have to power off the camera, take the lens cap off, and power up the camera again. Digital cameras aren’t instantly ready like traditional 35mm film cameras, so trying to fix the lens cap problem can be a pain when you’re in a hurry.

Even considering these complaints, I find the G2 well worth its purchase price and am very glad to have one. Most of all, I appreciate the freedom to take as many pictures as I want without costing myself an arm and a leg in processing costs. I feel free to experiment with different settings and to photograph subjects from as many angles as I can manage. And getting the images onto my Macs to print them or share them with others is a simple and fast task compared to scanning prints with a flatbed scanner. But most of all, the pictures are much, much better than what I could get from scanning 35mm prints. And printing the images with my Epson photo printer on the right media yields better prints than my local photofinisher offers. Canon certainly has a winner in its PowerShot G2. For more information on the Canon PowerShot G2, see these more comprehensive reviews:

November 29, 2001

Epson’s Double-Sided Matte Paper is now available. On the box Epson lists the printers recommended for this new media, but I can say that the new Double-Sided Matte Paper also works extremely well with my four-year-old Epson Stylus Photo EX and a client’s four-year-old Stylus Photo 700. When I say “extremely well,” I’m referring to output that’s better than what Wolf Camera gives you from your 35mm print film. The output on the Double-Sided Matte Paper was about as accurate as with Epson Photo Paper. In fact, one of the blues I printed on the Double-Sided Matte Paper was closer to the on-screen image than with Photo Paper.

When printing on the new media with one of Epson’s older photographic inkjets, use “Photo Paper” as the media type and the “Epson Photo Paper 1440” ColorSync profile. On Epson’s heavier photographic media use a resolution of 180dpi. On the double-sided matte media use 150dpi. My first prints waved up a little once both sides were imaged, but once dry most of the waves disappeared and the media never felt soft from too much ink. At US$16.16 from Epson’s online store for fifty sheets, Epson’s new media is a bargain. (UPS Ground shipping is currently free and my order took just two business days to arrive.)

For the uninitiated, learn your Epson media types. The words Epson chose in naming the media types are similar but the media are very different. There are Photo Paper, Matte Paper Heavyweight, Premium Glossy Photo Paper, Photo Quality Glossy Paper, ColorLife Paper, Double-Sided Matte Paper, Photo Quality Glossy Film, Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper, Photo Quality Glossy Paper, High Quality Ink Jet Paper, 360dpi Ink Jet Paper, Premium Bright White Paper, Archival Matte, Premium Luster Photo Paper, Premium Semi-Gloss Photo Paper, Professional Glossy Paper, Watercolor Paper, and even more. Also learn how to disable the printer driver’s color management so you can use Apple’s own ColorSync to manage your color.

Need a personal consultation for learning how to get better photos from your own photographic inkjet printer than you get from your local photo processing outlet? Hire me.

November 25, 2001

This site could be a bit messy for the next few days or weeks as I redesign the site to be free from frames. Why didn’t I wait until I have the site finished before posting it? Because I’d never get around to it if I thought I could work on it just any old time. If I know the unfinished site is posted, I’ll work on it more often and finish the redesign sooner. Also, I’m redesigning the site to make it easier to update and reorganize when necessary.

Other than a new, leaner design, one of the first things I’m working on is an update of what’s going on in the world of Macintosh.

September 15, 2001

United United
United United
United United

September 1, 2001

On August 17 Canon announced the successor to last year’s best sub-$1000 digital camera. Boasting a four-megapixel resolution the new PowerShot G2 may again be the best sub-$1000 digital camera for the next year. Olympus had previously announced its own four-megapixel camera, the C-4040 Zoom, but according to the comparison photos I’ve seen (noted links below), Canon again has a slight edge in overall image quality. The Olympus has a slightly faster lens, allowing it to capture images in lower levels of light than the Canon. The PowerShot G2 employs Compact Flash (Types I and II) storage media and is compatible with IBM’s Microdrive, a hard disk drive that’s about the same size as a half-US dollar, fits inside the camera body, and stores up to a full gigabyte of data for approximately US$400. The Olympus camera uses SmartMedia, whose top capacity is currently 128M and costs around US$85.

Canon states in a press release that the PowerShot G2 will be available in September. However, State Street Direct estimates the camera’s availability to be October 1. If the PowerShot G2’s introduction is like the introduction of the G1, you shouldn’t expect the camera to be available until the middle of October. The camera’s retail price is US$999, but the street price will hover close to $899.

Nikon’s closest competitor is the recently introduced CoolPix 995, a 3.34-megapixel camera. The CoolPix’s redesigned flash is likely better than the Canon’s onboard flash, but image quality is pretty much equal between the two cameras. In my opinion the CoolPix 995 was enough of an improvement over its predecessor, the 990, to bring it up to par with the PowerShot G1, but the PowerShot G2’s new four-megapixel imager reasserts a clear advantage over the Nikon. See all three cameras.

Digital cameras are being improved about as quickly as personal computers, so it won’t be long before the playing field for sub-US$1000 digital cameras are updated again. Personally, I can’t wait until the digital equivalent of my Canon Rebel 2000 is available for less than US$1500.

For more information on the Canon PowerShot G2, see these comprehensive reviews:

According to various sources, it looks as though it will be 2002 before we get an OS X-native version of Photoshop. Illustrator and Acrobat will be Adobe’s first OS X-native applications, according to the company’s statements. Acrobat Reader 5 is already available and runs natively under OS X and OS 9.

Apple received an Emmy award for engineering from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for development of FireWire, the high-speed serial interface used by digital video cameras and professional scanners, as well as other devices requiring high-speed data transfer.

A friend and client received his dual-800MHz Power Mac G4 and 22" Cinema Display this past Tuesday. This was the first chance I’ve had to take more than a passing look at the new QuickSilver Power Macs and Cinema Display. I’ll write more about the machine after it’s completely configured and we have a chance to get some real work done with it. For now I can say that the Cinema Display is the real jaw dropper. It feels almost like going to another state when making a trip to the Apple menu. We added a gigabyte of memory and a 60G IBM 60GXP internal hard drive to the machine, giving it a total of 1.25G of memory and 140G of storage. This machine replaces a 300MHz G3-upgraded Power Mac 7600 and 17" Apple Multiscan CRT. What an upgrade! (My job is so difficult! MacNN Tongue)

August 15, 2001

Happy third birthday, iMac! Introduced three years ago today, you are the best-selling personal computer of all time, and this includes those yucky, ordinary, government-issue PCs. According to a MacCentral story, you’ve found your way into the hearts and homes of over five million people. Congratulations! iMac

August 12, 2001

It finally came. After nearly five years with the same Mac, the new Mac finally arrived. And after using a new 733MHz Power Mac G4 for over five months now, I’ll fill you in on what I think about it.

I ordered my new Power Mac upon its introduction at Macworld San Francisco on January 9. It was introduced alongside 466MHz, 533MHz, and 667MHz models. All of the Power Macs introduced in January are referred to as “Power Mac G4 (Digital Audio)” by Apple because these were the first machines to feature Apple’s amplified digital audio jack on their rear panels, which isn’t a very big deal, but it gives Apple’s technical support people a name by which they can refer to this particular set of Power Macs. The 533MHz model could be ordered in a dual-processor configuration and actually outperforms the 733MHz model in some dual-processor-optimized tasks. The 733MHz configuration was the only model to feature Apple’s new SuperDrive, an optical drive that reads and writes DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, and CD-RW. This was the very first personal computer that could write a DVD that could be played in almost all consumer DVD players. Though creating video DVDs was the key benefit plugged by Apple, I use the SuperDrive for data archiving only. Provided to Apple by Pioneer, the SuperDrive is the most remarkable feature of the 733MHz “digital audio” Power Mac, aside from Apple’s move to the newer, faster PowerPC processors from Motorola. Motorola kept the Mac faithful stuck at 500MHz for over a year.

I received my new Mac on March 6, almost two months after it was ordered. Because it’s a Mac, setting it up was very easy. I ordered a second video card with the machine so I could employ a second display (see photo below). The machine’s primary display is the new Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2060U, a 22" CRT. The second display is a 19" Sony Multiscan 400PS and is for all of the palettes that accompany the publishing applications I use (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, FreeHand, QuarkXPress). The second display is also a good place to keep a SoundJam or iTunes playlist. Only with Apple’s displays can you power up the CPU from the display, which means that I now have to press the power button on the front of the CPU itself since I don’t use an Apple display. That’s too much like a PC for me.


Less exciting features of my new Mac include two FireWire ports, two USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, ATI’s RADEON graphics card (primary display), ATI’s Rage Pro II graphics card (second display), four open PCI slots, standard 256M of memory, 60G hard drive, internal Iomega 250M Zip drive, internal 56K V.90 modem, and Mac OS 9.1. (I was glad to see that the OEM hard drive was supplied by IBM.) I added a gigabyte of memory and a second 60G internal hard drive (IBM 60GXP) to the machine, so it now has 1.25G of memory and 120G of storage. The memory is really nice because it allows me to allocate over 300M of memory to Photoshop and have a handful of other memory-hungry applications running at the same time. Having to quit one application to open another is one of the biggest efficiency dampers a computer junkie can experience.

Input devices attached to the new machine include my old Datadesk SmartBoard ergonomic keyboard, my old Wacom 6" x 8" graphics tablet, and Microsoft’s IntelliMouse Explorer and Trackball Explorer. The keyboard and graphics tablet use Belkin and Griffin iMate ADB-to-USB adapters, respectively. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought a new USB keyboard and a new graphics tablet. I ended up spending over US$70 on USB adapters to save approximately US$400 by not buying a new graphics tablet and keyboard. And it now looks as though the tablet isn’t going to work with OS X if used with the Griffin iMate adapter, which means that I may still have to spring for a new tablet if I want to use it with OS X. I advise most of my clients to avoid adapters, and this time I didn’t take my own advise. I guess that’s what I get for not doing things right the first time around.

My new Mac’s Internet spigot is fed by a cable modem. My Macs share the cable modem through an Asanté router. The router doubles as a 10/100 switch, allowing my Macs to print to the same networked laser printer without switching any cables. I still make color prints from my old Mac because my color printer, an Epson Stylus Photo EX, doesn’t have a port that will work with the new Mac.

Life with the new Mac has been pretty good. The speed is a lot better than my old Mac (a 300MHz G3-upgraded Power Mac 7500 with 336M of memory running Mac OS 9.1), but the new Mac isn’t exactly a rocket. Tasks that took a long time before simply take less of a long time now. The new Mac takes thirty to forty seconds less time to boot than the old Mac and copies files six to seven times faster, but like the old Mac, the new Mac still bogs down when doing network file transfers. When simultaneously transferring a 700M file to the old Mac and doing other Finder operations, the new Mac feels as though it’s a Power Mac 6100 from 1994.

I noticed that the heat generated by the new Mac is considerably more than the old Mac, though that could be because of the way the new Mac is situated in my desk. The new Mac is tucked out of the way in its own cabinet, which is often closed. When the cabinet is opened, I can feel the heat on my leg closest to the machine. Also, the two large CRTs give off a lot of heat, too, prompting me to have increased air conditioning installed in my office along with a return vent. When the heating and air specialist surveyed my office, he said that each of the three monitors he tested (the old Mac now uses a 15" Sony CRT) was giving off heat between 107 and 119 degrees (F). Add to that the fact that my office has two exterior walls and you know that I was miserably hot until additional air conditioning was installed.

Overall, though, what’s important to me are the fundamental things the new Mac provides—the ability to run Mac OS X, inexpensive memory and storage expansion, FireWire, and USB. And backing up 4.4G of data to one piece of US$10 media is also very nice. The new machine is a welcome addition to my pursuit of digital nirvana and I’m looking forward to the thousands of hours I’ll log on it during the next couple of years.

I say all of this at a time when my new Mac has been eclipsed by newer, faster, more elegantly designed Power Macs. The new Power Macs, referred to by their code name, QuickSilver, are offered in dual-800MHz, 867MHz, and 733MHz varieties, but this time the SuperDrive comes with the middle (867MHz) configuration, which makes it the best bargain in the bunch if you want to write to DVD. The dual-800MHz model is the performance champ, boasting a seventy-six-percent speed advantage over my machine in Final Cut Pro, Apple’s professional digital video editing software. A good friend and client ordered the new dual-800MHz Power Mac along with the 22" Apple Cinema Display (the nicest flat-panel display on Earth), and I’m as anxious as he to get my hands on it. Maybe it won’t be long before I can give you my impressions of Apple’s latest Pentium-toasting publishing powerhouse.

February 25, 2001

Where The Hell Is It?

Here I am looking for FedEx to bring my new Power Mac. A press release issued by Apple last Tuesday claims that the new 733MHz and 667MHz Power Macs are now shipping. And in fact two MacNN readers have reported that they have received their machines. But I haven’t received mine, despite having ordered it as soon as it was introduced, and Apple’s order status page tells me that the machine is still being assembled. I don’t understand. I doubt that The AppleStore could have taken fifty orders for the 733MHz machine when I ordered mine. Maybe it was the way I configured my machine—with a RADEON video card instead of the nVIDIA card, an extra video card for using a second display, and an internal Zip drive—that’s causing my machine to take so long to ship. If you order a new 733MHz Power Mac now, you’ll be quoted a twenty-one-day delivery.