Saturday, October 24, 2009


With the first photography show of the season open in New York, this 3rd week of October, many companies took the opportunity to showcase new products. And they have been both generally and specifically prevalent with all kinds of release e-mails added to my new product folder. I can’t say that I paid detailed attention to them all. Even though Mamiya for instance had significant new digital camera models with alluring features. More general and broader new products affecting how digital photography is edited and processed got a much deeper perusal in my reading and some digging to get below the fluff to the real stuff.
After recently releasing Apple OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and my installation of one of the new Mac Mini’s, Apple announced two new iMac models with new, larger LED backlight LCD displays. Many of the shortcomings of some previous iMac model’s displays have been addressed, by improved overall computer performance and capabilities, but I found these new displays are as bright or brighter than previous. However, Apple advertises them for digital photography without any company recourse made available to prevent “prints too dark”, if a color managed print workflow is used.
After recently releasing a new Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for both Windows and Apple Mac platforms, that I have installed but barely acquainted with yet, Adobe just provided public access to beta test a new Adobe LightRoom 3 and you can go to to get more information and download this beta version. With public beta’s, photographers using the new application, more attention is being paid to processing image quality, as well as making the input portion more effective and efficient. But being able to publish finished images easily including to the latest web facilities, but also to arranging easy print output has been added. It may be more widely applicable as a photographer’s application and not just a shooter’s tool when the results of the beta are seen in a production version, in the not too distant future.
Although Epson is best known for printers and scanners, and they have new models recently at the extremes with professional wide format printers and most recently a new 4x6 inch printer for the home users, this week of photo in NYC, Epson chose to make real the earlier news of providing camera tethered operation support for some Canon and Nikon dSLR cameras with their P-6000 and P-7000 Photo Viewers. I know some photographers who use laptops tethered to their cameras, and have observed others, and it is a rather involved and in some ways not very elegant way to function, although it is an answer for digital to replace the shooting of a Polaroid back to check and give snap prints to the art director on the scenes of days gone by. But there are a lot of uses of cameras, sometimes in difficult remote situations, in technical conditions, and many more I can’t imagine, where tethered operation is an advantage. The Epson Photo Viewers as a replacement of a laptop in smaller size, less costly, and much more transportable and easier to set-up and operate, so it should fill many serious needs. Will it catch on, maybe not immediately with those using laptops, but initially with many others who may find tethered shooting with an Epson Photo Viewer is a solution to all kinds of challenges.
But back to the basics, Microsoft’s CEO led the opening Thursday for the release of Windows 7 to the public. You’ve probably heard enough as both Microsoft and Apple have been running ads knocking at each other on TV - hey guys just because it works for loud politicians….. Anyway, there has been more than enough written about Windows 7, now and for months. And what is it, what Vista should have been for the last three years, and not much more. I particularly liked what the New York Time’s David Pogue had to say, and that is rare for me, “Finally, out of fear of antitrust headaches, Microsoft has stripped Windows 7 of some important accessory programs. Believe it or not, software for managing photos, editing videos, reading PDF documents, maintaining a calendar, managing addresses, chatting online or writing e-mail doesn’t come with Windows 7.

What kind of operating system doesn’t come with an e-mail program?

Instead, you’re supposed to download these free apps yourself from a Microsoft Web site. It’s not a huge deal; some companies, including Dell, plan to preinstall them on new computers. But a lot of people will be in for some serious confusion — especially when they discover that the Windows 7 installer has deleted their existing Vista copies of Windows Mail, Movie Maker, Calendar, Contacts and Photo Gallery. (Mercifully, it preserves your data.)”

All I can say in conclusion to this week of mostly quiet steps into a fearful future, is who is most likely to benefit, the users or the companies trying to survive in a marketplace that has shrunk very obviously. The digital photography users, not much advantage, particularly those still affected by “too dark prints” none of the companies have even acknowledged is a problem, to not just photographers, who want to make excellent color and density matched prints, but surely a deficit to ink, paper and printer sales. Oh! Well for some there is another week ahead?

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have been following the various commentaries about Windows 7 for almost a year. There were lots of user annoyance complaints that have gotten nearly all of the attention and to an extent seem to have been resolved. Most technical experts reporting on Windows 7 have been positive based on testing both beta’s and the early release version more recently. Most were positive as far as they went, but that was superficial. When you get into particular features then there is much less review feedback, or almost none. And so far the performance that effects serious digital photography editing and processing is not apparently an issue of any concern. In fact I was surprised some of the key color management experts have not given Windows 7 that much attention.
You may ask why I have not tested Windows 7 myself to see if the problems Vista caused have been fixed. The answer is simple, I use Apple Mac computers and run Windows as a virtual operating system, which precludes the very issues that have been a problem, in fact I can run Vista without difficulty, but choose not to for all the other reasons so many find it undesirable.

The main reason when I did test and review Vista I could not recommend it was an effect the Vista User Account Control warning pop-up window interfered with the video reverting it to monitor color space by inactivating calibration adjustment setting made during boot-up. This was discovered and posted by Chromix:
A more serious problem, and this one is a show-stopper in my eyes, is the authorization bug. As you use Vista, you are occasionally interrupted by the OS as it confirms you have the admin-level privileges required or confirms certain actions. As a user-interface effect, Vista dims the screen slightly while offering the user a password dialog. Unfortunately, this dimming of the display clobbers the calibration curves in the graphics card and they are not replaced. So you startup Vista, your 3rd party utility loads your display calibration correctly but then 5 minutes into your session Vista requests some authentication and your calibration is gone... so you restart Vista, reloading the calibration and start out again.... It will be difficult to have confidence in a system's state of calibration.

Many users do not realize that display calibration and profiling has two results: the display is tested for consistency with ICC color standards and to set it to run consistent with that color adjusts by the video card for proper configuration with the calibration setting, what some call an “LUT Loader”, a file that is an executable placed in the Start-Up folder. The actual display profile, has not been affected by the UAC pop-up screen implementation, describes the display color characteristics after calibration, and is only a reference used when color images are used for other actions like output printing and by the launching of a color managed application like Photoshop. There was no apparent change after a UAC pop-up window that put the display back to pre-boot pre-calibrated operation, but the affect on color managed operation would be severely inaccurate.

With the new Windows 7 the User Account Control can be adjusted or even turned off, which was not offered by Vista.

The reaction by Windows technical commentators has been almost entirely negative because a less alert UAC level would make the system vulnerable to security problems. One well known in particular, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes titled his criticism as, ” Time to ditch Windows for online banking and shopping “. Quoting Brian Krebs “ businesses not to carry out online banking on Windows-based machines and to use a Linux-based LiveCD.” According to Kingsley-Hughes, “the risk of using Windows outweighs the convenience.”
But if a user wants assurance a UAC pop-up will not invalidate display calibration and default color management, one would want to set UAC to “NEVER”, at least for any serious digital photography editing and processing. So Microsoft has responded to the user problems with Vista’s always on User Account Control by providing a user adjustment from maximum to never, but at apparently some security risk to the system from external threats (viruses and other infections). Sadly there was no Microsoft or tester information whether the pop-up UAC alert window still invalidates display calibration.
In addition I could not find that any of the credible testers and commentators have taken any interest in Windows 7 color management. According to the Microsoft web site on the subject Windows 7 continues at least a mix of what was only partially offered in Vista’s running, which the 3rd party color management industry has not supported with software or hardware implementation I have seen to this date. A couple of Microsoft web site users had reported problems with display profile handling, but there were no official MS responses to these complaints. Whether serious digital photography and color functioning will be a part of Windows 7 apparently will remain a question until after the operating system gets in users hands this week, and the results come to be published. I hope no news is good news for the many users out there either still clinging to Microsoft XP or suffering with Vista. But if you are averse to risk, wait and see before upgrading to Windows 7. In general it is better but the Windows 7 affect on digital photography and color management is still to be realized and known.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In 1769 about 60 Spanish settlers gathered together in what was to become in 2009 a multi citied conglomerate from the Pacific to the desert, north and south almost 200 miles now generally called Los Angeles, California. As more and more people arrived it grew from a village to hundreds of towns and cities without any plan or particular design, as many have said it grew like Topsy. Good, bad, indifferent, it is a place so many came to and more stayed, but why? I lived and worked in Los Angeles a good part of my life, and left out of a need to preserve my sanity and humanity. Most I have met who have had a similar experience I think would find it difficult to explain Los Angeles, and few would want to return willingly.

Get in a car in Los Angeles and travel east to Boyle Heights, Pasadena, Arcadia, and south to San Pedro and Long Beach, west to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, north to Studio City and Tarzana - there is no telling what town you are in, lost cities for lost souls.

The Topsy turvy city of southern California just grew however and wherever it was convenient and profitable. The digital world of modern culture began to show up with personal computers in the mid 80’s, some 25 year ago, just a generation out of the quarter century it took Los Angeles to evolve. But think of it, the digital world has encompassed every country and culture on earth in that short time with no more plan, regulation or direction than Los Angeles, it just grew and expanded like Topsy and everyone believes it an expression of freedom, it’s real democracy at work, or rather a Topsy turvy world of lawless anarchism that has brought us the worst of human detritus: spam, viruses, phishes and really fluky caricatures of the species that prey on the unsuspecting and innocent.

When half the population is looking in their rearview mirror for those good old days that never happened and the other half betwixt and between FaceBook and Twiitter, twiddling an iPhone or Blackberry hoping for inspiration they aren’t all on a road to nowhere, where are we? There is no plan, no roadmap for Topsy to continue to grow into anything we can proudly call our American culture, its all the gushing gruel of the grotesque celebrity world trying to dance their way to a new kind of glory - hey kids they rolled up the golden road of Oz and sold off the ruby slippers at auction years ago.

In the meantime those of us who follow the direction of a lens focused on something interesting are missing the boat. No one is demanding that the toys they are sold really work as they should. They are just thrown together in pretty plastic wrap in hopes you’re too stupid to know what you are buying because it has all kinds of meaningless large number specs attached. So if no one else has a plan, choose one for yourself and demand if some sleaze is eyeing your pocket book he is going to have to offer more than pizzazz to get at your credit card if you are fortunate enough to still have one that isn’t frozen. The mindless wonders that have grown Topsy so far can also put the pieces together to do what you need done. But it is up to everyone to learn what it is they want to do and the tools needed to get it done, and then you have to demand it be offered and delivered to get it made and in your hands,

Oh! I just read a pundits view of the new Microsoft Windows 7 - his advise: its time to ditch Windows, and that comes from a ZDnet PC wonk.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Sunday, October 4, 2009


That the one piece of equipment I dream of is an ideal LCD display should not be a surprise. It is what I have been most concerned with of late. And it is also what I look at most to see my photographic images.

However what I dream of is not some exotic, superior new level of device performance at all, but one that is inexpensive and is based on already existing technologies that could be put into a very affordable LCD display. In other words I am dreaming about something that would work well for anyone using a computer to do digital photography editing and processing.

Why such a display is not on the market presently is in part because customers have not demanded it, mostly because they are not that aware of what they need, nor are they aware of what the contemporary industry could produce. Another reason is that the graphics computing aspect of the technology industry is a mix of unrelated items, much of which is controlled by sometimes different, alien and contrary items. LCD displays are not made by companies that make computers. They are made by companies whose largest market is the home television and similar kinds of display devices that have no dependence on computers to function. So LCD displays for computers are just slightly modified TV displays, and what works best for computer users is very likely unknown to the scientists and engineers who create the LCD displays.

So, exactly what do I have in mind? It would be an LCD display like many now seen in stores that sell computers. It wold be the largest size that sells at competitive, affordable prices with a 22 inch diagonal in HD format with a 1920 by 1050 resolution. It would be different in some very important senses, first that the maximum white luminance brightness would be half of the usual 250-300 CD/M2 that is currently popular. This would be accomplished by reducing the brightness of the backlight. The backlight source would be white LED lamps, because they are efficient, uses less energy and remain consistent for a longer period of time. The color gamut would be slightly greater than 90% of the size of the Adobe RGB (1998) color profile, a feature that is not uncommon today and has been offered in a lower-cost affordable brand of LCD displays recently.

What would be most different is that there would only be one control with two settings, a bright setting that would provide a white luminance of 120.0 to 140.0 CD/m2 and would be intended for normal office/home computing use. The second setting would be a lower brightness with a white luminance of 90.0 CD/m2 for digital photography image editing and processing. At this setting the standard parameters for computer video would be applied of color temperature of 6500K and a gamma of 2.2. But in addition the display would be factory calibrated and profiled to achieve a neutral gray, and both the calibration file and profile would be fed to the computer through the DDC channel of the DVI interface connection.

In other words this LCD display would do well both for most home/office computing and by simply click of a switch to the “photo” setting would provide a consistent, reliable adjusted, calibrated and profiled parameter for color managed digital photography editing and processing.

I believe with an LED backlight lowered to half of the present LCD display level using the LED source the “photo” setting calibration and profile would remain sufficiently stable and within a range that would be effective for all serious digital photography needs for an extended use period. The display would be “self” adjusted, calibrated and profiled to be effective in a color managed image computing environment without requiring any user adjustment, sensor testing and profiling, or any additional expense.

I would particularly like to see Apple Computer make such an auto profiled LCD display available for both Apple computers and PC Windows computers as well, it could be another Apple sales success. But more important, combined with the Apple Mac Mini it would be an ideal digital photography computer setup many users could both afford and enjoy the best digital photography editing and processing experience.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at: