COBA August 2003 Meeting

The August 2003 meeting of the Camera Owners of the Bay Area was held today at the Orange Room at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The three presentations covered the Hasselblad H1 Medium Format camera with the Kodak Pro Digital Back 645H and software for processing and organzing one’s digital photo collection. The speakers this evening included Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo, Roger Meike of Pixlabs, and Alex King.

Uwe got the evening started with his review of the H1+645H combo. He stressed the importance of having a bright viewfinder and the flexibility that a square image format brings to the table. Image quality between the Canon EOS-1Ds and the H1+645H were comparable, but the cropping ability of the latter stood out as a definite plus. Uwe also pointed out that this was one of the few MF Digital Cameras that could function completely untethered from a wall power source or a computer, a boon for people who work away from a studio. He brought to the meeting several prints from the H1+645H, and they were indeed quite impressive. For the price you’d pay for that camera, it had better be impressive!

Roger came on next with a demo of his company’s product, digital photo utilities. He’s incorporated a lot of powerful batch processing utilities in his application. I could certainly use some of them on my Mac, but dpu currently does not run on my operating system. The program was able to resize, caption, frame and create web pages of images a lot faster than what I’ve seen before from competing products. If you’re running Windows, make sure you check it out!

I’ve been following the progress of Alex’s photos application for quite some time. Although I haven’t installed it on my system, I can definitely see a time when I will want to use it. Over the past 5 years of owning digital cameras, I’ve amassed quite the collection of digital images — over 40,000 images. I would love to have a program that could categorize and organize all of my photos. The product that I used today, iView Media Pro, doesn’t scale well with large catalogs of images (plus there’s a 32,000 image limit per catalog). I like the fact that photos is entirely web-based, using PHP and MySQL (just like Soybo), which means I can run it on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux computers. The thing that would take up the most time is obviously tagging and annotating my images. 40,000+ images will take a very long time!

I was going to present various Mac OS X utilities to the group, but I had forgotten my monitor cable for my PowerBook. Fortunately, I had recently purchased an Expo/Disc, which I was able to talk about. The Expo/Disc is a lens filter-sized disc that you place in front of your lens to help you (1) set a custom white balance and (2) get a precise metering of the scene (it serves as an incident, not reflective, light meter). I haven’t used it that much, but initial results are encouraging. It’s always best to get images that look right straight from the camera, instead of doing a lot of post-processing in Photoshop. I’ll continue to put the Expo/Disc through its paces over the coming weeks and months and let y’all know.

Next month’s meeting will cover stitching and panorama techniques by Jim Collum. See you on the 10th of September!

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