most valuable part of a portable darkroom is the viewing screen.
It needs to unambiguously show you the output from your camera.
That means a long scale, high dynamic range display with millions
of colors. This image on your computer screen will show you gross
color and gray scale shading:
gray scale should look like each step is the same amount different
from its neighbor. That larger black chip on the right, for instance,
should NOT look like a big jump darker from the dark gray chip
next to it. Same with the larger white box on the extreme left.
If you can't see all 11 rectangles as easily-detected, progressively
different tones, you won't be able to see the full effect of
digital photography until you adjust your computer, monitor or
are revealing, too. Each is 30° farther around the color
wheel than the ones to either side of it. The red/mid/magenta
ones are the hardest to see as different, perhaps. That middle
color between red on the left and magenta, two steps in from
the left, should show easily as being different from red and
magenta. What should we call it? Regenta? Med? Another area that
may appear closer to similar shows on either side of the green
chip which is fourth from the right.
Note: the chart here is
larger than it displays on your monitor. If you download it and
bring it up on your screen, you will see a bigger graphic. Or
open it in another window (IE and Netscape let you do this) for
the big view. Better yet, download the image and print it out.
It will speak volumes about how well your whole printing system
handles evenly spaced colors.
one will show you subtle gray scale shades with 30 levels
of differentiation. It should look like 30 steps on your screen,
each within a pixel or two of the same width. If your display
can't see the discrete steps, then it may not be able
to serve the digital darkroom role.
that it looks pleated on top and completely smooth on the bottom,
your next question should be, "Can I read each level from
pure white on the left to pure black on the right?" Can
your display show you the next to white and next to black zones
are compounded by the practice of making computers center around
a gamma adjustment. Alpha, beta, gamma... the Greek ABCs. Gamma
is "C" or the third point in a gray scale--the MID
point. Macs and PCs are set to different gamma points, generally
1.8 for Macs and around 2.2 for PCs.
your digital images will print from each and look the same, but
the screen image will be darker on a Mac than on a PC. That's
not the way it IS, just the way it is displayed.
think they would sort this all out before they sold us the computers...
Anyhow, the Nikon camera image is best suited to a gamma display
of about 2.0. At least on my calibrated monitors, but it's up
to you to tweak your own viewing to taste.
print an image without any correction, then compare it to your
monitor set at different gamma points and verify this for your
own eyes. Your eyes may vary.
gamma data? Check this out. Then go here.
you are ready to compare how your monitor looks next to a printed
page on this site
will help you make some adjustments.
you know what gamma point you are seeing? You go here and use the chart at
the bottom of the page. Get back from your monitor and see which
gray patch seems to match the stripe pattern the best. It could
you own a Nikon 880, 950, 990 or 995, you may own the editing
program equivalent, Photoshop. It comes with a gamma adjustment
program and here are the instructions
If your laptop
can't keep up with these images and you haven't had it for 30
days, you might consider upgrading while your money-back guarantee
is still in force.
Digital Darkrooms need
real estate. Not plots of land; viewing surface.
the better. Apple's Cinema Display at 1600 x 1024 isn't "too"
big. Panoram Technologies' three panel PV 230 (click
for a link) isn't "too" big. True, it wraps around
your head and gives you a view nearly four feet wide, but if
you are already rich and thin, you still can't have too much
monitor or RAM.
these large-screen examples are costly and none too portable,
but they do have the size thing.
Digital Darkrooms are likely to be limited to the laptop computer
they're attached to, so your most common size of viewing real
estate will probably be XGA, 1024 x 768 pixels. Two from Dell's
Inspiron series have 1400 x 1050
and 1600 x 1200 pixel images. Wow!
So does portability.
would have you believe that their portables are the fastest for
the money or simply "fast enough" for your needs. You
will ultimately have to judge that for yourself. How much speed
do you need on vacation where the clock is ticking slower than
at your office? Of course, when the vacation is over, your portable
will probably become the central tool of your computer activity
in many ways, so the choice of laptop becomes a major decision,
no matter how you slice it.
I had been
very favorably impressed with the speedy, lightweight Sony Vaio
computers until the president of a company I helped start told
me that ALL the Sony Vaios in the place had failed in major ways
over the last year. They had many of them and take them literally
all over the world. Only one didn't fail. The one in the hands
of the gentleman who rarely uses it outside his office. Dang.
And they are so cute, too. Perhaps the 2001 models are more rugged.
Small, light, extremely fast, tough.
(note the update at
the end of this article)
developments have revealed some genuine hope for the computer-intense
users and this time it showed up on the Mac side of the equation.
The latest Titanium G4 from Apple is the portable equivalent
of a 1.37 Gigahertz Pentium (the 500 MHz model is some 137% of
the speed of a 850 MHz Pentium and the 667 MHz model is 25% faster).
But everybody is catching up to everybody else, so these numbers
change almost daily.
today's --fall, 2002--TiBo has nearly twice the speed of the
one that prompted this review. The 800MHz Titanium PowerBook
with its 1280 pixel wide screen has joined the product line.)
G4 has on-board AltiVec optimization of certain Photoshop code
that speeds it up to about double on select operations, giving
it equivalent performance compared to the Pentium machines of
2.25 GHz+ on things like Gaussian Blur and scale changes.
all that it still runs "relatively" cool because the
CPU draws so little power even though it's little heart is pumping
out the digits like time was standing still. Still, it can get
warm on the bottom and cause the tiny internal fan to kick on
if it's sitting on a desktop without air circulating under it.
(In comparing the raw
speed of the G3 and G4 Motorola/IBM processors found in the Apple
machines, one must not fall into the "I've got a GigaHertz
and you have only 500 Megahertz" fallacy. These processors,
cycle for cycle, do more per processor cycle than the speed of
Pentium numbers. Depending on the operation, it's from 1.1x to
a more common about 1.85x.)
technology on the CPU cuts through Photoshop (or any other AltiVec-optimized
code) like a chainsaw on steroids. (However, actually putting
steroids into your chainsaw tank is not recommended.)
doesn't hurt that it
- is literally
made out of Titanium,
- is one
- has an
on-board CF/PCMCIA slot,
- has a
2:3 aspect ratio screen 1152 x 768 pixels big (now 1280 x 854)
and 15.2 inches in diagonal, killer display with 16 million+
- runs on
a 5-hour battery,
- has a
front-loading DVD/CD-ROM or CD-R/RW drive internally,
up to 60 Gigabytes of hard-disk space,
up to 10,000 ft.,
up to a Gigabyte of RAM,
AirPort wireless data Ethernet and Web connection,
info in and out on an infrared IRDA transceiver,
- has USB
and FireWire (IEEE 1394), 10/100Base-T Ethernet, built-in 56k
- and weighs
about 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg).
for the price of everybody's high quality notebook. It starts
portable darkroom du jour:
Apple's new Titanium PowerBook. I have only two words for it:
image by Peter iNova
the picture for details about the new PowerBook. And if you are
curious about titanium, this may answer some questions.
Until the salivation dries up, this XGA-size download may be used as a laptop screen
background on your computer.
Titanium User Report: After slamming images around on one
for several months, I can only say that the hype is mostly deserved.
The refinements to prior PowerBooks is very high, the complaints
and work-arounds are few.
General: The TiBo, TiPowBo, or
simply the Ti cuts a different slice out of what we think a laptop
should be. This one has major improvements in screen, speed and
size in a package that looks like the Mercedes design team carved
it out of a brick of metal. All metal surfaces are Titanium but
don't feel cold to the touch. The bottom gets a little warm on
a desk but in your lap never gets uncomfortable. Two shades of
finish, one a micro satin silver, the other an oxided white satin,
enclose the body with fit and execution carried to a high standard.
About a stop brighter and quite a bit cleaner than the previous
large-size G3 PowerBook screen, the wider aspect is only 128
pixels more image, but that is 12.5% more, and oh, what a difference!
It means that your web browser is wider by enough space to put
the list of bookmarks on screen without compromise, for instance.
Photoshop is now wider by its right-side column of tools, too.
And when using the screen to display DVD, you have several options
to fill it or fit it with video.
all LCD screens, its angle of view causes a bright/dark effect,
but it seems more evenly lit than previous Mac portable screens.
At this rate, in two more generations, the screens will beat
tube type monitors.
Apple refers to the 112.5%-width screen as a "MegaScreen"
with all the marketing hype one can bring to this sort of incremental
improvement, but given the constraints of a 13.5-inch wide notebook,
somewhat wider than the majority of notebooks, the narrow frame
all around the screen makes the proportion of it more Mega than
not. The active surface is over 12.7 inches wide and about 9.5
inches tall. That gives it a native resolution of 91+ pixels
per inch and the contrast and dynamic range of the image feels
about double that of previous LCD images I've seen.
Keyboard. If you touch-type, it's
a dreamboat of feel and speed. Just the right amount of silence,
bite and tactile feedback.
Mac portable boards, it unclips and opens to expose the memory
and components below. Unclipped, it reveals its high-tech novelty
because it is quite flexible, like it was fabricated on a thin
sheet of springy plastic, which it is. Some people have reviewed
this as a "weakness" but they miss the obvious: Once
in place on the computer, it's as solid as any keyboard needs
to be. It's held in place with magnets! Eight magnets and four
clips pull the keyboard into place against the structural frame
beneath. The only time its flexibility ever is witnessed is when
things below are being serviced.
I/O: Two USB and one FireWire
port serve things like external hard drives, mice, etc. Power,
modem, monitor, S-Video and 10 base 100 network ports are included.
To the left side, a single PCMCIA card slot. A track pad of generous
size and single button for mouse-click functions complete the
work surface. All have the same fine satin silver finish of the
surrounding Titanium surfaces.
DVD/CD-ROM drive operates differently from ones you may be used
to. The front of the computer has a 2mm slot into which you slide
the CD. With about 20% of its diameter inserted, the CD engages
the load mechanism and is pulled in the rest of the way. On eject,
the mechanism slides the CD out toward you, perfect for loading
on airplanes where adjacent tray tables may have other functions
at any given moment. After actually using it on airplanes, I
can recommend it over all the previous laptops I've seen in this
environment. A small double gang of soft brushes keep dust out
of the CD slot and clean the CD on each insertion. New machines
can be built with CDR/RW burning ability as an option.
link to a local ethernet network Base Station or other nearby
Airport-equipped computers is available. Through walls in my
office its purported range of "up to 150 feet" is cut
to a third of that, but it is very handy to not have to be physically
connected to the wall for Internet, E-mail and printer access.
Overall, its reach to the base station and back is reported to
be somewhat less than PowerBooks with all-plastic bodies.
office we have several TiBo's working, and two Airport hubs cover
the whole place. Setup is as close to a breeze as you can get.
At every corner of the place (an L-shaped 8000+ sq. ft.) the
computer wakes up on the office network and Internet, and can
access all the wired computers, servers and printers in the shop.
Major thumbs and toes up for that!
of the computer hides a 12.7mm high (meaning its thickness) multi-gigabyte
hard drive with options of 20, 30 and 48 gigs available. The
drive is much quieter than in previous PowerBooks probably due
to its physical placement behind solid metal. In October, 2001,
they started shipping with a CDR/RW burner behind the thin-slot.
Or, you can get it with a read-only DVD/CD-ROM player. I think
the recording capability is more useful than playing DVDs, but
that's just me.
Audio: Well, it IS stereo,
but the on-board audio is on the same par as that of most laptops--low
fi. Fortunately there is an earphone jack at the back of the
left side of the body which pumps your headphones into full CD
quality audio. The enclosed MP3 player/organizer, iTunes II,
has a trick that is head and shoulders above other MP3 sources--the
abstract visual generator that triggers off the music. You'll
have to see that one for yourself.
Performance: If speed kills, then
this is a maimer. You probably wouldn't notice the speed increase
in many kinds of operation since typing and the Internet don't
speed up appreciably. But set Photoshop 6 to a difficult task
and it devours the job in a gulp. iNovaFX filters aren't particularly
slow, but now they seem more like click functions. (tests done
with a 500 MHz machine)
The entire sequence of events for an iBC24@W.990 debarrel filter
that used to take 10 seconds on Photoshop 6.0 in a PowerBook
G3 running at 400 MHz now takes around 4.5 seconds in Photoshop
6.0. in the TiPowBo using the same image.
In another test, the
new 35mm iFilmBorder filter builds the entire complex effect
in just 12 seconds on the Ti versus 31 seconds on the older G3
PowerBook, both running Photoshop 6.0. The older laptop took
42 seconds and the newer Ti just 16 seconds using Photoshop 5.5.
This border effect uses a different mix of AltiVec enhancements
than the iBC filter.
as telling is the speed with which the entire program loads into
the Ti. PS 5.5 is up under 7 seconds! On the previous PowerBook
it took over 15. When a program is up and running in under ten
seconds, it feels less like a wait . Better yet, Photoshop 5.5
now shuts down in about two seconds but took sometimes 20 seconds
to close down on the previous G3 PowerBook. In all, the speed
increases are very much appreciated.
Mac Energy Saver control set to reduce the clock rate of the
G4 processor, the 500 MHz computer seems to slow down to about
80% of maximum speed. No feeling of sloth there.
say 5 hours. They mean with screen at the dimmest setting, AirPort
card turned off, processor cycled down and no disk activity to
speak of. Optimum power-savings so the claim would have a basis
in fact. At the dimmest setting, the image works in a very dark
environment, but that's good for typing and organizing only,
since it isn't bright enough for image work.
you don't need the speed for simple writing so you conceivably
could fly across the country using the computer on a single charge.
Best advice: get a second battery.
tight Ti body plan is more formal and cooler looking than the
curved plastic bodied G3s of the last three iterations. It's
lighter and thinner by far, giving the screen portion an impossible
6mm thickness. The main body of the computer is only 3/4-inch
thick. People go nuts over it the instant they see it.
minor gripe I had so far has to do with the click pad below the
track pad. It isn't as convenient to the side of my thumb as
the previous body plan's curved contours produced. Some things
just take a bit of getting used to. I doubt this affects many
people at all and after getting used to it for two months the
issue has faded from my horizon.
I give it
an A. It's a slab of super-computer, no doubt. More power per
cubic inch than previous laptops. With better audio, less angle-dependent
screen and lower price it would get an A++.
OSX, Apple's newest and coolest
operating system that is fully born (October, 2002). At its heart,
OSX is Unix overlaid with an amazingly dynamic and intuitive
graphic user interface. That's what most people will see and
work within. OSX is extremely fast acting and is built to understand
digital images better than anything from the windows camp. Don't
believe me? Go visit an Apple store and bend the ear of a knowledgable
salesman. Unix is fabulously better as a starting place for a
flexible OS, and OSX is blowing former windows folk away by the
who wish to operate at the command-line level, it has many times
the power of any other operating system alive today. Linux included.
The reason being that programmers all over the world have been
inventing and refining things for Unix for decades (of course
Linux inherits this idea quite well) and even includes the potential
of being ported to the PC platforms now running Windows variations.
But wait! It gets better!
a somewhat slimmed down version of the Titanium PowerBook without
the G4 processor or the Titanium. In October, 2001, they bumped
its speed to 600 MHz and added a bigger screen.
they introduced a slightly larger, faster model with a 14.1 inch
screen! And the speeds keep climbing. Will it never end?
88.9% of the Titanium's screen pixels at about half the cost,
it may find its way into the travel bags of many a world traveler.
just be plenty enough power for your dimroom activities in Marakesh.
a third of an inch thicker, but the FireWire, USB, Ethernet and
modem don't cost extra. And it runs the new OSX! There's your
visual treat. (And your Unix command-line experience all rolled
into one. Yes, the new Macintosh operating system is Unix at
the core and fully capable of all those things one could stuff
into the big supercomputers that also use it.)
iBook. But you can call it the iceBook. Because it's made of
- 4.9 pounds.
- G3 at
- 1024 x
768 pixel screen.
- Up to
40 gigabyte internal hard drive.
Extreme fast graphics system.
out in S-Video or composite in both PAL and NTSC.
wireless ethernet connection option.
- USB and
FireWire plug and play direct connect.
- CD, DVD
or CDR drive internally (cut your own CD's in Kenya).
not have the partridge in the pear tree, but it gets major whistles
when you see the price: $999 on up. (Set aside another $40 for
a CompactFlash Card reader.)
iBook? You bet. With a bigger 14.1-inch screen and a 800 MHz
G3 processor. Yikes! Will it never end? I hope not. Check the
Apple pages for details.
More: Summer of 2002
has bumped clock speeds up over 800 megahertz (equivalent in
raw horses to roughly a 1.5 gigahertz Pentium cpu). And they've
boosted screen resolution up to 1280 pixels by 854 without increasing
2002, the G4 Titaniums did two things at once. Accelerated the
portable up to 1 GHz and made it run cooler than the 500
MHz model. How do I know? I'm typing this on one even as we speak.
have gone into hemispheres of computer with flat screens of imagery,
and the iBooks have two sizes, 12.1 and 14.1 inch, for easy fitting
into your backpack