Gary’s Parries 08/10/06

October 8, 2006 | Mark Goldstein | Gary's Parries | 38 Comments | |

Gary's ParriesThis week’s Gary’s Parries topics are:

1. In Search Of A ‘Versatile’ Non-SLR
2. Image 9877 And Counting
3. My First Ever Mistake

Introducing this week’s Gary’s Parries column. Everything you always wanted to know about digital cameras, but were afraid to ask. No question too difficult, or too easy. As a Senior Principal Software Engineer, and a former Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems, as well as a recording studio owner/operator, inventor, and now, a digital camera enthusiast, GARY has more digital camera knowledge in his entire brain than most people have in their little finger. In the unlikely event that GARY would not know the answer to your question, he will answer it anyway, true to the spirit of the word “Parries”, a fencing term which, in this context, implies “cleverly evasive answers”. So let your imagination run wild. Email all your nagging digital camera questions to: , and then, En Garde!

You may also attach to your email an ORIGINAL PHOTO of your choosing. A preview of the photo will be displayed with your question, and a full-sized version will be just a click away. No personal information will be published with your question unless you specifically include it in the text or attached photo of your email, which may be further edited for grammar, content, or other reasons.


Hi Gary:

I do a lot of media consulting and have a small weekly newspaper client that wants to replace its film cameras with digital cameras. What would you recommend as a versatile, capable, and cost-effective solution in a non-SLR format?


*** ANSWER 1

Rob, to answer this question with any authority, I would need to know a bit more about your client’s intended use of the camera(s).

For example, with regard to the newspaper, do they shoot mostly close-ups, or do they also shoot long-range? Are they shooting action shots, portraits, landscapes, or all of the above? Do they want a camera more for indoor use or for outdoor use? Will the camera be exposed to inclement weather? Do they use an external flash? Do they use a tripod? What size prints do they use? Do they intend to routinely post-process their images, maybe even use RAW, or do they expect acceptable images directly from the camera? Do they want an attention grabbing, SLR-like camera, or a smaller, less conspicuous camera?

Your question specifically mentions ‘cameras’ plural. Does your client want multiple cameras, all of which must be versatile, or will a range of specialized cameras that are collectively versatile do? These are the types of issues that need to be addressed in order to recommend an optimal solution for your client.

If the newspaper is shooting an abundance of close-ups, they will want a lens with a 28mm wide end, maybe even wider. But this narrows down the field quite a bit, so if not needed, so much the better. If they are shooting mostly long-range, they will want a lens with at least 5x zoom, more likely 10 or 12x zoom, and image-stabilization. But unless they also want an SLR-like camera, this too narrows the field considerably.

If the newspaper shoots mostly action shots, they will want a particularly fast camera. This feature usually comes at a high price, so again, if not needed, so much the better. If they shoot landscapes, a 16:9 aspect ratio would be nice. If they shoot portraits, then a good quality ‘prime’ lens might be in order.

If your client needs a weatherproof camera, that feature should be placed at the top of the list. If your client needs to shoot indoors without a flash, then low image noise at high ISOs should be placed at the top of the list. If your client uses an external flash, a hot-shoe should be placed at the top of the list. If your client prints large images, then a high-resolution CCD and a quality lens should be placed at the top of the list. If your client intends to shoot RAW, that feature should be placed at the top of the list.

As you can see, since there are only so many features that can be placed at the top of a list, it would be very useful to know your client’s specific needs. Therefore, if you could resubmit this question with some answers to the questions I raised as to the type of shooting your client will be doing, that would be great.

If your answer is “ALL OF THE ABOVE,” then at least clarify whether your client needs multiple cameras that are ‘individually’ versatile, or multiple cameras that are ‘collectively’ versatile. It might also be helpful to know which film cameras are being replaced.

Rob, looking forward to your next Gary’s Parries email.



Busy week. Purchased 3 used cameras, and it occurred to me that, with the Canon EOS 20D I got yesterday, I really don’t know what kind of image count I can expect from it. This camera was just cleaned and checked by Canon, and while it already has a 9877 image count, it appears to have been well cared for, and from my test pictures this morning, seems to be working well.

I do know that professional cameras used to advertise about 150,000 pictures from their shutters before replacement/calibration was needed. I do not expect that Canon considers the 20D a “Pro” camera, but is there any way to anticipate its life expectancy?

Thank you for your help!

*** ANSWER 2

This may come as a shock, but the Canon EOS 20D’s file numbering system is NOT an indication of how many times the shutter has been actuated. A 20D with a file number of IMG_9877 could just as easily be the camera’s first image as it could its 9877th image. Allow me to explain.

If you take a BRAND NEW 20D right out of the box, put in a previously used Compact Flash card whose last image is labeled IMG_9876, perform the required start-up procedures (with the camera’s file numbering set to Continuous and its color space set to sRGB), and then snap the camera’s FIRST IMAGE, its file number will be IMG_9877.

Similarly, if you take a BRAND NEW 20D right out of the box, put in a BRAND NEW Compact Flash card, perform the required start-up procedures, shoot 10 images so that the file number of the tenth image is IMG_0010, take the new CF card out, insert a previously used CF card whose last image is labeled IMG_9876, and then snap the camera’s ELEVENTH IMAGE, its file number will still be IMG_9877. If you then reinsert the CF card containing your first 10 images, and snap another image, its file number will be IMG_9878. There is actually no way to return to the camera’s original file numbering sequence unless you first reset the camera back to IMG_0001.

Without having your 20D’s complete history, the only way to know for sure how many times its shutter has been actuated is to check the actual number of shutter actuations, as stored in the camera’s internal memory and which, to the best of my knowledge, only Canon itself can access.

Now for something really strange. If you start out using BOTH a brand new 20D camera AND a brand new Compact Flash memory card, and then snap your FIRST IMAGE, the file number could still be IMG_9877. No lie. :)


In your Gary’s Parries column intro, you say that you have more digital camera knowledge in your entire brain than other people have in their little finger. I guess you meant to say in your little finger vs. other people’s entire brain. You have it backwards - I hope.

Dr J

*** ANSWER 3

Dr J, being a doctor, I am sure you can understand that, as an obsessive-compulsive, I do not like to make mistakes; however, I am also sure you can understand that, as a dyslexic, I am highly prone to switch things around. So, in my own defense I would have to say, it was not so much an ‘error’ as it was my dyslexia talking (although that does not explain why our editors did not catch it :)).

But, yes, instead of saying that I have more digital camera knowledge in my entire brain than most people have in their little finger (and really, who that reads this column would ever believe that), I should have reversed it and said that most people have more digital camera knowledge in their little finger than I have in my entire brain (which is much more believable).

I’ll speak to our editors, and hopefully we can get this resolved by next week’s column. Thanks, Dr J, for your input.

[Column photo “The Photographer” by Brenda LaFleur of Brenda LaFleur Photography.]

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#1 RickyN

I use OPANDA's IEXIF reader to view the info on my photos. Heck,it's free so why not? The fifth line from the bottom of the OPANDA reader,tag 00A7,gives the number of shutter acuations on my D70s. I can't say about a Canon but this looks like an easy,and free,way to find out just how many shutter acuations you have on a given camera. I hope this is helpful.

4:14 am - Sunday, October 8, 2006

#2 Gary's Parries

Ricky, to be sure, some EXIF readers can read the number of shutter
actuations from certain camera models; however, there is none that I
know of that can read it from a Canon 20D.

If you'd like to try Opanda on a 20D, here is a link to sample photos at
Steve's Digicams with their EXIF data intact.

Please let us know what you find out.

6:10 am - Sunday, October 8, 2006

#3 RickyN

I'm sorry to report that OPANDA gave no information on the Canon 20D photos. There's a lot of information there,most of which I don't understand,but no shutter actuations.

3:24 am - Monday, October 9, 2006

#4 Gary's Parries

I thought that might be the case, but you never know till you try. Thanks
for reporting back.

4:43 am - Monday, October 9, 2006

#5 nick in japan

Gary, thanks for the very interesting information that really means that if someone , like myself, wants to know how many shutter activations they can expect from, say a Canon 20D, there is no answer?
I'll assume that the count is accurate on the used one I bought, and my original one seems to be counting along just fine, so, back to my original question, can I expect, SOMETHING, as a life expectancy?

2:13 pm - Monday, October 9, 2006

#6 Gary's Parries

Nick, unlike Canon's claim of an expected shutter life of over 100,000
actuations for their 30D, there is no such claim for their 20D. The rule
of thumb for the 20D is, get over it, shoot until it breaks.

Many 20D owners have reported 100,000+ shutter actuations, but no
reports yet of a 20D with a file number of 10,000+. :)

3:55 pm - Monday, October 9, 2006

#7 nick in japan

Thanks Gary! Yep, at 9, 999 it then went to zero!
Got a bit over 400 images on our 3 day, found the V570 to be real handy for those wide shots, LX-2 and FZ-30 came in second, saved the 20D and Bigma for the tigers, few tigers, got some cheetas fighting tho.
Busy tweaking for the next few days, i'll be back..

10:50 pm - Monday, October 9, 2006

#8 Gary's Parries

It sounds like there was a lot to see in 3 days. I hope you had a great
time, and I hope you did not get the CF cards mixed up between your
two 20Ds. :)

Speaking of an FZ30, have you ever tried any of its converter lenses?

1:25 pm - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

#9 nick in japan

Thanks Gary, it's Wednesday morning, got about 100 images done before my eyes gave out last night, gotta go get some cosmos shots this morning and then back to the tweaking project, yes, our annual trip to Yufuin, Mt. Aso and Safari land keeps me busy. I went light this year , Kodak V570, 20D with Bigma, LX-2, and, the FZ-30 ( with old Canon wide adapter, gets me to 28mm, and, almost 300mm, so I just leave it on all the time)
I sent you a picture of the LX-2 piggyback on the FZ-30 with the Canon wide lens attached. I don't have the Panasonic made adapter lenses, may try the tele Canon one I have but it does what the Bigma does, and you know how I like to have 28mm available.
When the FZ-30 came out I ordered the tele adapter and sent it to a friend in Canada, one big hunk of glass, quite a hook-up too! Lottsa lens adapters from other companies will work on this camera.
One more thing, altho picture quality is an issue with the V570, the panoramic, in-camera, stiching mode is just wonderful! Even these old eyes can get it done, hand held. A fun camera that has a real nice , easily toggled EV adjustment, and that nice wide view too. If you see one on sale, I recommend getting it!

10:51 pm - Tuesday, October 10, 2006

#10 Gary's Parries

The fact that you leave the wide converter lens on the FZ30 all the
time tells me the detrimental effects must be minimal. Is that true?

Do you know the part number of the Canon wide converter you are
using? Is it significantly smaller in physical size than the Panasonic
wide converter for the FZ30?

3:17 pm - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

#11 nick in japan

#10 At the widest setting of the lens there is a bit of vignetting with the "Canon
wide-converter 0.7x 55", depending on what focus setting will either increase it, or decrease it.
I have not made any tests on the camera with the adapter attached, I can say that I am very impressed with the camera itself, refreshing to have images to work with that don't need alot of noise work!
I saw a listing of useable lens adapters for the FZ-30 on the internet somewhere.
The adapter I sent to Canada was a tele-adapter, a monster, with mount bracket too, I really don't know what the Panasonic wide adapter looks like in person.
One last thought.. If Panasonic can make clean images with the FZ series, even the small sensored FZ-20 with 2.8 thru the entire zoom range, why cant they do it with the LX series? Manageable, but I spend half my life getting rid of noise with both LX-1 and 2, VERY little time, if at all, with the -20, -30!
Wouldn't be without the LX-2, but it's gonna get real jealous being that I'm using the FZs more and more!!!

10:58 pm - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

#12 Gary's Parries

Nick, the FZ20, FZ30, and FZ50 are no prize winners when it comes
to image noise; however, your point as to why the LXs are worse is
a bit of a puzzle. Maybe it's the FZs better glass?

If you are spending so much time post-processing your JPEGs, then
why don't you switch to RAW. I think you'll spend less time, and still
get better results. And you certainly have the cameras for it.

Have you noticed any less contrast and/or sharpness with the FZ30
wide converter? Any barrel distortion?

4:29 am - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#13 nick in japan

Gary, When shooting in wide mode, with anything, I always either use "Distort" or go to filters>...Lens correction, to try and get some horizontals horizontal, and some verticals vertical. I haven't noticed any abnormalities with this particular adapter.
I cannot explain the lack of noise in both the -20 and -30 compared to the LX-2, but it is significantly less. Overall much cleaner image.
I will send you a few e-mail sized snapshots that I took with the -30, and a panoramic from the V570.
I actually did ONE image in the RAW plug-in before we left, you gotta remember that I'm not too fast and it's all Greek to me, seemed like it took an awful long time to work with the image, and after I got it done, I really didn't know what to do with it! (LOL) I need to do more learning. ( Didn't know what to do with it translates to this...If I take an image to the camera shop and it is bigger than about 7.5mb, the Nittsu processer/printer thay use wont take it.. file is too big), so when I got thru in RAW , I had a 20mb file, nice looking image, BUT, when I am doing 20-40 images a day routinely, I need, 1. A Bigger Computer, and 2. A few more Iomega 120 gig external storage units!
I really appreciate your recommendation, as I really do believe you, just I gotta learn more and, maybe think about a desk-top with lottsa RAM!

9:17 am - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#14 Gary's Parries

Nick, thanks for the FZ30 wide converter feedback.

Regarding your 20MB RAW files, why not first save them at the highest
quality JPEG under 7.5MB, and then you can take them to your camera
shop for printing?

11:43 am - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#15 nick in japan

Conversion to TIFF, and reversion could be a viable alternative, right?

12:55 pm - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#16 Gary's Parries

Conversion to TIFF won't do anything for you. Depending on the type
of "lossless" TIFF conversion you are using, the resulting file could be
as large, if not larger, than the RAW file.

You might as well just convert to JPEG for printing, and if space is the
problem, you can throw the JPEG away (but save the RAW file :)).

2:35 pm - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#17 nick in japan

The only storage medium I use for "special" images is the TIFF available in Photoshop and Dreamsuite.
Question: if fed a JPEG file for conversion to TIFF, it does , in fact ,erect into one monster file. I don't know exactly what happens and suspect that there is interpolation going on... unless there is some kind of un-compressing going on, and I doubt that. Can you, in real basic terms, explain what is going on here?

10:16 pm - Thursday, October 12, 2006

#18 Gary's Parries

You hit the nail right on the head. It's decompressing (or if you prefer,
uncompressing) the compressed JPEG. There is no 'interpolation'. The
JPEG numbers are just decoded and then stored with higher precision.

For example, suppose you had the JPEG file:

which is shorthand for:
5 values of 1.3
12 values of 9.2

The equivalent TIFF might be:

This is a very simplistic example, but I think it illustrates the point.

Hope that helps.

4:34 am - Friday, October 13, 2006

#19 nick in japan

OK! Then the advantage of working with RAW is, in JPEG , once the image is compressed, there will always be arifacts present within the stack-up, even when it becomes decompressed to a TIFF file?
And.. If captured in TIFF, easily opened in Photoshop, un-compressed, BUT, somehow not formatted for RAW manipulation ( Programs developed specifically for the RAW format and not the TIFF format ? )?
Also... I don't know if you got the Album cover image I got from the last visit to the big flea market at Fugenji Shrine last month. That same flea market is NEXT weekend, if that album is there, still, would you like it? as a conversation piece? I'm happy to get it for you, if you like.
Please let me know or give me a call on SKYPE..pkonisdbonus8205

4:53 am - Friday, October 13, 2006

#20 Gary's Parries

I think you've got it. BTW, if you can grasp this next part, you've got
the complete 'picture'. :)

The original RAW file might have been:

Notice: (1) The original RAW file is much larger than the JPEG and
somewhat smaller than the TIFF. (2) It has more precision than the
JPEG, but less precision than the TIFF. (3) it has more information
than the JPEG as well as the TIFF converted from the JPEG, which

That's it for me tonight. I'm exhausted. :)

I may have already received your email, but have not looked at it

5:03 am - Friday, October 13, 2006

#21 nick in japan

Thanks! Becoming clearer, gotta think in non-agnostic ways!

5:11 am - Friday, October 13, 2006

#22 Gary's Parries

Nick, regarding the picture of your FZ30 w/ wide converter attached,
do you have its file number so I can search on it?

8:42 pm - Saturday, October 14, 2006

#23 nick in japan

I had the D70 with me that day, #DSC0292, or maybe it was #DSC0292a ( I add a suffix of "a" if it is resized to e-mail size)
Sending, via Mark, that series of shots of the FZ-30, wide adapter, and LX-2 piggyback, sure hope you get them! Mark won't be getting up for about 6 hours I'm afraid!

10:56 pm - Saturday, October 14, 2006

#24 Gary's Parries

I have 7 D70 photos from you, ranging from DSC_0074 to DSC_0171,
but none showing the LX2 piggyback on the FZ30.

4:31 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#25 nick in japan

I sent them again this morning before we left for the cosmos fields in Kudamatsu, Mark should be rolling out of his rack about now so maybe you will get THESE.
I send lottsa images to you with absolutely no way to know if you ever get them, sorry for the confusion, maybe Mark is storing them up for some reason before he fowards them to you.
I wonder how many other folks have sent you stuff that you have never gotten?

4:45 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#26 Gary's Parries

Nick I can guarantee you that Mark has forwarded every photo you
have ever sent. Are you sure you took them with your D70? One of
your D70 shots looking through your van window shows what looks
like an FZ30 against the back of the driver's seat, but no piggyback
LX1 (which may just be outside the field of view).

5:03 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#27 nick in japan

Gotta back-up and cover all the bases..
1. I have sent you 2 sets of pictures of recent piggyback arrangements, the first was the LX-2 on the F-828, on tripod. Second was FZ-30 with LX-2 on top. A humorous letter attached talked about my having to watch them closely due to the possibility of inbreeding problems with cousins mating!
2. I send my photos to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address),
3. I sent copies of the FZ-30 and LX-2, again this morning.
4. The D70 shots out the PASSENGER window were old ones, that was Bigma/20D leaning against the seat ( The Japanese drive on the wrong side of the road here, steering wheels are on the right)
Maybe I should send pictures to a different address?
Sorry about all this!

8:54 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#28 Gary's Parries

I found them!!! They did not show up in my search because the actual
file numbers begin with an underscore.

I also found some earlier photos taken with your Pentax Optio S6 that
shows your LX1 mounted to something.

So you see, I did get everything.

9:56 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#29 Gary's Parries

Nick, I found your wide converter on line. Is it the Canon WD-55? The
reason I ask is because it is listed everywhere as '0.75x' even though
all the pictures clearly show it with a '0.7x' marking on the barrel.

10:33 am - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#30 nick in japan

I think I had the S6 mounted on my rearview mirror of the van...
Glad you found the pictures, I was begining to think you were playing with me again... naw!
That wide converter is old, real old! I think it must have been updated, at least once, maybe more! I got it in the mid 80s!
The wonder of the screw-in converters is that unlike doublers, they do stuff for you with no measurable loss of "F" stop. That may be a great question for "Parries"... Why? Seems like glass, in front of a lens, or in a 1.4x, 2x or even 3x multiplier, ALL should reduce the light proportionally to their product rating....

12:31 pm - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#31 Gary's Parries

That would be a good question. Maybe one of these days we'll have
a Gary's Parries question about 'add-on' lenses, and you could post
your comment there. :)

1:18 pm - Sunday, October 15, 2006

#32 George

Just to understand differences between TIFF-RAW-JPG:

TIFF (w/o compression)
Every pixel contains all three channel infos (R-G-B) in 8 to 16 bit (or even higher, depends on color depth)

RAW contains only one channel per pixel (except FOVEON) other data just get interpolated so possible size is 1/3rd of the TIFF.

JPG is a sophisticated compression algorithm based on a 24bit TIFF-like data. It combines lossless LZW (ZIP) and lossy algorithm as well, so size really depends on how lossy it actually gets.

So actually the RAW contains all the needed information to reproduce perfectly the sensor data in the least space (except in case of lossy RAW on Nikon D70 :(

Note: TIFF and RAW sometimes contains some kind of compression but usually only RLE (Run Lenght Encoded), which can only compress equal lenght series of numbers (eg.: five 2s as said before)

George from Hungary

2:07 pm - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#33 Gary's Parries

Thank you, George, for this useful info. One thing of which I was NOT
aware was the D70's 'lossy' NEF compression. Considering the debate
about Nikon's proprietary NEF encryption, just one more reason RAW
shooters might want to avoid Nikon.

2:57 pm - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#34 George

However RAW for D70 is still the best way to better looking pictures, as the in-camera JPEG engine is inferior to Nikon Capture's JPEG (I shoot my third wedding with my D70s and only the first was partly JPEG)
This lossy RAW only present in D70 and D70s - but still retains more dynamic range than JPEG - the others contains lossless RAW compression...and this has definitely no relation to the Encryption.

3:12 pm - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#35 Gary's Parries

No argument about the D70's advantages of RAW over JPEG, or that
encryption is an entirely separate issue (but still a disadvantage).

One advantage of the D70's lossy NEF over lossless is that, since the
loss is attributed to (best guess) use of a nonlinear (i.e., faster) ADC,
it does provide faster in-camera RAW processing as a tradeoff.

3:50 pm - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#36 nick in japan

One quick comment about dynamic range of JPEG with the D70, the "Proof is in the Pudding" as far as I can see, ie. my favorite photographer uses the D70, and continually proves this point, yep!

10:38 pm - Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Okay, I'll bite. Who is your favorite photographer?

1:21 am - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

#38 nick in japan

Do you mean, why?
Well, let me tell you, he has street-smarts that are rivaled by no-one, he takes us from the seedy to the seeds, he appears to be as comfortable in the studio, and the country-side, as he is on the street, and, although some may find some of his images offensive, he documents the exceptional withoutout reservation.
The tonal range of his black and whites is amazing, and from time to time he amazes me with some artistic project that is wonderful!
The Nikon D70 needs no advertizing from Nikon, DOYOULIKEIT says it all with his images.

2:49 am - Wednesday, October 18, 2006