Gary's Parries 24/09/06

September 24, 2006 | Mark Goldstein | Gary's Parries | Comment | |

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

1. Comparing Apples And Windows
2. When 4 x 6 Is Really 3.98 x 6
3. Camera Bug Not Covered By Warranty

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.


garys_parries_240906_q1.jpgHey Gary,

I have a digital SLR and I now need to be able to edit and manipulate my images from wherever I am; hence I want to buy a laptop. I’m looking for good colour reproduction primarily, plus enough space to deal with Photoshop and RAW images. I’ve heard wider screens recommended for photographers, and the weight of the computer is less important to me. I’d prefer Windows to Mac, and don’t really want to spend much over £1000 if I can avoid it. What do you recommend?


*** ANSWER 1

Lottie, when someone asks me for a digital camera recommendation, I can always put my personal biases aside and ascertain what would be best for that person’s particular needs. Not so when it comes to computers.

When it comes to computers, I can recommend only Apple Macintosh. Certainly there are PCs with similar features, but my recommendation has nothing to do with a feature-by-feature comparison between Macs and PCs. Rather, it has to do with Mac OS X vs. Windows, Apple vs. Microsoft, and Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates.

Depending on your particular circumstances, there may even be reasons why a Mac might NOT be your best choice: (1) you may already be using a desktop PC and own a host of Windows software, (2) your family and friends may all be using Windows PCs, or (3) you may not wish to pay a premium price for a Mac.

Regarding points (1) and (2), the good news is that the new Intel Macs can ALSO run Windows. Where previously buying a Mac meant taking the road less traveled, now you have the option of taking the more frequently traveled road, as well. Regarding point (3) … I’ll get back to that.

So which Mac would I recommend? Most definitely, the 17-inch MacBook Pro. It has all the horsepower and storage you will need for photo processing. It also has a 17” high-resolution, wide-screen monitor for editing and viewing your images. And best of all, it is a Macintosh, so it comes with Mac OS X and a host of highly acclaimed Apple software. Plus, when you need advanced photo editing, the $30 (Mac only) GraphicConverter is an excellent replacement for the much more expensive Photoshop.

Lottie, just so there are no misunderstandings, my recommendation is admittedly biased. I personally own a 17-inch MacBook Pro, and I use it for the very same types of applications you require of your laptop (although I have never used it to run Windows, and I have not yet used GraphicConverter’s RAW features). However, all biases aside, there are laptops in your price range that will suit your needs, just none that I can recommend.

[Note: Regarding point (3), instead of buying a ‘new’ MacBook Pro, you can save $400 off the price by ordering an Apple Certified Refurbished MacBook Pro (complete with one-year warranty) directly from Apple.]

*** QUESTION 2—- WHEN 4 x 6 IS REALLY 3.98 x 6

garys_parries_240906_q2.jpgI just got some images from a friend in Hanford. He is using a Nikon D2Xs, and I noticed that, when I was resizing to e-mail size, the proportions of his images were the same as my Nikon D70, in that the 4 x 6 aspect ratio is a bit off. The 4 inches shows up as 3.98”, or something close. This is frustrating because, in auto-sizing, I have to disengage and manually set the proportions. Is there a reason that Nikon couldn’t tweak this to aid in post-processing?

Maybe the answer is that I should get an Apple system and my problem would be solved!

Semper Fi

*** ANSWER 2

Well, there you go. You’ve answered your own question. :)

Seriously though, the slight deviation from 4” x 6” has nothing to do with your computer, and has everything to do with your camera. For unknown reasons, some manufacturers (such as Nikon) have chosen to make their DSLR aspect ratios NOT exactly 3:2. You can see this with your Nikon D70 by dividing the number of horizontal pixels (3008) by the number of vertical pixels (2000), and you get 1.5040, which is slightly more horizontally elongated than an exact 3:2 aspect ratio (i.e., 1.5000). Similarly, you can also see this with the Nikon D80 by dividing its number of horizontal pixels (3872) by its number of vertical pixels (2592), and you get 1.4938, which is slightly less horizontally elongated than an exact 3:2 aspect ratio.

Unlike Canon, which uses an exact 3:2 aspect ratio for its DSLRs, Nikon DSLRs deviate slightly from that aspect ratio, with some more horizontally elongated than 3:2, and some less horizontally elongated than 3:2. In any case, this slight deviation should not matter in the least when it comes to the post-processing of your images, because you will most likely be taking one of the following three courses of action.

1. You will be cropping your image in post-processing, in which case the image will be recomposed, so any initial deviation from a 3:2 aspect ratio will be lost in the crop, and will have no bearing on the final aspect ratio of the recomposed image (which may not even be 3:2).

2. You will be printing your image borderless, in which case the image will be expanded by the printer to slightly overlap the edges of the 4” x 6” sheet of paper, so any initial deviation from a 3:2 aspect ratio will be lost in the overlap, and will have no bearing on the final aspect ratio of the printed image.

3. You will be printing your image with a border, say 0.10 inches, in which case the image will be scaled down to compensate for the additional pixels of the border, but in order to get a uniform 0.10 inch border on all four sides, you will first need to crop the image to 3008 x 1971 pixels (which is even more deviated from a 3:2 aspect ratio than 3008 x 2000), so any initial deviation from a 3:2 aspect ratio will be lost in the crop, and will have no bearing on the final aspect ratio of the printed image.

So you see, there really is no need for an exact 3:2 aspect ratio.

[Note: FYI, when submitting your photos to Gary’s Parries, it works out better if you can submit full-sized images rather than images resized for emailing. – Ed.]


garys_parries_240906_q3.jpgGary, what is the story with warranty restrictions?

Every time someone reminds me that warranties are assigned to specific geographical areas, my blood boils! It’s almost like saying that some models are made differently than others ... can that be true?

I do know that the Sony DSC-H2, Japanese version, didn’t come with an English menu, but in the case of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 and LX2, I see no difference except the software/instruction booklet and warranty paper language.

Lottsa folks that travel would be refused help if they walked into a Panasonic Service Center with a minor problem? Or, say I visit America for 30 days and my LX2 konks out, I have to wait to get back to Japan to get it repaired? BOO!

This seems like it could be the next petition list. Just ain’t right, if all the cameras are the same!

Semper Fi,
Nick in Japan

*** ANSWER 3

Nick, your last sentence says it all, “… if all the cameras are the same!”

Therein lies the problem. A Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 manufactured for sale in the United States may not be the same as an LX2 manufactured for sale in Japan. Sometimes the differences are obvious, such as the language difference you mentioned for the Sony DSC-H2 menu, or even different camera names for different regions, but sometimes the differences are not so obvious. There may be different part numbers used from one region to the next. There may even be slightly different firmware.

In order to avoid complications and errors, service centers are set up to deal with the cameras of a specific region. But the biggest factor might be that manufacturers have region-specific companies whose pools of money are isolated from one another, which would make it difficult to allocate money from one company for the warranty repair of cameras from another company.

Do they have Overnight Delivery between the US and Japan? :)

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