Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 2

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Alien Skin.

Alien Skin Software –

Alien Skin Software do filter sets.

Eye Candy 4000

Eye Candy 4000  consists of 23 filters. Some will work on a whole
image, other only on a selection or partly transparent layer.

Corona puts a glow like the Sun’s Corona around a selection in your image. You have lots of control.

Chrome allows you to put a bevel on a selection and chrome it.

Fire does what you would think, it generates flames around a
selection. You have a lot of control here and you can generate some
good effects.

BevelBoss allows you to create bevels.

Marble generates good marble textures but since you have
control over colours you can actually generate any vaguely similar

Weave is really neat. It creates those woven photography looks.
By itself could be a bit cheesy but with addition work this could be
very effective.

Smoke is like Fire but creates smoke rising from a selection.

Xenoflex 1.0

Xenoflex contains 16 plug-ins for purely special effects purposes.

Shards is a potentially very useful filter that breaks an image up in a broken mirror type effect.

Crumple gives a squished up but then straightened out look to you images.

The Television filter adds scan lines, distortion and ghosting to
your image. You can control all these things and is just the filter to
help you incorporate fake TV images in your work.


Splat! is different from other Alien Skin products in that it applied
images stored in container files on your disk to your images. Splat!
already works in Photoshop 7 and Photo-PAINT 10 under Mac OS X. It
works very well.

 Border Stamp places images around the border of an image to form a sort of frame.

Edges places a variety of edge effects, from torn paper to process dots, around the edge of your image.

Frames puts a variety of picture frames around your image.

Patchwork examines your image and places a variety of
mosaics. You can choose from ASCII art, Cross-stitch, Light peg, Mod
and Tiles effects. Resurface gives you a huge variety of surface effects to apply to your images.

Photoshop Plug-ins – Part 1

Adobe’s Photoshop is great but it doesn’t include every option you could want. Plug-ins can meet that need. This time, Andromeda.
In this series of articles we are going to look at a number of plug-ins that work
in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-PAINT, Corel Painter, etc. Note that
all these plug-ins work on Windows and on Mac OS up to 9.2 or Classic.
Most also work on Mac OS X. In the case of plug-in sets, we are
going to show examples of selected filters from each set of what we
considered the most interesting ones.

One problem for plug-in writers is that the software makers, like Corel
and Adobe, keep rolling a lot of functionality into new releases of the
software. This is great for us but frequently means that some filters
have a limited life. If you work with older versions of the main
programs look around for people with older filter sets they are willing
to sell as you can still get good use out of them.

Andromeda –

Andromeda produce a large number of filters designed for photographers
or to simulate photographic effects. Their filters seems to all be
focused on allowing the digital photographer to shoot and then later
apply effects as if they had shot through some photographic filter or
used some photographic technique, like selective focus. These work very
well. As to which ones you will find useful will depend on your
shooting habits.


The interface is pretty simple. You choose from a good
selection of effects and then can finetune each of these to suit

This before and after shows one of many results.

This shots shows a coloured star-burst like effect.


Perspective – As the name suggests this provides a very quick and easy
way to put your images at interesting angles and exaggerated
perspective. Of course you could do this in Photoshop with the free
transform option but not as quickly and easily.

So if you need to do a lot of this sort of manipulation this could be ideal.


As its name implies this filter helps you apply various
filters to the current layer. A wealth of pre-defined textures are
available and these can all be modified.

A techture applied to an image. The plug-in is a good way
to quickly generate texture to apply to all or part of an image.


For images that are too sharp overall the VariFocus
filter allows you to draw the viewer’s attention to just part of the
image by progressively blurring other parts.

VariFocus produces its most realistic effect on images
that contain objects at progressively greater distances from the
camera. However you can use it creatively in many ways.

Simple Lighting Equipment for Digital Photography – Tungsten Lighting

Good photography is often about good lighting and in all the noise about studio flash and advanced lighting the old favourite, tungsten, often gets forgotten.
With all the hype about studio flash and the built-in flash
capabilities of modern digital cameras there is little attention paid
to an old yet faithful technology, tungsten. Yet tungsten has much to
offer. It’s cheap, continuous and very flexible, plus you see exactly
what you get. With the rise of these other forms of lighting the number
of manuafcturers of decent tungsten lighting equipment has dropped. In
this article we will look at a couple of manufacturers, PhotoFlex and
Lowel. In addition to those discussed below there are also a vast
number of simple tungsten lighting reflectors and stands available at a
very cheap price. A couple of these will do great service and cost
little. In fact you can even do amazingly well with a couple of those
portable outdoor halogen lamps they sell at hardware stores.

Tungsten lighting was always a hastle with film because it is so much
redder in colour than daylight. Thus you needed to use filters, either
on the camera lens or over the light, to make the light bluer. Since
digital cameras can readily accomodate a wide range of lighting all the
restrictions are off. You no longer need filters. On some cameras the
auto whte balance will get it right. On others set the white balance
manually to tungsten or by pointing the camera at a pure shite card
illuminated by the lights. In other cases just do this. Setup a shot
under the lighting and place a Kodak Gray Scale available from most
good camera stores in the shot. In Photoshop, Photo-Paint or other
software use this shot to set the white, black and mid gray points to
generate a correction. Save this correction and just apply it to all
the other shots made under this lighting setup.

The PhotoFlex Digital Lighting Kit

Aimed at professionals and advanced amateurs using digital cameras,
PhotoFlex’s Digital Lighting Kit includes a medium sized SilverDome nxt
softbox, a Starlight 3200 tungsten light and a four-section lightstand.
Designed to provide soft even lighting ideal for product and portrait
photography, it remains very portable and readily folded up when not in
use. It works beautifully. This is a seriously nice bit of kit, as all
PhotoFlex products are. Take down and put up time is short. A number of
accessories can be used, including a grid. I found the medium-sized
softbox an ideal size for many purposes, being a good combination of
broad and diffuse with compact and easily handled.

Note that PhotoFlex also make a huge range of other lighting accessories. All are very well made and worth a look.

PhotoFlex’s Digital Lighting Kit offers a useful, compact and portable (when collapsed) diffuse light source.

Right – This shot was taken using simply the PhotoFlex Digital Lighting Kit almost overhead and a curved piece of mat board.


Lowel make a very large range of tungsten, halogen and flourescent
light fixtures and accessories. What stands out with Lowel is their
small yet rugged styling that makes them ideal for location work.

Lowel’s models of interest here include the Pro-light, which is a tiny
4.3″ x 5″ x 6.7″ focusable over a 5:1 range. It can take a range of
globes, both mains and low voltage, up to 250W. The V-light is another
tiny flood light that takes a 500W halogen tube. Both of these lights
must be used with transformers as they are 110V units. The following
ones are all stock items and work off of our 240V mains. The Tota-light
is quite compact and takes up to a 800W tube. The Tota/Omni light
offers a 6:1 focusing range, from a 12 degree spot to a 53 degree flood
and 500W globes. The DP Light goes up to 1000W and focuses over an 8:1
range. The Fren-L 650 System provides a Fresnel lens, focusing over an
8:1 range and taking up to a 650W globe. The Rifa-lite is a soft light
system in three sizes up to 1000W and 32″ x 32″ front size. Lastly the
softlight 2 system takes two 800W tubes in a 28″ x 24″ x 7″ unit that
offers a puchy yet soft light.

RIFAS – The Lowel RIFA provides a good diffuse light source in three different sizes at a great price.

DP on stand – The DP light offers a good strong tungsten light that can work with a range of accessories.

TOTA – The Tota light is a good flexible unit.

OMNI – The Omni is a very compact yet flexible light source with a range of accessories to modify the light.

Kodak Gray Scale – The Kodak Gray Scale is an essential tool for all
photographers. They come in several sizes and is an essential purchase.

Shooting Real Infra-Red With Digital Cameras

All digital cameras can shoot infrared shots with the use of a filter.

Infra-red film has been (and still is) quite widely used both in
scientific photography and in more creative forms of photography, where
both areas make use of the very different tonalities (and colours)
produced. What is not widely known is that most, if not all, digital
cameras are also sensitive to IR and can be used to produce monochrome
IR shots. This was not something I had really thought about until a
combination of things happened. Firstly I saw an ad for a Phase One
digital back containing a shot by New York based photographer Les
Jorgensen done with an IR filter. Secondly, there was a discussion in
the internet news group about shooting IR with
hobbiest level digital cameras. Both got me thinking.

Armed with the knowledge that it was possible, I set out to test it. Of
the three digital cameras I had access to at the time (we are talking
some time back), a Kodak DC210, an Agfa ePhoto 1280 and the then new
Kodak DCS520/Canon EOS 2000, all were IR sensitive. I tested this first
with the Kodak DC210 by shooting the little light emitting diode on the
end of my TV remote control while I had a button pressed. Since remotes
use IR this is a good, easy test. It worked, so I grabbed my Hoya R72
Infrared filter, camera and tripod and headed to the local park. What I
found was that the DC210 produced good results if some overexposure
compensation was dialed in. With the other two cameras mentioned the
autoexposure did not need adjustment.

The results will look shocking. It has a strong magenta shift and is
very flat. But that’s where the beauty of digital comes in, drag the
image into Photoshop or some similar program, change the image to
monochrome or grey scale mode and then do an Autolevel adjustment or
play with the curve to stretch the contrast. Depending on the camera
used, the result is either a grainy looking, arty image or a smooth and
fine grained image suitable for many purposes. Since most consumer
level cameras do not have filter threads just hold the filter over the
lens, including any exposure-metering window if there is one.

Since this first start I have tried it with every digital camera that I
have been testing, and all can produce IR images. With some cameras it
is better to use a strong red filter rather than one that blocks all
visible light but most work with an infrared filter. Note that
professional level cameras often have an IR filter installed in front
of the CCD to obtain better colour. Even with this installed you can
still shoot IR. Removing this filter simply allows you to shoot further
into the IR part of the spectrum, and with shorter exposures.

Shooting IR with a digital camera certainly beats doing it with film.
No loading and unloading the camera in the dark and guessing what your
results are. You can also happily mix IR with normal shots as needed.
Because it is so convenient it is surprising that little if anything
has been written about it. One possible source of confusion may be
that, I remember, when Kodak brought out their first DCS camera it was
available in Mono, colour and IR models, implying that only the IR
model was IR sensitive. Since I have yet to find a digital I couldn’t
shoot IR with, this is obviously a fallacy.

Shooting digital IR is a fun and very easy option to explore. Get out there and do it.

The straight, unmanipulated image shot with a Kodak DC210 camera and a Hoya IR filter. Doesn’t look much does it.

After conversion to monochrome and a contrast stretch the image is much more interesting.

A raw image taken with the Kodak DCS520 professional camera and the
Hoya IR filter. This was shot at an ISO setting of 200, f2.8 and 1/8
second exposure, which is +1 stop overexposed.

After conversion to mono and the application of Autolevels.

The Nikon Coolpix 950 can produce very lovely IR images. This was shot in mono mode and autolevels applied.

This is a straight, unmanipulated shot from the Nikon 950.

After autolevels the contrast range is much better.

The tonal range you can get is great, and it’s a lot easier than using IR film.

Here we have the shot straight from the camera which tends to be a bit flat.

The application of autolevels, as here, or using curves or contrast controls an improve the image significantly.

You don’t have to convert the images to monochrome.  Here we have
removed some of the colour cast so that the bright parts of the clouds
are white.  We then punched up the saturation using the
Image>Adjust>Hue/Saturation command to get an interesting,
false-colour image.

Issues in Digital Camera Design

In this interview we talk to several people with a deep knowledge of digital camera design. While the interview is now two years old, the information in it is still highly relevant.
As professional photography moves from being predominantly film based
to predominantly digital, many of us are struggling to come to terms
with the key issues of digital sensors. For those of us raised on film
densitometry curves and Ansel Adams’ ‘The Negative’ there is a whole
new world out there and many of the parameters we took for granted have
changed radically.

When you move from an emulsion to a silicon chip sensor, whether CCD or
CMOS, things change. Major issues with film, like reciprocity failure,
do not exist with digital.

CCD sensors come in two major design types, Full frame and Interline.
Full frame CCDs attempt to use as much of the chip surface as possible
for the pixels (more correctly called pels, or picture elements).
Interline CCDs don’t use as much area for sensing because they use some
of the surface area to rapidly transport the picture data from the
CCDs. Thus, Interline CCDs are great for speed imaging situations, like
video or high frame rate sports photography, whilst Full frame CCDs
have greater sensitivity. Full frame CCDs, as used in most professional
digitals, offer the largest inherent imaging area as a proportion of
the chip size, thus they have the best sensitivity and lowest noise.
Certain CCD designs use a process technology called ITO, or Indium Tin
Oxide, which adds about a stop and a half of extra light sensitivity,
but around two stops in the blue channel, where CCDs are least
sensitive. ITO is used on the Kodak CCDs in their pro backs. The
general lower sensitivity of silicon sensors in the blue usually
manifests as greater noise in that channel, because the signal (and its
noise), have to be boosted more to maintain colour balance. This is the
reason many digital camera images benefit from having a Gaussian Blur
applied to the Blue channel only.

CMOS sensors, as used in the Canon D60 and the Foveon design, has less
of the chip area devoted to the light sensitive components, hence their
sensitivity is inherently lower. Because of this, CMOS pixels have a
lens built into the chip surface. This lens can cause reduced light
intensity around the edge of the chip with normal lens designs. It
manifests as greater noise around the outer edge of the chip. However,
CMOS offers other major advantages, like lower power consumption, lower
cost and greater ease of integrating other camera functionality onto
the chip.

Digital image sensors, whether CCD or CMOS, are prone to what is called
thermal noise. As the temperature of the chip increases the pixels see
more ‘spurious’ light which shows up as noise. For the technically
inclined, when light hits the sensor it releases electrons, which are
collected in the pixel well. Heat also releases electrons into the
pixel well. Since one electron is the same as another, there is no way
to tell the difference between these ‘thermal’ electrons and ‘light’
ones. This noise is swamped in short exposures with plenty of light. As
I proved for myself in tests, digital cameras can produce more visible
noise the longer they have been switched on, and thus the hotter the
circuitry is. Also the hotter the ambient temperature is the more noise
too. So, if you are shooting longish exposures in the outback in
summer, keep your camera in a cooler between shots. Whilst I don’t
believe any 35mm-based digitals do it, some medium format digital
backs, like the Kodak ones, also capture a dark frame in exposures
longer than 1/4 second. A dark frame is a shot of the same length as
the imaging exposure but with the CCD covered, so that the only ‘light’
it sees is the spurious ‘dark current’ noise. On other cameras you can
naturally do this yourself using a lens cap and Photoshop. Some digital
backs for medium and large format cameras use active cooling to keep
the CCD cool, and thus reduce noise. This adds bulk and significantly
increases power drain, but works excellently. CCD cooling was developed
by the astrophotography guys to remove noise from their very long, i.e.
one hour, exposures. We used to do this with film too, but there to
improve the reciprocity characteristics.

One thing that is starting to become an issue with digital capture is
inherent sharpness. Some of the higher resolution sensors have pixel
sizes around that of the circle of confusion of common lenses. Those of
you who remember your optics (you all do don’t you?) will recall that
the circle of confusion defines the resolving power of the lens. Many
photographers working with cameras at this leading edge, such as David
Meldrum, report that they get much sharper images with certain lenses
than others. This will be an increasing issue as more cameras use such
sensors and as the resolution of sensors continue to rise. Then just as
with the finest resolution films, you will need to be very choosy about
which lenses you use to get the sharpest result.

So maybe film and digital are not so different after all.

To get an additional perspective, we interviewed Kenneth Boydston,
President of MegaVision, and Mike Collette, founder and president of
Better Light, Inc.


Wayne: CCD vs. CMOS – Are there any fundamental issues between these
that make you see one as superior to the other? Why? Now or in terms of
future development potential?

Ken: As an image sensor, nearly everything about CMOS is better than
CCD except one very big thing: Signal-to-noise ratio.  For an
equivalent signal, CMOS has always been noisier, which has limited its
use to lower end applications.    Because of the
numerous advantages of CMOS, silicon designers are motivated to drive
down the noise, and over the last few years have done so.  At the
same time, improvements have been made in CCD, though not as
much.  We are, therefore, seeing CMOS sensors increase their
market share, and begin to appear in increasingly high end
applications.  My guess is that this trend will continue.

Mike: There is no intrinsic advantage to either CCD or CMOS technology
in terms of image quality — equivalent light-sensing elements can be
made with either technology.  It is my understanding that CMOS
sensors are easier to fabricate, because they are made on the same
high-volume fab lines as most other integrated circuits.  CMOS
technology also facilitates the inclusion of additional circuitry on
the sensor silicon, which can reduce overall component count in a
digital camera.  Both of these advantages are important for
lower-cost, more compact digital cameras.  However, there is no
PERFORMANCE advantage for an image sensor fabricated with CMOS vs. an
image sensor fabricated with “CCD” (usually NMOS) technology; in fact,
many “CCD” image sensors produce notably better image quality than CMOS
image sensors, for several reasons.  Also, nearly all CMOS fab
lines have significant limitations on the size of each integrated
circuit that can be produced, which will in turn limit the size and
performance of any CMOS image sensors, too.  For the highest image
quality, “CCD” image sensors will continue to be superior to CMOS image
sensors, especially for larger-format and scanning digital cameras.

Wayne: Sensitivity vs feature size – as resolutions increase, pel size
drops, unless the sensor gets larger. This has an impact on ‘ISO’
sensitivity. Are there any developments pending that are likely to
impact on this?

Ken: If a large pixel and a small pix
el are alike in every other way,
the large pixel will have more signal, because it collects more photons
and has a larger well in which to store the photon generated electrons.
Since both the large pixel and the small pixel have the same amount of
noise (we said they were the same in eve
ry other way), the large pixel
has better signal to noise, and therefore wins the ISO prize. 
This, in general, is the case. But if the small pixel can be made with
lower noise, then the small pixel may win the ISO prize even though is
has less signal, because it is signal-to-noise ratio that controls
ISO.  Because a small hunk of silicon is much cheaper than a big
hunk of silicon, and because a small hunk of silicon means smaller,
cheaper cameras, silicon designers are motivated to drive down the
noise.  Small pixels today are better than big pixels were a few
years ago.  Making lower noise little pixels is similar to making
lower noise big pixels, so it is likely that large pixels will continue
to have better ISO than little pixels, but little pixels will get good
enough for an increasing number of applications.

Mike: Not likely.  Present-day image sensors can achieve a quantum
efficiency (QE) of over 60%, which means that these sensors are already
converting over 60% of the photons that strike them into electrical
signals.  The maximum possible  QE is 100%, which would
represent less than one f-stop of improvement in sensitivity over
today’s sensors.  Shot noise, which is a fundamental component of
the signals from these image sensors, cannot be mitigated or avoided by
any technology — it’s one of the “laws of physics” — only larger,
more light-sensitive pixels can truly improve the sensitivity of a
digital camera.  There is a sensor technology that could
dramatically increase the sensitivity of scanning digital cameras (by
more than three f-stops), but it’s not clear whether there is enough
market interest in these large-format devices to merit the development
cost of such a sensor.

Wayne: How does digital sensor design impact on the optical design of a
camera’s lenses? Are ‘digital’ lenses really any better in practice
than ‘film’ ones when used in a digital camera?

Ken: Of course, sensor size affects the size of the lens, and pixel
size affects the resolution required of the lens. The resolution
limitations of a typical 35 mm lens can be clearly seen as the pixel
size falls from, say, 12 microns to 6 microns. For single shot Bayer
pattern color sensors, the resolution limitation is not all bad, as
some optical resolution limitation is desirable to reduce color
aliasing (Wayne – this is the same effect as incorporating an
anti-aliasing filter, which really just introduces a small degree of


There is another consideration as well.  The surface of a sensor
is not uniformly sensitive to light.  In between pixels, there is
often area that is not sensitive at all.  Within the sensitive
area of the pixel, there are sometime areas that are not as sensitive
as other areas.  While full frame CCD sensors (such as are used in
some high-end backs and cameras) are nearly 100% sensitive and
uniformly so, all CMOS sensors are not and most CCD sensors are
not.  Because of this, a tiny micro-lens is often stuck on top of
each pixel to focus the light falling on the insensitive area
into  the sensitive area, which is usually near the middle of the
pixel. These little micro-lenses work best if the light is coming at
them perpendicular to the focal plane.  So light coming parallel
to the optical axis (telecentric) is best.  This is why wide angle
lenses don’t work so well with many digital cameras.  

Lens designers are therefore designing telecentric lenses.  Since
telecentric lenses require more elements, they use more glass and are
therefore more expensive.  This again motivates sensor designers
to make smaller sensors so that the lenses can be smaller, use less
glass,  and thus be cheaper.

Mike: Some smaller digital image sensors use micro-lenses over each
pixel to direct more of the incoming light into the active area of each
pixel (which, in these cases, is smaller than the spacing between
pixels, so there is some “dead area” around each pixel).  These
sensors may benefit from a telecentric lens design, where the light
rays striking the image sensor are more-or-less parallel to each other
(and therefore perpendicular to the image sensor surface over its
entire area).  Professional digital cameras typically use image
sensors that do not have micro-lenses, and therefore do not require
telecentric optics.  Most commercially-available “digital lenses”
are designed for larger-format cameras (with interchangeable lenses),
and these “digital” lenses may deliver improved performance under
certain test conditions.  However, in most real-world 
applications, there is little or no difference between the so-called
“digital” large-format lenses, and their “non-digital” (film?)
counterparts.  Our large-format scan backs make excellent lens
testing devices, and we have evaluated a number of (large-format)
“digital” and “non-digital” lenses this way.  In our testing to
date, we have obtained the best overall results with a “non-digital”

Wayne: What do you see as the likely developments in camera sensor design over the next 1, 2 and 5 years?

Ken: More of the same: better, faster, cheaper. Smaller pixels getting
better, so more pixels can be crammed onto the same hunk of silicon.
One thing not likely to change soon is the spectral sensitivity of
humans, so I don’t think pixels that image visible light will get a
whole lot smaller than 3 microns (Wayne – most current sensor designs
go down to around 8 or 9 microns, so there is still room to get

Mike: Perhaps Foveon will get their interesting new color technology
working reliably.  Many smaller image sensors are already at the
practical limit of (small) pixel size, so it is unlikely that even
smaller pixels will be developed.  CMOS sensors may cram more
electronics onto the same silicon, but this probably won’t improve the
sensor performance (image quality) significantly, if at all.

Wayne: Will the Foveon development take over the world?

Ken: That depends on how well it works.  My experience with 100%
sampled color images vs. Bayer pattern color images is that it takes
about two Bayer pixels to equal one 100% sampled pixel.  Thus, all
else being equal, silicon hunkage could be halved.  But I don’t
know yet how close all else is to being equal. I imagine there are
significant challenges, not the least of which might be
signal-to-noise.  The property of silicon that Foveon is
exploiting to separate color has been well known for nearly as long as
silicon sensors have been around.  If it was easy to do, it would
have been done before. If they pull it off, it will be a laudable

Mike: That may depend upon your definition of “the world”… 
Foveon currently has no intention of producing a sensor large enough to
be of interest to most professional photographers, so this small but
important segment of “the world” probably won’t be affected. 
Foveon is making a lot of noise about “true color at every pixel”, but
scanning digital cameras have enjoyed this advantage since their
introduction in 1994, delivering better image quality than Foveon could
hope to produce.  Even when Foveon gets their technology working
reliably, there are many aspects of the consumer digital camera
marketplace that do not involve technology, a
nd these “market forces”
may have more influence on Foveon’s eventual success than their patent
portfolio or PR efforts.

Special quote of Ken’s: ‘Of one thing I am pretty certain: An
micro-acre of silicon takes a better picture than an micro-acre of
silver, and the silicon k
eeps getting better.’

We would like to thank Ken Boydston, President of MegaVision, Mike
Collette, President of Better Light, Inc. and Jay Kelbley, Worldwide
Product Manager of Digital Capture for Kodak for providing information
for this article.

Viewfinder Australia Photo Library

Viewfinder Australia offer Australian images in CD collections.
Viewfinder Australia is a dinky-die Aussie group of photographers up in
Queensland. They currently have about eight CD collections available.
Each has 104 images, both as high resolution JPEG and medium resolution
CMYK TIFF. Viewfinder’s images are large – 30MB+ in RGB and are priced
at a level significantly lower than other CD ROMs of royalty free

They have announced the release of their latest collection of
royalty-free Australian Images “AUSTRALIAN FAUNA” on CD ROM. Featuring
the work of leading wildlife photographers, this CD ROM
contains 104 high-resolution images of selected Australian animals and
birds, many of which are now endangered. As with all of Viewfinders CD
ROMs, this is an industry product, aimed squarely at publishers and
graphic designers who want to have “ready to publish” at the highest
level of quality. All pictures are drum scanned on Viewfinder’s own
drum scanners at their Gold Coast studios. Viewfinder’s Greg Crow says
that “although this CD is somewhat specialised in its content, we know
that many designers are always looking for typical Australian pictures
such as those of frogs, birds, koalas and kangaroos  and this CD
contains all of these as well as more obscure and lesser known

Australian Fauna (Vol 4 of “The Australian Collection”) is available
from Viewfinder Australia Photo Library’s website
at a cost of A$380.

New filter system

New filter system from French maker Cokin suits both still and video, film and digital photography
French camera
filter specialist Cokin, has announced the release of the
new Cokin Z-PRO Filter Holder, suitable for both film and digital
cameras, in particular D-SLRs and video/broadcast cameras (including
the new HD format).

It is modular, it can be easily dismantled, and it’s set-up to be able
to accept filters of 1.6mm thickness (which most photographers use),
and 4.0mm thickness, used in the Broadcast segment in dimensions such
as 100x100mm (4″x4″) and 100x150mm (4″x6″).

The Z-PRO Filter Holder will fit a large variety of lenses thanks to a
range of adaptor rings covering the common lens diameters of 49mm up to
96mm. Additional rings designed for Hasselblad® B60/B70 and Rollei® are
also available.

The entire Z-PRO system is ideal for the latest generation of Digital SLR and Video cameras (HDV).

The Z-PRO range of filters is made of organic glass with a very high
optical transmission rating. It includes over 90 different filters
designed to satisfy the needs of professional photographers and
videographers. The range includes Correction/Conversion filters,
Graduated filters, filters for Black & White, Soft filters, Neutral
Density filters, etc.

Totally reversible Holder

To prevent the risk of vignetting (dark edges around the picture), the
Z-PRO series Filter Holder is fully reversible, which means that a
filter can fit in the adaptor ring’s slot and the adaptor ring can be
fit in the first filter slot. Therefore the filter can be positioned
very close to the lens and the edges of the holder are clear of the
field of view.

Eliminates vignetting over 20mm focal lengths

The Z-PRO filter-holder was tested (in the standard 3-slot version) and
created no vignetting on focal lengths down to 20mm (based on 35mm
format). This can be extended further in the wide-angle configurations.


The Z-PRO range also includes a storage wallet for 5 filters, and a
choice of two filter kits including widely-used graduating

Australian pricing:


Pro Grad Kit: Filter holder, wallet, Z121L, Z123L and Z125L filters: RRP $225.00

Pro Grad ND Kit: Filter holder, wallet, Z121L, Z121M, Z121S, Z306  (ND2) (ND4) (ND8): RRP $275.00

For other countries please check your local distributor.

The Z-PRO COKIN System is totally compatible with following brand SYSTEMS:


Cokin Z

Leica Digital-Modul-R Back to ship June 15th

Leica has announced the shipping date for the Digital-Modul-R back
Deliveries of the LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R will start on June 15th 2005.

The digital addition to the Leica R SLR range, developed in cooperation with Denmark’s Imacon A/S and Kodak’s sensor business Kodak ISS has now met the testing and acceptance conditions of Leica Camera AG and is now ready to market. ?The quality of the digital photographs taken with the LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R is even better than they expected, by reports. “Our customers had to wait longer than planned for the unique digital solution from Leica, but are now rewarded with an outstanding product”,? says Mario Thurnherr, Manager of Leica Camera’s Photo Division.

The back is the first and only (so far) digital back that is designed to fit on a 35mm format camera exclusively. Other manufacturers have taken the line that, since the sensor is usually the most expensive part of a digital camera, it is more cost effective to just have two camera bodies if you need to shoot both film and digital. Leica is marching to a different drum.

AgfaPhoto goes insolvent

The insolvency of AgfaPhoto has been announced.
AgfaPhoto has filed in Germany for insolvency. It is unclear at this time how it will affect operations worldwide.

Effective November 2, 2004, Agfa-Gevaert sold its consumer imaging business to a group of investors in a management buy out/in. Since then the consumer imaging business has been operated through a group of companies under the name of AgfaPhoto. The AgfaPhoto group is a private group of companies owned by management, NannO Beteiligungsholding and a small number of financial investors.

This sale followed on a fall of 18% of film in 2004 that tended to suggest ongoing cost problems for Agfa-Gevaert if they held onto this division. The sale has allowed Agfa-Gevaert to concentrate on its profitable operations, in areas like prepress.

Agfa-Gevaert provides AgfaPhoto group companies with distribution, order fulfillment, after sales and other services until the end of 2005.

In addition, at the time of the management buy out/in on November 2, 2004, Agfa-Gevaert granted a secured vendor loan for the full purchase price. Based on Agfa Gevaert’s audited financial statement, the purchase price was set at 112 million Euros, which is still subject to an audit of the closing financials by the purchaser. The vendor loan is fully secured by a lease portfolio held by AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH, the parent company of the AgfaPhoto group. AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH is not implicated in the insolvency filing of AgfaPhoto GmbH. Agfa-Gevaert therefore does not expect the insolvency filing by AgfaPhoto to have a material effect on Agfa-Gevaert.