The Digital Journalist
Tech Tips

by Chuck Westfall

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions in October! With no further adieu, here are November's "Tech Tips":

I recently purchased a 1D Mark II N to go with my Mark II. I set my sharpness and contrast on the Mark II at 3 and 1, respectively. I have set my II N on the Standard picture setting without any custom adjustments. I'd like the cameras to be as close to harmonious as possible without too much trial and error. Can you provide any insight?

Also, in one of your columns you provided some rough guidelines for Unsharp Mask (300%, 0.3 pixel radius and 0 pixel threshold for letter-sized prints). Can you elaborate a bit? Do these vary with the size of print?

The answer to the first question largely depends on your personal preferences. If you shoot RAW images, then you can match the output from both cameras by applying the same settings for sharpness, contrast, etc. in your RAW conversion software. DPP 2.0.3, the current version of Canon's Digital Photo Professional software, makes this very easy with its Picture Style settings which can be applied to RAW data from any compatible EOS digital SLR, including the 1D Mark II and the 1D Mark II N.

If you prefer to use a JPEG workflow, i.e., shooting in-camera JPEGs. it's not quite as easy to match image quality between these cameras because the 1D Mark II's sharpening algorithm and range of settings differs slightly from that of the 1D Mark II N. For example, the EOS-1D Mark II has sharpness settings from 0 to 5 with 0 as the standard default, whereas the EOS-1D Mark II N has sharpness settings from 0 to 7 with 3 as the standard default. The contrast and saturation settings are different for both cameras as well, with a range of settings from -2 to +2 or Low to High on the 1D Mark II versus a range of settings from -4 to +4 on the 1D Mark II N. If, as you say, you are happy with a sharpness setting of 3 and a contrast setting of +1 on your 1D Mark II. then as a starting point you might want to try a sharpness setting of 3 or 4 and a contrast setting of +1 or +2 on your 1D Mark II N. I would suggest shooting a set of comparison images with both cameras and tweaking the sharpness and contrast settings on the 1D Mark II N until you are satisfied with the results.

The Unsharp Mask settings that we published in the Camera Handling & Maximum Image Quality PDF (Amount: 300%, Pixel Radius: 0./3, Threshold: 0) were clearly stated to be "a very rough guideline for high-quality inkjet-printed output at A4 or letter size." These settings can also be considered as our suggestion of a starting point for customization according to other factors. Such factors would include variations in final output size as well as the distinction between images that are intended to be printed versus those that are intended for viewing on a computer monitor. Additional factors are differences in resolution between various camera models and most importantly, differences in personal taste. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution of the image, the higher you can go in terms of the amount setting in Unsharp Mask before the effects of oversharpening start to appear. Also, different types of subject matter can benefit from different approaches to sharpening. For instance, detailed landscapes usually look better to most people when those images are heavily sharpened, whereas portraiture often looks better when sharpening is reduced, or when it is limited to specific portions of the image such as the eyes. Hope this helps!

Does Canon maintain a feedback channel for customer comments and improvement suggestions of its camera products?

Yes. Here is the procedure for registering comments, suggestions, and operational questions:

1. Be sure to disable (temporarily) any active pop-up blockers in your Web browser.

2. Visit the home page for Canon USA Consumer Products Support.

3. Use the pulldown menus to locate the desired product, for example:

Category: EOS (SLR) Camera Systems
Product Type: Digital EOS Cameras
Model: EOS 5D

Once you've selected a camera on the list, the Support Index page for that product will appear.

4. Click on "Support by E-Mail" on the Support Index page. A new page with an on-line form will appear. Please submit your comments, suggestions or questions in the space provided. Once your input is received, a Canon Customer Support Representative will respond.

As one example, the "C"ustom shooting mode setting on the new EOS 5D certainly makes use of mirror lock-up easier, although better access to this often used function has been wished for in forum discussions for years. In addition, the momentary appearance of the current ISO setting in the 5D viewfinder (including newly dialed ISO changes) is a great improvement, and has also been requested through many model and firmware upgrades. I have some additional comments and suggestions concerning the 5D, which might be implemented via future firmware updates, but no specific place to share them.

I note where customers have called on you to voice their opinions in the past. I appreciate your efforts on our behalf, but have some reluctance to burden you with this feedback.

Not a problem. I am always pleased to receive constructive feedback on Canon photographic products! It's part of my job to forward feature requests, new product suggestions, and other user concerns to the Product Development Center at Canon Inc. However, the online e-mail support procedure outlined above is another way to voice your comments as well. Please feel free to use it at your convenience.

Thanks for reading "Tech Tips"! That's it for now. See you in December!

You are invited to submit questions about photo equipment, imaging technology, or photo industry trends that may have a bearing on your work or interests. I cannot promise to answer everything, but I pledge to do my best to address the issues that concern you. (Please use the e-mail link provided at the end of this article.)

© Chuck Westfall

After earning a degree in Professional Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology and accumulating some valuable on-the-job experience during a 10-year stint in commercial photography and photo retail, Chuck Westfall began his corporate career with Canon U.S.A. in 1982 as a Technical Representative. He has steadily advanced through the ranks to achieve his present position as Director of Media & Customer Relationship for the company's Consumer Imaging Group, working out of Canon U.S.A.'s headquarters office in Lake Success, N.Y. Among his many assignments, Chuck Westfall is currently Canon USA's main media spokesman for new camera products. He also provides a unique insider's perspective to financial analysts who follow the company's CIG sales and marketing activities.

Chuck's involvement with digital cameras began in 1994, when he assisted Canon and Kodak engineers in developing the EOS-DCS series of professional SLRs. Since then, his responsibilities have expanded to include participation in the development and launching of many other Camera Division products, including Canon's professional and consumer-oriented digital cameras. Over the last 10 years, Chuck has continued to participate in the design, development, introduction and marketing support of camera products. Most recently, he supervised the launch of a comprehensive on-line and on-site dealer training initiative for the Camera Division.

On the personal side, Chuck married his beautiful wife Ying in 2000 and they have been blessed with a wonderful 2-year old daughter, Anna. As Chuck says, "Bringing up the baby is a blast, and we're enjoying every minute of it."