Business-like, isn't he?



Business in Vancouver: News that works for you

    Photos, scans a snap

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #727 September 30- October 6, 2003 GearGuide  column

    New products from Nikon, Epson and HP offer innovations

    Shoot better

    Nikon Coolpix 5700Two months ago, this column looked at five-megapixel digital cameras. At the time it seemed like users could get a lot of pixels or get a big zoom. Too late for that roundup, I got my hands on Nikon's Coolpix 5700. For under $1,500, this camera combines the power of an eight-times optical zoom lens (the real thing) with the ability to save images up to a full five megapixels in size.

    While the camera won't fit in your pocket, it's got an attractive (and surprisingly small and light) black body that fits nicely in your hand. The flip-out LCD viewfinder makes it easy to compose shots from a wide range of angles. Image quality and colour balance are good. The big zoom can be addictive. Remember that you'll get sharper photos if you can get closer to your subject and use less extreme zooming.

    Like other manufacturers, the storage card that Nikon includes is too small for practical use. Best to budget for a couple of high-capacity memory cards.

    Scan smarter

    Epson Perfection 1670 scannerIf the original that you scan is faded or has tears or blotches, your scanned image will accurately reflect those flaws. Many users have software that can be used to clean up the digital copy, but often, users don't bother or don't know how to do it.

    Epson's new Perfection 1670 Photo Scanner (under $200) cleverly builds the fix into the scanning software, restoring faded colour and removing dust to make your scanned images look like new. Installation is a snap and its USB 2.0 connection makes for fast scans. A transparency adapter for scanning slides and a snapshot feeder making it easy to scan bunches of photos are both built-into the lid. In Full-Auto mode, it's easy to digitize a pile of prints quickly, with the software automatically scanning, cropping, colour-correcting and saving each image.

    ArcSoft PhotoImpression photo editing and Abbyy FineReader Sprint optical character recognition (OCR) software is included.

    Users needing to scan lots of pages of text may find its letter-sized scanning tray and lack of a full-sized document feeder a drawback, however. And oddly, the automated dust-removal feature seems to only work when scanning slides. But the Perfection 1670 provides good value for users who need to digitize lots of snapshots or slides quickly.

    HP Scanjet 4670-- Early in September, HP released a blitz of over 150 consumer products. Among them, the $300 Scanjet 4670 scanner features an unusual vertical design. Looking like a Lucite picture frame, it's about the size and shape of a spiral notebook balanced on its spine, minimizing the space it requires on a desktop. It will also work in a more conventional horizontal orientation.

    Like Epson's model, it includes a transparency adapter for scanning slides and photo negatives, includes entry-level photo editing and OCR software and uses USB 2.0 for fast performance. Included ArcSoft Panorama Maker software allows users to scan large originals in pieces, using the software to "stitch" the pieces together to reassemble the original image.

    Both scanners and the Nikon camera can be used by both Windows and Mac users.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan