More rebates. In a continuing sign that the market is soft for certain hard goods, here’s another rebate from Epson, this time for their relatively new Stylus Pro 4900 printer—$1,000 off!  You’ll recall this is their top-of-the-line 17” model with UltraChrome HDR inks…the best there is at the moment in consumer photo inkjet printers.  At least two vendors have the 4900 for sale now for $1,149 (plus shipping).  Wow!  Keep in mind though that this is a large, heavy unit with eleven 200ml ink cartridges that run about $100 each.  You need some serious space to properly set this printer up, and you’d have to make a lot of prints for the arrangement to be economically feasible.  But it’s a heck of a price.  Keep in mind the R3000 rebate for $200 is still in effect, and for most folks that’s a much more practical solution, even if you print a fair bit.

Read RAW files in Microsoft Windows. In an interesting twist, Microsoft has released a Camera Codec Pack for Windows 7 and Vista that enables viewing RAW files directly in Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery.  While the list of supported cameras is not all-inclusive, it’s pretty broad and likely will include the latest cameras before long.  This is a long-standing game of cat and mouse since few manufacturers make their RAW file codes public.  Third party vendors of products designed to manipulate image files (like Adobe, Phase One, Apple, LaserSoft, and many others) have to reverse-engineer the code to arrive at a best guess solution to render the images in the best possible fashion.  Manufacturers like Canon and Nikon have their own software of course and would like you to use it exclusively, but with no exceptions these products have always proven less capable and/or refined than the heavy hitters even though they may include a few features that are nice to have.  A few manufacturers have taken the enlighten route of using Adobe’s DNG (Digital Negative) public archival format for their RAW files, removing one more annoying hurdle between builders and buyers—kudos to Leica and Ricoh, and may others follow.

Major announcements next month. Traditionally, big manufacturers like Canon and Nikon make major announcements of new product in August.  Gossip and rumors have been slow of late but are expected to accelerate soon as dates are set for press releases.

Printing photos. One website that has been a mainstay for quality information during the evolution of digital imaging has been Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com).  It’s evolved dramatically itself, including a change of ownership, physical location, and major appearance and content alterations.  Now they’ve added a new printer section.  For those who haven’t dabbled extensively with making your own photographic prints with an inkjet printer, there’s some pretty good stuff here.  Currently there are two Printer Primer articles, the first on Choosing a Photo Printer and the second on Print Workflow; combined, they offer one of the best introductions to the topic I’ve seen.

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