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I’ve been a tech junkie for a very long time. It seems that whenever new technology appears, I’m fairly quick to try it out.

Several years ago, I bought a MakerBot 3D printer. Early adopters know that purchasing new technology is usually expensive – this model had a price tag just north of $2000. Using it, I’ve learned the mechanics of how these amazing devices turn long rolls of plastic filament (PLA) into very detailed solid models. The prize is a collection of plastic models that adorn my office and the house. To be honest, I haven’t had a need for additional 3D models, so the MakerBot has been sitting unused for the past few months.

At this past January’s Consumer Electronics Show I ran across a couple of new 3D printers. And while the technology is no longer new, the prices of several of the printers are now within the grasp of many more consumers. My interest in a second 3D printer was motivated by my curiosity about the quality of the finished models compared to the more expensive MakerBot from a couple of years ago.

New Matter is a relatively new manufacturer that makes the MOD-t 3D printer. I purchased one directly from New Matter bundled with additional filament and accessories for $350 – a huge price difference vs. the MakerBot from a few years ago.


The MODt is small in size and can easily fit on a desktop. When operating, the continuous movement of the base plate mechanism creates a a noticeable noise. The clear plastic cover keeps the noise level down. 3D models are created by emitting melted plastic filament (PLA) from the heated extruder. The PLA is supplied in long rolls of different colors. A 150-meter length roll of PLA costs about $20.

Here’s the MODt at work as it lays down a few thin layers of melted PLA. A few minutes later, several more layers have been added revealing more of the model.

This is the completed 3D model. You can see that the completed project shows a tremendous amount of detail. The patterns for models are available free from many online 3D libraries. This model was available from the New Matter 3D library.

This model was printed as two separate parts. Afterward, the base and the launcher were combined to turn it into a working catapult. This white model was also printed as two separate parts – the bottom circular plate and the tall intricate vase. Complex models may take a few hours to complete.


I’m impressed with the quality of the finished 3D models, especially at the rock-bottom $$300 price. For more information, please visit New Matter.



Some Day My Prints Will Come

For decades I was schooled in conventional (film) photography. So it’s natural that I am a lover of photographic prints. And although I enjoy the convenience and portability of electronic display devices, I simply prefer to view my work on hardcopy prints.

Last last year, I ordered a large format printer – the Epson P800. Normally it makes prints up to size 17″ x 22″. Add a roll paper feeder and it can produce enormous panoramas up to 129″ wide. Since the printer was in high demand at the time, my waiting time was about a month for delivery.

When I finally received the printer, I was preoccupied with a lot of other work. To ensure that the printer was working properly I used to make only two or three prints and then set it aside.

Jump ahead two months and I’m attending the WPPI Conference & Expo. I think to myself that I should learn about printing papers to get the best results from the investment in my Epson P800. And so at WPPI I stop at several makers of fine art papers to get educated.

Hahnemuhle is a German based company that offers a wide variety of papers. I look at their large catalog and am stumped by some of the terminology. So I start asking questions.

What is baryta paper? I’m told that it is paper coated with barium sulphate, a substance used on traditional photographic paper. When baryta paper is used for inkjet printing, it supposedly reproduces the effect of silver halide processing.

Many of the paper descriptions include a gsm value. I find that gsm is an acronym for grams per square meter. Thus a square meter of Canvas Metallic 350 gsm paper is heavier than FineArt Baryta Satin 3500 gsm paper.

I am also curious about paper with the rag description. I learn that this paper is made from cotton linters or rags and is superior to wood-based paper.

The helpful representative left me with this sampler – a collection of their fine art photography papers and other helpful literature. For more information please visit Hahnemuhle.

Namhoon Kim is the Marketing Manager for Durico Media. The company is based in southern California. As you can see from the below photograph, they have a rather large selection of papers.

I helped myself to about a dozen of their print samples all on different paper stock. I find that the samples are the only way to determine if a paper is suitable for one of my prints. Reading a catalog description does not give me the know-how to select a paper – I require hands-on to feel the surface and a sample photograph to give me the visual feedback.

For more information, please visit Durico Imaging.

Epson is probably best known as a manufacturer of printers. They also are a large producer of high quality printing papers.

My visit to Epson is to find out more about their printing papers and luckily I am handed a “Print Sample Guide” to take with me. It has their complete line of papers with printed samples: photographic, matte, cotton fine art and canvas.

Before I depart the representative shows me their new software Epson Print Layout. This app is for users of Epson professional printers and provides a convenient and elegant way to organize, set up and print your images. If you’re a user of a high end Epson printer, you can download a copy of the Epson software from here.

For more information about their papers, please visit Epson.

Paperwise, I’m 3 for 3. I walked away with samples from three different manufacturers. So with samples in hand, I am prepared to make my paper choices. Now I’m ready to fire up that printer that has been sitting idle waiting for me.


Written by: Arnie lee



Instant Photography – prints while you shoot

At the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo held earlier in February, I couldn’t help but notice several attractive displays at the huge Fujifilm booth.

Fujifilm has been producing instant photo cameras since before the turn of the century (2000) as a successor to the groundbreaking Polaroid line.

Their most popular model is the Instax 70 Mini which comes in six vivid colors – white, yellow, blue, gold, red and black.

All of these cameras feature auto focus, auto exposure, self-timer, fill flash and tripod socket. They also have a convenient “selfie” mode.

Fujifilm’s line of instant photograph cameras are an attractive addition for enhancing wedding, reunion, or party events. Make the rounds among the guests with one of these cameras and there’s an exciting picture for them to see.

Instax Mini film is packaged in sets to produce 10 – 62mm x 46mm photos – about the size of a credit card.

In addition to photographs with white borders, the packages of film can be purchased with these designs and colors: black, sky blue, rainbow, candy pop, stained glass, shiny star, comic, air mail, stripe, and Hello Kitty. There is also a monochrome film package for producing black and white photos.

Here’s a photo of me taken with a colorful border. It takes about 90 seconds from pressing the shutter release until the photograph is fully “developed”.

Here’s a couple of wedding displays that were created from Instax cameras.

The suggested price of Instax 70 Mini is $110. The Instax Mini Film sells for about $15 for 2 x 10-exposure packages.

There is also an Instax Wide 300 model camera which can take instant photos that are double wide: 62mm x 92mm.

For more information about the Instax line of cameras, please visit Fujifilm.


Written by: Arnie Lee





Looking at a Few More Gadgets

Consumer Electronics Show is a yearly showplace for the newest whiz bang devices that are making their way to the marketplace. I returned from CES with a stack of brochures and notes about some of these products.

Here’s a few more of them that interested me most at this year’s CES.

Parrot Bebop 2 – Lightweight Drone

Further down one of the aisles there was a large crowd gathered. This was the Parrot booth where I witnessed a cool choreographed “dance” of a fleet of colorful drones.

The Bebop 2 drone is lightweight with 3-axis stabilization. The integrated 14MP camera with fisheye lens records in either still or video modes which you can aim through 180-degree direction. You control the Bebop 2 with either your smartphone or tablet which shows you what the camera sees. The battery can power the drone for about 25 minutes.


The Bebop 2 also has a built-in GPS receiver that you can programmed to follow a pre-set path. I’m guessing that this is how the choreography was performed.

The suggested price is $549. For more information please visit Parrot.

Robo 3D R1+Plus – 3D Printer

I’ve owned an early model 3D printer for a couple of years. At first I printed many of the samples that you can download for free from many online sites. This certainly expands the use of the printer but only for those owners who have the know-how and expend the effort to find the projects.

The Robo R1+Plus is one of only a few 3D printers that are available at retail stores. It offers one of the largest build size for this class of printer: 10″ x 9″ x 8″.Robo has wisely created a set of ready to print projects that can be offered at the point-of-sale. A potential buyer can see some of the many things he/she can create with the printer.

The suggested price for the R1+Plus is $799. For more information please visit Robo 3D.

New Balance Shoe – Midsole Made with 3D Printer

At the 3D Systems booth, sports shoe maker New Balance was showing a new running shoe with a midsole made with a 3D printer. The midsole is the result of a special powder that offers strength and durability.

For more information please visit New Balance.

pq Custom Eyewear – Printed with a 3D Printer

It took me a few minutes to figure out what this display was about but it’s turned out to be very interesting. This booth was pq Eyeware by noted designer Ron Arad.

These are custom designed frames without hinges and manufactured using a 3D printer made by 3D Systems.

For more information please visit pq Eyeware.

Written by: Arnie Lee


Epson SureColor P600

21st March 2015

Professional Quality Prints

One of the stops at this month’s Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo was the Epson booth.

For several years I’ve used the Epson R2880 to print mid-size photographs. I wanted to see the new Epson P600 which is the successor to the R2880. The two are similar in many respects: 9 ink cartridges; 3 levels of black for b&w images; accommodates paper sizes to 13″ x 19″; 13″ roll paper handling for 13″ wide panoramas.

The P600 uses Epson’s latest UltraChrome HD ink. The ink is packaged in higher capacity cartridges. According to the Epson representative, the black inks have been improved for richer b&w prints.

In addition to the excellent quality of the P2880, the print speed was relatively fast – 2 minutes for an 8″x10″. I watched several iterations at the Epson booth and the P600 produced equally high quality prints at about the same speed.

The paper tray can accommodate 30 sheets of photo paper. For printing on fine art paper, there is a separate single sheet feeder.

Epson has a variety of excellent photo papers. Using roll paper, you can print panoramas 13″ high by 10 feet wide.

I’m a fan of many of Epson’s photo and fine art papers to creatively match your images. They include glossy, matte, metallic, textured, canvas, more. The P600 is on my short list of equipment to buy.

The suggested price is $799 and is available immediately. For more information about the P600, please visit Epson.

Written by Arnie Lee

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High Quality Desktop Printer

I’m an ardent believer that it’s better to get your photographs off of your hard drive and into print.

About ten years ago, we had a 13″ wide printer to handle some of our smaller photographs. However, after it died following a long and generous life, we chose not to replace it. Since then we’ve been using a variety of photofinishers to reproduce our photographs.

After strolling by the Epson booth and seeing some of their impressive photograph displays, I talked to one of their customer representatives and am now considering their new Surecolor P600.

The P600 is a replacement for their previous R3000 model. It connects to your computer setup via an Ethernet connection or via WiFi. You’ll need a desktop area of 24″x36″ for the printer.

The top loader automatically feeds 13″x19″ paper for borderless printing. There’s a front loader for feeding single sheets of specialty fine art papers up to 1.3mm thickness. For panoramic prints up to 10 feet long, the P600 accepts the included roll feeder.

The P600 uses nine high capacity ink cartridges including three types of black ink for smooth toned black and white photographs.

The many photographs on display at the Epson booth demonstrated excellent quality on a variety of papers including these panoramas. In the past, I’ve had positive experiences using many fine art papers from Epson’s wide selection.

I asked the Epson representative about my concern about clogged ink cartridges when the printer is sits unused for a short while and was told that the ink will remain usable for up to six months from installation.

The list price of the Epson Surecolor P600 is $795. For more information, see the Epson P600 webpage for details.

The P600 is now on my short list of equipment purchases. I’m anxious to print several panoramas that I’ve stored on my hard drive – again, the hard drive is not a good place to keep photographs.
Written by: Arnie Lee


Showing Off Your Photographs

Digital gives us the opportunity to take hundreds and hundreds of photos for almost no cost at all. This is an amazing turnaround compared to the price of using film cameras that had a processing charge saddled to each roll of film that we shot.

So what are we doing with all of these “free” photos? Are they sitting on the SD memory card or cell phone? I’m sure that my friends and relatives are impressed as I flick through the tiny screen to show them my recent vacation shot – NOT!

Well, to be frank, my fingers are tired of flicking the screen. And my friends and relatives typically avoid asking to see pictures of my travels. So I decided to print – yes you heard it correctly – print some of the photos.

One afternoon I collected a set of my favorite nature shots and sent them to the photofinisher. A few days later received back a short stack of 8″ x 10″s and 8″ x 12″s

Now the issue is how do I present them?

I didn’t really want to arrange them in a conventional album that would sit on the top of a coffee table. No, I longed for a different way to display them.

I decided that I’d show them off by making a small gallery in an unused room. The room is well suited for this purpose with a large, uncluttered wall painted white.

Rather than “hanging” the photos, I decided to make a very miniature shelf system. I bought a few 10-foot lengths of “J-TRIM” used to install vinyl house siding. These strips are lightweight and inexpensive. Use scissors to cut to desired length.

Use a tape measure to mount the J-TRIM level about 54″ above the floor. I used these ribbed plastic anchors (3/16″ size).

Here I’m drilling a hole through the J-TRIM into the drywall.

Next you push the plastic ribbed anchor into the drilled hole.

Then fasten the J-TRIM to the drywall with one of the screws.

By themselves, the prints are too flimsy to stand on the miniature shelf. I purchased these sheets of mat board precut for the 8″x10″s and 8″x12″s.

Using the 3M spray-on adhesive, I mounted the photos onto the mat board.

I found it necessary to use this Scotch “mounting putty” to keep the photos from falling from the miniature shelf.

The putty is pasted between the photo mat board and the wall to keep the top of the photograph from falling.

Here’s another view of the putty which hold the mat board agains the wall.

Here you can see the photo resting in the channel of the miniature shelf.

When all is said and done, I have a small gallery of my latest travel photographs. As you might guess, when you’re tired of looking at this group of photographs, it’s very easy to change them.

Material List:

2 pieces of J-Channel – 10′ Vinyl 1/2″ J_Trim @ $2.40 each (Home Depot)
1 pkg – plastic ribbed anchors #4 – 1″ @ $7.99
1 pkg – 8″ x 10″ or 8″ x 12″ mat board 25 sheets @ $12.50
1 can 3M General Purpose 45 spray mount @ $5.00
Written by: Arnie Lee


MakerBot and 3D Printing

14th November 2013

3D Printers will soon be Commonplace

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I spent some time scouting out 3D printers. These are devices that can build or construct a three-dimensional solid object. For a couple of months, I studied the literature and researched several models via the Internet.

A couple of months later while I was in New York City, I stopped by a store in downtown Manhattan. It’s not your usual store – it’s for “techies” like me. MakerBot, a manufacturer of 3D printers had opened a store right in Manhattan. If the staff could prove to me that using their Replicator 2 was simple, I’d buy one.

Polaroid Redux

If you’re old enough to remember the phrase instant photography then you’ll know Polaroid. For several decades beginning in the 1950’s you would often see picture takers peeling the negative backing from their print to reveal a magical photograph.


Last week I traveled to New York to attend the PhotoPlus Expo, a yearly gathering where major manufacturers of photographic equipment and accessories exhibit their wares and providers of services and training hold sessions and demonstrations for both professionals and the interested public.

I’m told that some 22,000 of the photographically inclined attended the expo over the three days. PPE which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, is held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

In coming articles, I’ll have several reports on some of the new equipment and accessories that I found interesting at this year’s PPE.

I’ll start this short series of articles with a piece of equipment which is a throwback to a much earlier time. Those of you who recall Polaroid are familiar with the concept of “instant” photography. With a Polaroid camera, after you press the shutter, a stiff sheet of shiny paper is ejected from its side and after 60 seconds (not quite instantly) the image magically develops on the paper.


For several years now, Fuji has been selling a replacement for the defunct Polaroid system. Their newest model, the Instax Mini 90, uses a 10 exposure ‘print pack’.

The Mini 90 is a solidly built and very retro black. The white, blue and pink models are from their previous Mini 8 and Mini 25 series. Print pack pricing breaks down at a cost of about $1 each.

The film packs are either with white background or “rainbow” with a variety of background colors.

The Fuji representative captured my face using one of the Mini 90 cameras to prove to me that it was real! The image takes about 10 seconds to appear and the coloring is quite good.


I have seen these cameras being used a weddings, showers and other gatherings and the Fuji rep confirmed their popularity. If you have need for quick prints, this is certainly a foolproof and affordable way to get them.

You can find out more about the Mini 90 at Fuji Instant Photo System.
Written by: Arnie Lee







Panoramas the easy way

27th August 2012

Photographically speaking, a panorama is a photograph that encompasses a very wide view. I like panoramas because they reproduce a scene as if I were viewing it live by turning my head from the far left to the far right. I can view the photograph in small ‘chunks’ as I scan the entire image from the left to the right.

In the past, making a panorama was a complicated, multiple step process involving capturing the images and then stitching them together whether it be done chemically in a darkroom or digitally with a computer. I won’t go into details of making panoramas using either of these two “conventional” ways. Instead, I’ll point out the ease with which a feature on certain cameras enables me to easily make panoramas in one step.

For the past two years I’ve been using several Sony Alpha series and NEX series cameras to shoot panoramas. These cameras enjoy a feature called Sweep Panorama. When this feature is chosen, you simultaneously depress the shutter and move the camera in a sweeping fashion to the right. As you do this, the camera captures multiple images of the scene. The camera signals the completion of the sweep by halting the shutter. A few seconds afterward, the panoramic capture appears on the camera’s LCD for your review. Press the PLAY button and the image is displayed from left to right – in video fashion – but is actually a single, still panoramic image.

Above, I explained that the sweeping motion is from left to right. But in fact these Sony cameras let you sweep left to right; right to left; up to down; and down to up. These cameras also capture three dimensional appearing images using 3D Sweep Panorama that can be displayed on certain compatible 3D television sets.

Here’s a few of the panoramas that I’ve taken with various Sony cameras. You can click on each of the images to see a wide view of the panorama.

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada


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