Once again, some shorter items to entertain, educate, and amuse.
The future comes quickly these days
Remember my column a few months back about how one might make an iPad-sized digital view camera? No? You can refresh your memory here.
Well, reader Jim Hayes sent me a link to this wonderful news article, "A Smart-Phone Camera that Offers More than Megapixels: Pelican Imaging's 'array camera' will mean thinner devices and new imaging tricks."
Isn't that great? It's a different end-purpose, but it's exactly the same core concept: using an array of miniaturized cameras to achieve the same result you'd get out of a single much bulkier one.
I wouldn't count on it, but this might even end up mattering to thee and me. If the camera modules aren't too expensive or power-hungry (reasonable assumptions) and if the software is scalable to more individual cameras (who knows?), a pocketable "view camera" becomes a lot more plausible. You could put 1000 microcameras on the back of a smart phone case. So it's not a tablet-sized 8 x 10 view camera); it's "only" a pocketable 4x5 view camera equivalent. I could live with that. And I think you could keep the selling price under a grand, even for relatively modest numbers of units.
I won't get my hopes up. But I am going to be paying attention.
Paper? Still unsatisfactory
Just about a year ago I wrote "They're Selling Us Crap Paper," about the time that Hahnemuhle took over responsibility from Harman for Gloss FB Al paper (and retitled it Gloss Baryta).
For a while, it looked like the situation had gotten better; not really acceptable, but hardly worse than anyone else. But, my last several boxes had 65% of the sheets unusable. That drove me to get in touch with Hahnemuhle, in the person of Holly Sechan, the incredibly helpful and forthcoming Customer Service Manager of Hahnemuhle USA. She promptly forwarded my complaints and sample sheets to the mill, which is going to see what they can do to straighten out the mess. She has queued up an order so that as soon as new paper incorporating the fixes is available I will get it. Every step of the way she's gotten an A+.
The good news is that the mill readily agrees there's a problem. That's over half the battle. Still, it's likely to be a couple of months to fix the problem, and meanwhile I can't rely on this paper. I've switched to Ilford Gold Fibre Silk, which I do not like quite as much but is a close second. I prefer a paper that is a little glossier and has less surface texture, something that looks as close to darkroom air-dried F surface as possible. I'm not sensitive to base color or whiteness, but I really detest textured papers. For example, Epson's Exhibition Fiber is a no-go for me, and I could never live with the Canson Platine Fibre Rag paper that Charlie Cramer uses, lovely as his work looks on it. Gold Fibre Silk looks like the next-best option.
My absolute favorite supply company
Do you know about Uline? They sell shipping supplies—boxes, tubes, folders, envelopes, stiffeners, padding, tape, you name it. If you ship more than a handful of packages of a particular size, you should really be buying your supplies from them.
They don't sell onesies and twosies. Depending on the price and size of the item, a bundle or case lot may contain anywhere from 10 to 100 items. Most of you are thinking that you don't ship anywhere near that much, so why bother?
Three reasons. The first is that they're fabulously cheap. Ten boxes from them cost about the same as two or three boxes at your local packaging store (odds are said store gets their goods from Uline). Example: I just bought 26 double-walled Kraft mailing tubes with metal end caps, 24x4" for $4 apiece (all the prices I give include the sales tax and delivery charges). Being exactly the size and weight I need, I'm also saving several dollars on shipping over what I found at my local store. Another example: flat folding mailers for shipping 11x14" prints run a little over a buck, for 17x22" prints it's $2.70. Even sturdily packed with cardboard sheeting (which Uline also sells), they're cheap and light.
Second, they deliver to your door and they'll bill. Stuff arrives within a couple of days of your ordering, but you don't pay until the end of the month.
Third, the variety is amazing; they have ways of packaging items for shipping that you probably never imagined. If you need to ship over- or odd-sized or especially fragile items, you are far more likely to find the most cost-effective packaging method at Uline than at your local store. Unnecessarily large or heavy packaging costs you more and is more expensive to ship.
Uline will save you lots of money and time spent making up packages.
This regular weekly column by Ctein (the name is pronounced "kuh-TINE," and yes, it's his whole name) appears on TOP on Wednesdays.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Chad Thompson: "Here at the gallery we use Uline for about everything shipping/packaging related. The tea shop next door, same thing. The only beef I have with them is that everyone in the office that's ever contacted them gets a catalog sent to them. Currently we receive four catalogs about every three months. Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that when someone here calls to tell them we only need one catalog Uline puts that person on the mailing list too. Other than that they're great."
Ctein replies: Heh, I know what you mean. A new one seems to come every two months...plus they include one with any shipment I get, even though I'm already on the mailing list. (Readers should understand we're not talking 16-side flimsies—these are 500-page tomes with slick color printing that weigh over a pound.) I keep thinking this has to be a waste of money for them. On the other hand, my entire knowledge about the business of paper-goods selling comes from watching "The Office." So what do I know? Maybe this is really a profit-effective strategy.