Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon Codec Updated

    • 3 Comments

    The issues with the Nikon RAW codec that we reported last week were due to an expired certificate. The issue has been addressed, and the updated codec can be downloaded from the Nikon Website.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon Codec Issues

    • 6 Comments

    We've received reports from several users that the Nikon NEF codec has stopped working for them in the past few days. Microsoft is investigating this issue with Nikon, and we'll perovide an update when we have more information

    Thanks

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft at Home talks about photos

    If you're interested in keeping up with what Microsoft is doing in the home for consumers, check out the Microsoft at Home site.

    Today they have an article on the Windows Vista Photo Gallery: Create the perfect picture, but they also have a bunch of other great articles on a variety of subjects related to digital memories

    Make memories come alive

    Erase objects from photos

    4 fast fixes for your digital photos

    Top 3 digital shooting mistakes

    Take better pictures of the great outdoors: 6 tips

    Enjoy!

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    3 Technologies That Will Change Photography

    • 3 Comments

    (This is a modified version of a post I originally wrote for Waggleverse, another blog to which I contribute) 

    Generally, when people think about the game changers in the digital photography world, they think about improvements in sensors (more megapixels!) or lens quality improvements. If you go to the trade shows, you’ll also see a lot of activity around moving smarts and processing onto the camera (e.g., using face detection before the snap to decide where to autofocus the lens).

    There are definitely advances going on all the time in those areas, but I’m going to take the slightly contrarian position that, at least in the consumer space, we’re close to maxing out the innovation in those domains. Honestly, the pictures my camera take today look pretty good. We’ll see some advances in how they handle low-light conditions and some other weak areas, but overall, we’re getting close to good enough.

    Instead, here are three technologies that I believe may lead to a sea change in the way that people think about and use photos in their daily lives:

    Mini Projectors

    At January 2007’s CES, Microvision announced an ultra-miniature full-color digital projection display about the size of a Thin Mint (and yes, that’s an actual Thin Mint in the picture if you don’t believe me).

    Who wants to watch a tiny projection of a photo? Well, you do!

    How often have you huddled around the digital screen on a camera back for a quick post-picture re-enjoyment session? Or passed a camera or cellphone around a table to show off pictures of your vacation?

    Face-to-face photo sharing is an emotionally appealing, satisfying experience that lets you tell an interactive story and see the reactions on the listeners faces. Unfortunately, print-less photography and web-based photo sharing has largely wiped this phenomenon out. With the advent of the ability to carry a projector built into your cell-phone, the dynamic changes and the types of photos that people take, as well as how they share them, will change, too.

     

    via Uber Review

    Liquid Lenses

    Cameraphones promised to change the way people thought about picture taking by making camera carrying ubiquitous. But let’s face it, the pictures your cameraphone take are very often very poor quality. They look grainy and out of focus and all your 2x digital zoom is doing is cropping an already low resolution photo down smaller, then stretching it.

    There are a host of reasons that the photos taken by cameraphones lag in quality: sensor quality and lack of a flash are two big ones, but lack of a meaningful optical zoom is more important than you think. If what you’re trying to take a picture of is far away (as it often is) and you can’t zoom, you end up spending much of your valuable photo on the thing around the thing you want to take a picture of. Unfortunately, due to the size constraints of a cameraphone and the traditional structure of a zoom lens (two lens set apart, with the distance between them being a factor in the magnifying power of the pair), we have seen very few cameraphones with much optical zoom capability.

    Along come liquid lenses. As reported by Nature Photonics, using electrical impulses to control the curvature of the meniscus on a drop of liquid, it’s possible to create a variable focal length lens much in the way the human eye works. This will eventually allow cameraphone manufacturers to create reliable, responsive zoom lenses at sizes that make sense for a cameraphone, vastly widening the situations in which the cameraphone can be an effective replacement for a standard point and shoot.

     

    These lenses haven’t made it into production yet, but several companies are in a race to productize their prototypes.

    GPS

    No, this isn’t just for geocachers looking to document their success. Imagine you’ve got a GPS built into your camera such that every photo is stamped with the exact location it was taken. I’m not even going to mention the most obvious use (viewing your photos laid out on a map) (oops, I mentioned it). Instead, let’s focus on what new scenarios it opens up:

    • You’re at a wedding, and want pictures but without the hassle of actually taking them yourself (maybe you want to be in the picture instead of behind the camera). Don’t bother exchanging e-mail addresses with everyone there, just do a search for the time and location of the event and start enjoying the slideshow.
    • Want to know what it’s like to be at the Super Bowl from home? Go to any photo sharing site and search for cameraphone pictures taken now at the Super Bowl stadium and get a real-time multi-perspective view of the event unfolding.
    • You’re a newspaper publisher looking for photos of a political rally (or riot). Just name the time and the place, and you’ve got the photos.
    • Wondering what a particular lake or beach is really like (not just what the travel agent’s picture says it’s like)? No problem, click the spot on a map and start flipping through all the pictures taken there. You can even order them by season, so you get a sense of what the weather’s going to be like at that time of year.

    Sure, all that could have happened if people applied tags manually to their photos, but for many, many people, they don’t and they won’t because it’s just plain tiresome. Automating this process adds a critical piece of metadata to every photo, making it relevant to day-to-day lives.

    - Jordan Schwartz, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Updated Olympus RAW Codec

    • 1 Comments

    Olympus has posted an updated version of their RAW codec for Windows Vista, including support for both 32-bit and 64-bit:

    http://www.olympus.co.jp/en/support/imsg/digicamera/download/software/codec/index.cfm

     

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker Tutorials on YouTube

    • 1 Comments

    If you like using Movie Maker, and want to learn how to get more out of it, check out some of these tutorials that the user community has posted up on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Movie+Maker+tutorial

    None of these were created by Microsoft, so we can’t vouch for the content in any of them (in other words – view at your own risk!), but there are a lot of interesting tips and tricks to be found.

    Here are some of our favorites:

    The user ayumilove has a series of high quality Movie Maker tutorials. Here are a few, check out her profile for more (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

    Trim/Split tutorial (AcronymSkateshop)

    Getting and installing add-ons (soupdragon1971)

    Beat matching video (dragonball000)

    Chromakey without the screen (soupdragon1971)

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Pentax RAW codec released

    • 4 Comments

    Yesterday, Pentax released a Windows Vista codec for their .PEF RAW image format.

    This format is used by the following Pentax cameras: *ist D, *ist DS,*istDS2, *istDL, *istDL2 ,K100D, K10D

    More information can be found on the Pentax website

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker 2.6

    • 4 Comments

    Hi, I’m Bret Ahlstrom. I’m a program manager on the Digital Memories team at Microsoft. Most recently, I was in charge of Movie Maker 2.6, which is available for download here.

    If the Vista version of Movie Maker is working for you, you’re all set, please don’t install Movie Maker 2.6.

    Some machines with certain graphics cards (cards that don’t support the Windows Device Driver Model) are unable to run Vista Movie Maker at all.  Movie Maker 2.6 was developed specifically to ensure that those machines could run a version of Movie Maker.  No other bug fixes or feature enhancements were included in this release.

    What is Movie Maker 2.6
    Movie Maker 2.6 is simply the XPSP2 version of Movie Maker (version 2.1) brought forward to Vista with as few changes as possible. Movie Maker 2.6 is NOT an upgrade from the Vista version of Movie Maker or even an upgrade from the XP version Movie Maker. It does not replace Vista version of Movie Maker, it installs side-by-side with it. It is not designed to be able to run concurrently with the Vista version of Movie Maker, and it can cause problems if you try.

    So why did we ship it?
    Although the Vista version of Movie Maker does not have major changes to the user interface, we did make significant performance improvements to support things like High Definition video.  These changes involved tying Movie Maker’s rendering engine directly to the graphics card and driver.

    However, this change opened up the possibility that machines without sufficiently powerful graphics cards (cards that don’t support the Windows Device Driver Model) would not be able to run Movie Maker. At the time we made the decision, we were fairly confident that this would not be a big issue. Unfortunately, by the time Vista was complete, it became clear that there would be quite a few machines that would be able to run Vista, but would not be able to run Movie Maker. We didn’t want to leave those users out in the cold, so we decided to release a version of Movie Maker that wasn’t tightly tied to the graphics hardware. Movie Maker 2.6 was born.

    Who Should Use Movie Maker 2.6 (and who should NOT)?
    People who have Vista machines with Vista Movie Maker already installed, but who can’t run Vista Movie Maker are the intended audience of Movie Maker 2.6.

    When you launch Vista Movie Maker, if you get an error that says, “Windows Movie Maker cannot start because your video card does not support the required level of hardware acceleration or hardware acceleration is not available”, then Movie Maker 2.6 is for you. If you don’t get this error, the version of Movie Maker that shipped with Windows Vista is the best version for you.

    Bret Ahlstrom - Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Getting Spacey

    • 1 Comments

    The folks here at Microsoft who work on digital photo software and services are pretty passionate about their photos.  So you can imagine that it was a little frustrating for us that Microsoft didn't offer a truly world class way to share the photos that we took on-line.  After Windows Vista shipped, a group of us set about fixing that.

    Windows Live Spaces is a great service for social networking. It lets people create their own home page on the web, link to friends, host gadgets and express their personalities, but it hasn't been a great place to share photos. Today, we took a solid first step towards changing that.

    With the release that went live last night, we've significantly improved the photo experience within Spaces.

    The first thing you may notice is that if you have a photo gadget on your Spaces home page, it should look a bit tighter. Here are some before and after shots to illustrate:

    Spaces Photo Module BeforeSpaces Photo Module After

    On the left is the gadget before the latest set of changes and on the right, after.  As you can see, we moved the player controls, or transports, up from under the photo and overlaid them onto the photo itself.  Don't worry, they will fade away after a few seconds so they don't get in your way, and then return when you move your mouse over the photo.

    OK, pretty subtle.  But wait, there's more! When you open up a photo album by clicking on the module, it used to be that the transports lay off the bottom of the screen on a standard sized monitor, so you had to scroll if you wanted to look at other photos in the album. Getting both the full photo and the transports in view at the same time involved playing with the scrollbar and some fine motor control.

    Album View BeforeAlbum After

    As these two screenshots illustrate, we licked that problem, as well.  On the left is what the page used to look like, and on the right, the new page. You'll notice that the entire photo and the transports are fully visible without scrolling at all.  As a bonus, we open the comments automatically, so you can see when people leave you compliments on your fine photography. (And thanks to Pmatt Freedman for shooting those beautiful bees you see in the examples).

    Finally, we knew it was hard to find an album you were looking for just by scanning a list of names, so we created a page that gave you an overview of all the albums you have on your Space.  Just click the Photos link from the gadget or the View all albums link when viewing a photo album.

    All Albums Page

    From here, you can re-arrange your albums, delete them or just find the one you're looking for.  (Hint: the first album in your list is the one that will appear on your Spaces home screen gadget, use this page to choose it).

    This was only one small part of the overall Spaces release.  Read the Spaces blog to learn more about the other features that were included in this release and get yourself a Space, if you don't already have one.

    Stayed tuned, we're not done yet.

    - Jordan Schwartz (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Living with Vista

    • 1 Comments

    You may have seen news coverage around the Vista launch (link, link) about a special beta program called ‘Living With Windows Vista’. 50 families from around the world participated in the program, which involved them using Windows Vista in their home as their primary PC. The brave families were beta testing builds of Vista as early as Beta 1. Microsoft employees met with them periodically to check on their progress, and listen to what they had to say about Vista. Some families were recruited because of particular interests they had (like music, or photos).

    Photo Families
    There were several ‘photo families’ in the US, and some of our team members went along to visit these families as part of their regular meetings with Microsoft. These families were recruited specifically because of their use of digital photos and/or video. These families were of particular interest to our team, since they were likely to be using and providing feedback on the Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and DVD Maker in Vista.

    Send a Smile, Send a Frown
    One interesting aspect of this program was the ‘Send a Smile’ utility. This is a small tool that was installed on the families’ machines, and let them quickly send comments to Microsoft at any time. The comment could either be something that they liked (a smile), or something they didn’t like (a frown). The utility sent a screen capture of whatever the family was doing at the time, along with their comments and the smile/frown. This feedback was constantly reviewed by the product teams at Microsoft. This allowed us to get immediate feedback from the families at any time of day or night, and required very little effort on the part of the families to report something that either delighted or frustrated them.

    So what did the families like?

    • The hover effect over thumbnails
    • Fix functionality – especially red eye removal
    • One-click e-mail with automatic photo re-size
    • Quick and easy import

    Where did they run into problems?

    • Tags: Some families didn’t understand, or didn’t use the tagging features
    • Gallery vs. Explorer: Some families were confused by the fact that there were two places (Photo Gallery and Pictures Explorer) that they could find and interact with their photos and videos. They didn’t understand the differences, or why there were two places.
    • Save As: The save model in the Photo Gallery took some getting used to. Most families initially expected to find a ‘save as’ feature, and didn’t realize that their photos were saved for them automatically (as well as a backup).

    Making a Difference
    All of the feedback we received from the families was valuable, but there are several areas where we can point to the finished product and demonstrate that this program made a measurable difference. One of the families was having trouble burning CDs from within the Photo Gallery. They had discovered how to perform this operation from the Windows Explorer, but the entry point wasn’t obvious enough in the early Photo Gallery builds. As a result of this feedback, there’s now a top level ‘Burn’ button in the Photo Gallery task bar. Several families also had issues with AutoPlay when they would plug in their cameras to import photos. They didn’t always select the best AutoPlay option the first time through, but early builds of Vista remembered this setting by default, and automatically performed this option in the future without asking. Based on the feedback from these families, we were able to change the default behavior for AutoPlay to give all users a better experience!

    All in all, this was a very successful program. Not only did we get some valuable feedback that helped make the product better for millions of users, but it also gave our team members the opportunity to visit users in their homes, and talk to them first-hand about the impact that the software we build has on their lives (both positively and negatively). Thanks to all of the families who participated in the program – you made a difference!

    Living with Vista press coverage @ CES


    Video: Family on Vista at CES 2007

    The Regan family pushes the button to launch Windows Vista at CES


    Video: Vista Launch Clip

     - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Canon RAW Codec for Vista release

    • 11 Comments

    Canon has released their RAW codec for Windows Vista.  To download it:

    • Visit http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=DownloadIndexAct
    • Category = “EOS (SLR) Camera Systems”, Product Type = “Digital EOS Cameras” and then choose your camera model from the third dropdown
    • Click Go
    • Click the “Drivers / Software” link at the top of the page
    • Choose the Canon RAW Codec  1.0
    • Download and run the executable

    The codec will support .CR2 RAW files, but not .CRW files.  It includes support for the following cameras:

    • EOS-1Ds Mark II
    • EOS-1D Mark III
    • EOS-1D Mark II N
    • EOS-1D Mark II
    • EOS 5D
    • EOS 30D
    • EOS 20D
    • EOS 400D DIGITAL
    • EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi
    • EOS Kiss Digital X
    • EOS 350D DIGITAL
    • EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
    • EOS Kiss Digital N

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker Vista File Format Support

    • 4 Comments

    We've had some questions about what file formats are supported by Movie Maker on Windows Vista. Hope this helps!

    Movie Maker can import a wide variety of video and audio formats.  The format refers to the container which contains the audio and video streams.  The audio and video streams are encoded using a codec which determines how the audio or video is compressed. 

    The following summaries the key format containers that Movie Maker supports:

    Video

    • DV-AVI (AVI)
    • Windows Media Video (WMV, ASF)
    • DVR-MS (Windows Media Center Vista Premium and Ultimate only, DVR-MS)
    • MPEG-2 (MPEG-2 Program Streams on Vista Premium and Ultimate only, MPG)
    • MPEG-1 (MPG)

    Audio

    • WAV (WAV)
    • MP3 (MP3)
    • Windows Media Audio (WMA)

    When a file is imported in Movie Maker, Movie Maker will open the container format and then use DirectShow to determine what codecs are required to decode the audio and video streams.  Just because the format is supported, for example AVI, doesn’t mean the required codecs are installed on the machine.  Given the wide range of codecs available this can cause confusion.  If the codec required to decode the video is not available, the file will not be properly imported.  For example, if only the audio codec is available for a video file, the video will be rendered as black.   

    One of the most popular container formats is AVI.  AVI files can contain a wide range video codecs, for example, the AVI video stream maybe encoded with MPEG-4 video.  Assuming you have installed the proper video codec, Movie Maker will import this content.  Movie Maker will always attempt to import the media file and if the proper DirectShow filter is registered, the content will be imported.   

    Most solid state video cameras include the required codecs that can be used by Movie Maker to import the file.  Devices use a wide range of file formats and codecs so it’s difficult to provide a detailed list of supported device and formats.  Typically, if the video file can be played in Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker can import the content.  If you cannot playback the file in Windows Media Player, check to make sure you have the proper codecs installed on your machine.  If the codec is not installed on your machine, download the codec directly from the manufactures web site.  It is recommended to only install the codecs that you require. Also keep in mind that DRM protected content cannot be imported into Movie Maker. 

    When publishing your movie from Movie Maker, Movie Maker can publish video files to DV-AVI, Windows Media and Windows Media HD.  Movie Maker provides a set of predefine Windows Media profiles targeting the most common scenarios, but you can also create your own custom profile.  On Vista Premium and Ultimate, you can also publish your videos directly to DVD. 

    Related articles:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/faq/codec.mspx
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308464 (Windows XP)
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/moviemaker/expert/customprofile.mspx

    - Michael Patten (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    HD Photo

    • 4 Comments

    Last week at PMA, Microsoft formally announced HD Photo. For more information on HD Photo, head over to Bill Crow’s blog. The official press release can be found here. Here’s a summary of the important details:

    • Microsoft is announcing HD Photo, a new format for end-to-end digital photography which offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today’s digital imaging applications
    • The HD Photo Device Porting Kit, used to implement HD Photo in devices and other platforms
    • Royalty free licensing
    • A free set of HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, developed in conjunction with Adobe
    • Microsoft is committed to standardizing the HD Photo technology

    HD Photo overview & details:

    • A new format for end-to-end digital photography which offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today’s digital imaging applications
    • Key benefits include:
      • Better Image Fidelity: Preserving all the original image content, enabling the highest quality exposure and color adjustments
      • State of the art compression: Up to twice the efficiency of JPEG with fewer damaging artifacts, and scalable to lossless
      • Powerful Features: Decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or manipulate the image as compressed data
    • Technical Details
      • Support for the Widest Range of Pixel Formats
      • High Performance, Low Footprint Algorithm
      • Advanced Decoding and Transformation Operations
      • Better image quality in a file that is up to ½ the size of JPEG
      • Lossless and lossy compression with the same algorithm
      • Lossy compression is much less destructive than JPEG
      • An efficient, portable photo interchange format that preserves the entire dynamic range
    • HD Photo Support in Microsoft products:
      • Windows Vista in-box support
      • Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 support via Windows Imaging Component (WIC), a free download
      • Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
      • HD Photo Device Porting Kit
      • NET Framework 3.0
      • XML Paper Specification (XPS) – The XPS format utilizes the HD Photo format to store image data
      • Photo Info Power Toy
      • Microsoft Expression Family
      • HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop

    - pixblog

     

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon RAW Codec Update

    • 6 Comments

    Nikon has posted an updated version of its RAW codec for Windows Vista. Nikon and Microsoft had received reports of compatibility issues that we initially addressed in a previous blog post.

    The Fix
    The updated codec corrects the incompatibility issues that were previously reported. NEF files that are tagged in Windows Vista using the new codec should be readable by third-party applications, such as Adobe® Photoshop® software. Files that had previously been tagged in the initial version of the codec should also now be readable by third-party applications once they have been tagged on a system with the updated codec installed.

    Other Changes
    In addition to the fix described above, there are a few other minor changes:

    • The download package is now correctly signed.
    • A memory leak has been fixed.
    • The installer checks OS version before installing, and does not install on the 64-bit version of Windows Vista.

    Background
    The .NEF file format is a proprietary file format defined by Nikon, and incompatibilities can occur when third-parties attempt to reverse-engineer this format. The Nikon codec wrote metadata to the file in a manner which, while technically correct, was unexpected by many third parties. So there was no loss or corruption of data in these files, they simply became unreadable because these applications did not know how to interpret the changes. Applications that relied on the Nikon codec, or otherwise understood how to interpret the contents of the NEF files were not affected. The updated codec writes the metadata to the files in a way which is less prone to confuse other applications.

    Get the Fix
    The updated codec can be downloaded here. The Photo Gallery update mechanism will also take you to the updated codec. 

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Digital Image Suite and Windows Vista

    • 4 Comments

    We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about Digital Image Suite, and how it works with Windows Vista.

    Mike writes:

    Hey guys...  I have been reading your blog trying to get some info on how keywords are handled in Vista Photo Gallery. I have been using Digital Image Suite Library 2006 (and earlier versions) for quite some time. I have 20gigs of photos all with keywords.

    I would like to be using the "standard" for storing these keywords on my photos and it seems, from reading your blog that XMP is the way to go...

    So my questions are:

    1. Does Vista Photo Gallery read the DIS2006 keywords and convert them to XMP format?

    2. If not, is there a way to do this in a batch job? (I just want to click a button and have it fix all of my pictures)

    3. Should I be worrying about this at all?

    4. Is there going to be a future version of DIS2006?  And if so will it batch convert all my keywords to the XMP format?

    I know you may not be able to comment on future products, but PLEASE help me out on XMP and my DIS keywords.

    To answer your questions Mike, the Windows Vista Photo Gallery does read keywords from DIS2006 and display them as tags in the Gallery. The tags will not be re-written to XMP unless you make changes that cause the metadata to be re-written to the file. There is no way to force this operation to happen (other than tagging your images). You could pretty easily add a single tag to all of your files, wait for that tag to be written to all of the files, and then later delete that tag.

    One question that you didn’t ask about is whether or not tags written by the Vista Photo Gallery will be viewable in DIS. The answer is no (for DIS2006). Although Vista can read the ‘legacy’ metadata format, DIS2006 does not know how to read the Vista metadata. However, there is a new version of Digital Image Suite – the Anniversary Edition. This updated version can read and write metadata in the same format as Windows Vista.

    One important thing to note about DIS is that the ‘flags’ are not written back to the files like the keywords are, so they will not be read by Windows Vista (which does not have the ‘flags’ feature).

    - Jason Flaks (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Canon 1D & 1Ds RAW File Issues

    • 4 Comments

    Important note to users of Canon 1D & 1Ds RAW files on Windows Vista

    There is an issue with Canon RAW files that end in .TIF (which are limited to 1D & 1Ds cameras) on Windows Vista systems that do not have the Canon RAW codec. If a user adds metadata to one of these files, using the Windows Photo Gallery or the Windows Explorer, the file will be corrupted. This is because the Canon RAW files from these particular camera models appear to be standard TIFF files, and the Windows Imaging Component invokes the standard TIFF codec to handle them. The RAW files, while appearing to conform to the TIFF spec, are interpreted differently by the Canon Raw codec, and so the TIFF codec cannot handle them properly. The Photo Info tool is not impacted.

    Microsoft and Canon have identified the issue and are testing a patch to address the problem. We will provide download information once the patch is released. In the meantime, it is recommended that users not import or add metadata to their 1D or 1Ds RAW files ending in .TIF using the Windows Photo Gallery or the Windows Explorer. Canon will be releasing their RAW codec for Windows Vista soon. When you install the Canon RAW codec, the Windows Imaging Component will invoke the Canon codec to handle these files correctly.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Talking Tags with Jon Udell

    Jon Udell is a blogger at Microsoft who is very interested in metadata and tagging. We had a few conversations that came out of a recent article that he posted on his blog, which led to a deeper discussion of tagging and organization in the Windows Vista Photo Gallery.

    Today, Jon posted a screencast of our conversation where he watches over my shoulder as I walk him through some of the organizational concepts in the Photo Gallery. Check it out here: http://channel9.msdn.com/Media/PhotoGallery.html

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon RAW Codec

    • 9 Comments

    Updated note to users of the Nikon RAW Codec for Windows:  Microsoft has received reports of compatibility issues with Nikon NEF files after installing version 1.0 of Nikon’s RAW codec posted in January 2007.  Tagging the RAW files through Windows Vista or the Microsoft Photo Info tool after the codec is installed appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. We have confirmed that these files can still be opened with Nikon Capture.
     
    Nikon and Microsoft have investigated the issue, and have determined that no data is lost, nor is the image file damaged in any way. Nikon is working on an updated codec that will resolve this issue, and expects to have it released in the very near future.
     
    Tagging the file using Photo Info without the Nikon NEF codec installed appears to be safe.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    RAW Codecs from Sony and Olympus are available

    • 5 Comments

    In the past week, we've seen Vista RAW codecs introduced from both Sony (SRF and SR2 files) and Olympus (ORF files).

    The Photo Gallery 'check for updates' feature will take you to a page with links to the downloads, or use the above links.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Hierarchical Tags and XMP

    • 3 Comments

    A question came in via the blog from Hans regarding our implementation of hierarchical tags using XMP. He writes:

    You chose to use a forward slash as a delimiter (path/path/keyword), which requires that this character cannot be used within a keyword.

    Two problems with this approach:
    1, This limitation is not in the XMP standard, XML has also an explicit, different way of how special characters are supposed to be handeled.
    2, Since XMP allows forward slash - all other apps allow them, too. You can freely enter "Bugs Bunny/Mickey Mouse" or "nuclear/atomic" as a keyword. BUT: Vista Photo Gallery (and Vista Explorer) will think of it as a hierarchical keyword. Not good.

    Thanks for the question, Hans.  I'm sorry to hear that our implementation of hierarchical keywords is causing you problems. We actually made a conscious decision to allow users to manually enter a slash in a keyword (as in "Washington/Seattle") and have that interpreted as a hierarchy. We chose this solution with the behavior of other XMP-supporting applications in mind.

    It is true that XMP doesn't support any notion of hierarchical keywords, but we didn’t want to invent a brand new way of storing this metadata. We chose to use a simple character separator for hierarchical keywords so that the hierarchy would be visible and available for all of the existing applications that support XMP.

    Why slash versus something else? There is no perfect choice here. We wanted to use a character that would show up correctly in every application that didn't support hierarchical keywords (so extended Unicode characters were out of the question) and that would make sense when users saw it (which would not be true for, say, "}"). Additionally, we wanted to choose a character that was not as likely to be used in a normal keyword (which would rule out "." or "-", for instance).

    This left us very few choices. The backslash was considered too DOS/Windows-specific. Ideally, we *do* want third-party applications that support XMP to adopt this convention, so we didn't want to use a solution that seemed Windows-specific. The slash character existed in English punctuation long before computers. Other possibilities were ":" (similarly Mac-specific) and "|" (which is very hard to read when placed between words).

    We knew there was a risk that someone might use a slash in a keyword (such as the examples you gave), but believed these cases would be rare and easily avoided. Without knowing the specifics of your scenario, I would imagine that you could enter "Bugs Bunny" and "Mickey Mouse" as separate tags, which would be more useful for searching and browsing.

    Again, thank you for contacting us about this issue.  Getting feedback on how our solutions work in the real world is critical to making ongoing improvements in future versions.

    - David Parlin, Principal Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon RAW codec issues

    • 8 Comments

    Important note to users of the Nikon RAW Codec for Windows with Nikon RAW files: We have received reported compatibility issues with their Nikon NEF files after installing Nikon’s RAW codec. Tagging the RAW files through Windows Vista or the Photo Info tool appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other  applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. We have confirmed that these files can still be opened with Nikon Capture.
     
    Nikon and Microsoft are investigating the issue, and we will post an update when we have more information. In the meantime, we suggest that you exercise caution with your Nikon RAW files. If you plan on tagging them, make a backup of the file first, and verify that the tagged file continues to work with your other applications before proceeding.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon releases NEF RAW codec for Windows Vista

    • 8 Comments

    It feels like only a few days ago when I was discussing the RAW codec architecture on this blog...in fact, it was. It turns out that the timing couldn't have been better, because today Nikon released their RAW codec for Windows Vista.

    There are two ways to get the codec: You can download it directly from Nikon's site, or you can use the Photo Gallery to assist you.

    If you have .NEF files in any of the folders that are monitored by the Photo Gallery, you will have seen the following dialog on startup of the Gallery:

    Clicking the download button will open a web page with information about the file formats that the Gallery has detected. If you have several different types of RAW files on your machine, you will see a web page open for each file format. The page for Nikon NEF files is here: http://shell.windows.com/fileassoc/0409/xml/redir.asp?EXT=nef, and takes you to the Nikon page to download the codec. Installation instructions are provided.

    If you got tired of seeing that dialog, and checked the "Don't show this message again" box, you can still get to this functionality from the Gallery. Click 'Options' under the 'File' menu, and then click on the 'Check for updates' button at the bottom of the 'General' tab.  

    Other codecs have 'coming soon' pages, but this mechanism will work for them as well when they are released. Of course, we'll also announce the release of new codecs on our blog.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft Photo Info tool released

    • 6 Comments

    One of our sister teams at Microsoft that focuses on the needs of professional photographers has just released a new tool called Microsoft Photo Info.

    It runs on both XP and Vista, and is designed to enable quick and easy viewing and editing of photo metadata in explorer.

     

    I installed it on my Vista machine, and it works as advertised. Right-clicking on a photo in explorer shows a new context-menu item 'Photo Info' that launches the above dialog. This works on both single and multiple selections, allowing you to view and edit important metadata values. What I like even more is how the tooltips in explorer are enhanced to show more relevant metadata as well.

     

    The Windows Vista Photo Gallery does not have the same extensibility model as the Windows Shell, so it was impossible to integrate this tool into the Photo Gallery in this release. I'm sure we'll be looking at enabling these types of scenarios in the future though.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    RAW Support in Windows Vista

    • 8 Comments

    Many photographers (especially those with digital SLRs) shoot in ‘RAW’ mode, which outputs a file format that is proprietary to their camera make and model (e.g. .CR2, .NEF, etc.). These RAW formats preserve more of the original information from the camera than the JPG file that most other cameras output. This extra information provides greater quality, but it comes at a price of convenience. JPG is a universally supported image file format, but as anyone who has used RAW files can tell you, they are anything but universally supported.

    In the past, RAW shooters had to either rely on RAW conversion software provided by their camera manufacturer, or put their fate in the hands of the myriad of software makers who have attempted to reverse-engineer these formats for support in their software applications. This led to a number of problems: compatibility issues, varying quality or inconsistent results from one application to another, and holes in the user workflow where RAW support is lacking.

    Windows Vista attempts to solve these problems by providing an extensible platform that allows support for these (and other) new file formats to be added to Windows by the owner of the file format. This support comes in the form of a codec, which users will get from their camera manufacturer, either by downloading it, or provided with a new camera body. The Photo Gallery will even detect the presence of these files and help you download a codec when it exists.

    Microsoft has been working with the major camera manufacturers so that they can provide codecs for their various RAW formats to their customers. Once these codecs are installed, users will find that they can now view their RAW files and thumbnails throughout Windows Vista. Users can also perform most of the same tasks on their RAW files that they perform on their JPG files in the Photo Gallery – their RAW files can be viewed, tagged, rated, printed, etc. Because photographers shoot RAW for advanced editing of their photos, we did not enable the light touch-up functionality in the Photo Gallery for RAW files. Windows Vista also exposes a set of APIs, so that other applications can also provide this same level of functionality by using the same RAW codec.

    The camera manufacturers are hard at work getting their RAW codecs ready. Although we can’t provide specifics of their individual plans, we expect codecs for the most common RAW formats to be available to customers within the first few months after the January 30th Vista launch. If you are interested in support for your specific camera model, we suggest that you contact your camera manufacturer for more details.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    CES In Review

    • 1 Comments

    Now that CES is behind us, and we’re (mostly) recovering, let’s take a few minutes to review some of the highlights from the past week.

    More FAQs
    “Can you show me that 3d thing?”
    The ‘Flip 3D’ feature is probably the most demo’d feature of Windows Vista. It’s a feature that pivots all open windows at an angle in 3D, and allows you to quickly flip through them to switch applications. It’s quick and easy to demo, and shows off some of the eye candy in Windows Vista. It’s especially cool to see how full motion video continues playing seamlessly in the 3D mode. If you want to try this out yourself, just use the windows key + tab (it works almost exactly like the Alt-tab feature from windows XP, but with a different key combination). The good news is that even after running Windows Vista for many months, I still find myself using this feature on a regular basis – it really is a quick and effective way of switching windows.

    “Will my RAW files work in the Photo Gallery?” We got more questions about RAW support than I expected. The good news is that Vista has an extensible architecture that allows for RAW support. We’ll be posting more detailed information on this blog in the next week or so.

    “Tell me more about the Group Shot demo that Bill showed in his keynote” Here is a link to the Group Shot web page on Microsoft.com. Group Shot is a prototype application from Microsoft Research, and can be downloaded on XP or Vista.

    “Can I publish my photos/videos to the web/blog/etc.” We got this question a lot. This is an area where we still have more work to do. There are no features built into the Windows Vista Photo Gallery for uploading and/or publishing your photos and videos to the web, blog, youtube, myspace, etc. Most of these sites allow you to upload files through your browser, which should still work fine.

    Best in Show
    There’s so much to see at CES, and so little time (especially when you’re working the booth every day!). But we still managed to get out on the floor and check out some of the other exhibits. Here are some of the favorites from our team members:

    • Intel had a ‘multiple your possibilites’ station in their booth. CES attendees would come dance in front of a green screen (for several minutes). They would get filmed from multiple camera angles, and a few minutes later, they would get a copy of their performance on video, with multiple versions of themselves composited together – all on a USB thumb drive. Presumably, people wanted those thumb drives badly enough to get up and dance in front of everyone. P.S. no one on our team was brave enough to do this, but they got a kick out of watching people dance.
    • Rodger was a big fan of the singing Elvis bust from WowWee (the makers of the robosapien, and the “real” chimpanzee head). Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbA2Uk45IX0
    • I loved the 3D LCD that LG was showing off in their booth. Just when HD seems to be hitting mainstream, how long will it be before we all need to buy new TVs again??
    • We had several of the new HP TouchSmart PCs in our booth running Windows Vista. To me, the most exciting thing about the Vista launch is finally being able to see some of the new PC form factors that are coming out. The HP TouchSmart is a great example. HP has built a PC that can be driven by touch instead of the mouse. They have built a application that integrates into Media Center that is optimized for touch. It’s kind of a family dashboard. I could really see putting one of these PCs in a common area of the home for everyone to use and leave notes for each other. Very nice!

    Attack of the open source ninja
    Finally, my favorite story from the show came from Sam: On Wednesday when the booth staff was down in the afternoon, a guy quickly moved from station to station opening IE to http://www.gnu.org/. I went to ask if he had any questions about Vista and he ran off. Vista – it’s got the competitors running scared!

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

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