|Volume 13, Number 13||1 July 2011|
Welcome to the 309th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We conclude our Yosemite book excerpts before Shawn gets out his magnifying glass to look over the Pentax Q (much like Ricoh). Michael details the new Olympus PEN lineup. Then we concoct the world's shortest tip list of things you have to know to take good fireworks pictures. Happy Fourth!
We're pleased to announce A Visit to Yosemite is available for purchase at http://mikepasini.com/yosemite/ebook.php now. You can also get a little more information about the book there and download the Table of Contents.
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please show your appreciation by visiting their links below. And now a word from our sponsors:
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(Excerpted from the illustrated ebook of the same name. Details at http://www.mikepasini.com/yosemite/ebook.php.)
THIRD HIKE: HAPPY ISLES
On the trail to Vernal Fall, there's a couple of islands in the middle of the Merced River that you walk to by bridge. The river was full and ferocious, making it a tempting subject. And despite the Memorial Day crowds, the islands were not heavily visited.
W.E. Dennison, guardian of Yosemite Valley from 1884 to 1887 wrote, "There are three islets. I have named them the Happy Isles, for no one can visit them without for a while forgetting the grinding strife of this world and be happy."
Especially if you have your dSLR set up on a tripod and all the time in the world to capture the river flowing by. Which is what we did.
We found a stretch of river with rocks and fallen trees and dappled sunlight and set up the Velbon. The Velbon's rubber feet can be screwed up the shaft to expose chrome pins. The pins are perfect for digging into dirt (while the rubber feet are a lot better on your floors). So we revealed the pins, let the legs fall free and took out the quick release mount, which we attached to the bottom of the D300 using a coin to tighten the nut.
Then we disabled Vibration Reduction on the lens because the camera was mounted on a tripod.
The zoom lens had the polarizer on it, which if nothing else helped to knock down the light a stop or two. Even so, we had to set the ISO to its lowest setting, which amounts to about ISO 150, according to DxO's sensitivity ratings. Closing the lens down all the way to f32 let us slow the shutter down to 1/4 second.
That slow shutter speed was exactly what we were after.
We wanted to let the rapids paint the picture against the sharper setting of the rocks and tree stumps. There was no wind, so the only thing moving was the water.
We also took a few shots at 1/500 second to freeze the water. That's something you don't see with your naked eye, either.
Why those shutter speeds? No special reason. We tried 1/8 and 1/250 but they weren't quite as dramatic. It costs nothing to experiment.
And for all these images, we were shooting Raw+JPEG in Manual mode. The histogram was our friend, telling us just how our highlights and shadows were being exposed. We made sure we didn't clip the highlights because the water was our subject. And we knew we could massage some detail out of the shadows without introducing much noise using Optics Pro.
It was one of the occasions when we really did think about post processing because it let us worry about the few things we could do something about on site. With a (quickly) moving subject like the river, there was no question of shooting several images to composite into an HDR image.
So we had to choose between highlight and shadow detail. And we knew we didn't have to give up quite as much shadow detail as we might otherwise.
We also took some candids with the D300. An adorable little girl (very little) hoisted up her parents' digicam to take their picture. It was quite a feat and we were lucky to capture it. And we took some candids of our friends, as well.
To do that, we simply switched out of Manual mode and into Program mode. The settings are remembered, not copied from Manual, so it was like having more than one camera. In fact, we used Aperture Priority for a shallow depth of field and Shutter Priority for a fast shutter speed as defaults for a quick change.
But it really isn't difficult to shoot in Manual mode and it gives you a little more control over what gets exposed properly. A dark scene takes only a little click of one or the other dial to capture as a dark scene instead of an evenly lit scene. And the same with a high-key scene. A click cheats exposure to keep it bright.
Over the three days we were in the valley, we counted a lot of cameras. There were some vintage digicams, quite a few new long zooms, mostly entry-level dSLRs but plenty of mid-range dSLRs. And more tripods that we have ever seen in one place, certainly.
Yosemite is a Mecca for photographers, no question.
We used just about everything we had brought except the viewfinder for the E-PL1, which would have made it too big to slip into our coat pocket. That's where we normally carried it when we bring it along because we use it with a wrist strap instead of a shoulder strap.
We were quite comfortable carrying the Speed Demon across one shoulder and the tripod over the other. But we can see the wisdom of a backpack with a tripod carrier built in and a camera on a shoulder strap around our neck or a Cotton Carrier vest (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/CTN/CTN.HTM).
There's nothing quite like having a dSLR at your disposal. There was simply nothing we couldn't do with it. Sometimes it was more convenient to use one of the other cameras but that was mostly because we were carrying all three. The one situation we were reluctant to use it was in the rain or waterfall spray. But even then, there are ways to protect it (think plastic) so you can enjoy its advantages.
We were glad to have the E-PL1 with us, too, though. Because it shot Raw without any shot-to-shot speed penalty (at least the way we were using it), we didn't feel we were giving up our post processing options. It was easy to slip into a pocket to take anywhere when we'd put the bag away for the day, another big advantage. The only issue we had with it was the zoom was not quite long enough. But if it had been long enough, it wouldn't have fit in our pocket.
When we were getting wet, we were glad to have the TX10. We knew we could keep shooting without jeopardizing the camera. And we could take shots you just don't normally get with a more delicate camera. The images were excellent, too. Scanning through the 82 keepers, you really can't tell which camera took which picture unless you analyze the subject (there's no mistaking the 1/4 second river shots for a TX10 image).
We had only one battery per camera and only recharged the dSLR battery because the GPS unit was draining it. The other two cameras were well within their CIPA numbers (250 or so shots per charge) and we didn't use flash so we weren't as demanding as CIPA usage is.
And we didn't waste the evening downloading images to a computer and organizing our collection. If we'd been on a longer trip, it would have been inevitable, but it was nice to be able to leave that all for later.
We should have been a plant, we told Rachel, because we really hate to leave anywhere.
But leaving Yosemite has its consolations: a few gorgeous overlooks from which to take some memorable landscapes. We stopped at three: Bridalveil Fall, Tunnel View and Cascade Creek.
Bridalveil Fall is almost a stage setting, with the Merced River the orchestra pit, the meadow the stage and the granite walls of the valley the wings. And with the big snow melt, the waterfall itself was bold and beautiful.
Tunnel View gave us our last glimpse of Half Dome, with a little cloud on its cap. It had snowed there the day before when it was raining on us at Mirror Lake. So there was a patch of snow on top, too.
At Cascade Creek, we only had enough time to grab a shot of the waterfall behind the bridge. Then we were off on the long ride home through the valley and back to the city.
IMPORTING THE IMAGES
Our grand totals for the three days were 252 shots (Raw+JPEG count as one), of which 157 were taken with the D300, 53 with the E-PL1 and 42 with the TX10. We also took four HD movies with the TX10, none with the E-PL1 and two 3D shots with the TX10.
We took 52 shots on Saturday when we arrived, 106 on Sunday (a full day, despite the rain) and 94 on Monday, departure day. Our 82 favorite shots turned out to be 51 by dSLR, 15 by Micro Four Thirds and 16 by digicam. Lightroom automatically reports these stats from the Filter menu.
Our first task when we got back to the bunker was to transfer the images. Each camera required a slightly different approach:
While the connection was different for all three cards, the import software was all the same: Image Capture running an AppleScript that added our copyright to each JPEG and converted the Raw files to DNG. We can optionally delete the Raws but this time we kept them to work with them in Optics Pro, which doesn't support DNG as an import format.
- The TX10 images were captured on a folding SD/USB card. So we just folded it and plugged it into a USB extension cable to make the transfer.
- The E-PL1 images were on an Eye-Fi card. They took care of themselves.
- And the D300 images were on a 4-GB CompactFlash that went into a FireWire 800 reader for quick transfer.
Our import script gave us three folders of images named for the import date with a descriptive slug, one folder for each camera. But we wanted to separate the images not only by camera but by capture date.
That's where Photo Mechanic came in handy. We threw each folder at it, examined the images and the capture dates and copied the images into new folders named with the capture date and the camera name.
At the same time, we selected the rotated images and rotated the JPEG to match the correct orientation, something we routinely do for Web display.
As always, Photo Mechanic was quick. It showed us the thumbnails quickly, selected them quickly, rotated them quickly and copied them quickly. We've tried the new version of Media Pro from Phase One but it just isn't as, well, quick.
But Photo Mechanic orients its display by folder. And we were ready for a show. So we imported everything into Lightroom, sorted by capture date. That was surprisingly quick, too.
You need some sort of front end to quickly look over your imported images. And certainly Lightroom itself offers that. Not to mention Bridge for Photoshop users. But this is one part of the process in which we really value being independent of any "system."
We want our images arranged in folders named in the "CCYY.MM.DD Slug" format (yes, you can use periods in a folder name) so they sort in order and we can find them by date or subject using no more than the operating system.
That lets us get to them easily from any application. And, as you'll see, we use a few.
With all the images copied to the computer and arranged in folders with meaningful names, we're ready to file them away forever.
You wanted to print a few first? Or email some? Or post a handful?
So do we, but the first thing to do is back everything up. Then even an accident can't hurt.
We use two immediate external backups:
At the same time, we have a network backup utility running to make a third copy to another networked drive. That doesn't take any intervention by us (Time Machine does it) but it isn't immediate.
- The first is to a shared hard drive attached to a USB hub that is plugged into our router. Any computer on our network can see that drive and look at the photos.
- The second is to another networked drive attached to our router via Ethernet, so it's a bit faster.
We also make two archival backups to DVD. One of those is stored off site in case the bunker we work in somehow disappears. We burn these when we get around to it on a monthly basis. They're the permanent backup. But even then, every five years, we make fresh copies before they can deteriorate.
With the photos copied to several other places (and still on the memory cards), we're ready to fool around a little.
Our playground for that is Lightroom. You can see your photo collection at a glance and quickly view it by camera or date or any other metadata. And when one image catches your eye, you can focus on it easily, applying any preset to change the look quickly or fiddle with sliders to manually tweak it.
There's a lot more you can do, but that's all we need it for on a shoot like this.
The first step is importing the images. We use a metadata preset with copyright information if we haven't already added it. And we enter a keyword to identify the shoot.
We then select all the folders we want to import and before we can blink our eyes, the thumbnails are arrayed across our screen in the Library module. We made a Collection of these 252 images so we can see just them no matter what else is in our library of images.
Then we explore the Collection much as we explored the valley itself.
This concludes "A Visit to Yosemite." We had almost as much fun putting it together as we did hiking around the floor of the valley. It brought us back to the years we spent putting out a weekly magazine with scissors, rubber cement and a ruling pen.
This may be the end of the book, but it's just the beginning of things for our images.
As you've noticed going through the book, all of these images were edited. A large selection were first improved with Lightroom's global edits. A few were touched up in Photoshop. A few others were enhanced in DxO Optics Pro.
All for the sake of this publication and a small slide show we put on our Apple TV to share with family and friends who visit.
But there's a lot more imaging to mine here.
The dramatic skies of some of our shots cry out for conversion to black and white images. We think it would be great fun to apply some luminosity masking to them to see what pops out.
That works for color images, too, though. And it would be exciting to recast a few color images for printing. We'd particularly like to see 13x19s of the Happy Isles images with weathered wood sharply defined against quickly moving water.
Choosing a paper would be interesting, too. Should we use a mat photo rag or a semi-gloss finish?
And we've got a portrait or two to frame, too.
In a sense, now that the shots have all been taken, copied, backed up, catalogued and prepped, the real fun of revisiting Yosemite begins. Spending a few fabulous hours turning a favorite image (or three) from our stash of Yosemite images into something like those Charles Cramer's lyrical landscapes we enjoyed at the start of this adventure.
Why, who knows, we could probably write a book about that, too.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/PENTAXQ/PENTAXQA.HTM on the Web site.)
It wasn't long ago I had the pleasure of running around town with one of the largest interchangeable lens cameras on the market, the Pentax 645D. It was big, but handled well, with excellent optics and a very high-resolution sensor.
Today the contrast was dramatic, carrying the very tiny Pentax Q, a small interchangeable lens camera. The experience was very different, but it was still a Pentax, a company that's pushing beyond lots of boundaries lately.
The Pentax Q has smaller optics and a smaller, lower-resolution sensor. Indeed, it's so small it fits in a pocket and conceals easily in a palm -- or behind an iPhone. It could even hang from a keychain, were it not worthy of better daily care than that.
Although we don't expect a 1/2.3-inch sensor to compete with comparably priced dSLRs and Compact System Cameras, we're impressed with the execution on the Pentax Q and see signs that it will likely rival quality enthusiast cameras like the Canon G12, albeit at a $300 price premium for the luxury of interchangeable lenses.
IN THE FIELD
Though it works well enough to get our preliminary lab shots, the prerelease Pentax Q we received for preview was still a little rough in its operation for reliable use in the field, so we'll have to confine our comments to the fit and basic utility of the Q.
As someone who's used to handling everything from the smallest pocket cameras to the largest pro SLRs, I have no problem adapting to the small size of the Pentax Q. Its small buttons are familiar and easy to use, with each working as I expect; indeed the buttons work better than some of the small cameras we review. Though my thumb rests on the AF and Green buttons, I didn't press any of them accidentally as I used the Pentax Q.
As it should be, the Mode dial is stiffer than the Jog dial in the back. Both are easy to access, but you want the Mode dial to stay put most of the time, while the rear dial should give to gentle pressure to allow quick settings changes and zooming in and out of photographs in Playback mode. Excellent design there, design that also looks cool.
I also found the front Quick dial to have potential. In addition to assigning Smart Effects to the four settings, you can choose to dial in Custom Image settings, Digital Filters or choose among the four different aspect ratios: 16:9, 3:2, 4:3 and 1:1. The filters weren't working properly when I tried them, but changing aspect ratios was easy enough, showing the value of such a dial.
Lenses snick on and off of the Pentax Q just as they do on any other quality system camera with metal mounts, which is nice. I shouldn't say lenses, though, because we've only received the one 8.5mm lens, which I remove mostly to look again on that little sensor and incredibly short flange back distance (the space between the lens and sensor) and feel the quality of the mount's interface. In fact, there's nothing cheap feeling about the Pentax Q. It's all pretty solid and well-made. In the hand it feels rock solid, more so than any pocket camera of recent memory, even more than the Canon S90. The Pentax Q's magnesium alloy body is obviously the cause.
You don't really grip the Pentax Q, you pinch it gently between your two middle fingers and your thumb. For me, it rides high in my hand, with my right ring finger propping it up from underneath the front panel. It's very easy to shoot only one-handed, though of course we always recommend using two. That's fairly easy as well, thanks to the large open area for the left hand, though I did find my finger entering some of the shots when I was shooting with the camera turned vertically to the right. Bring two comparatively large hands together on a small camera and that'll happen now and then.
Of course the real story of using the Pentax Q is in how it performs and I just can't talk about that having seen such an early unit. I managed to have fun with it and there's no question it's a serious camera, complete with the Manual and semi-auto controls photographers prefer. Missing from the experience was actually switching lenses for various subjects, but the 47mm equivalent lens was sufficient, as I like shooting with one focal length. I was occasionally surprised, though, when subjects I've shot recently most often with 24 and 28mm lenses were more tightly framed, requiring that I step back. So few APS-C cameras offer the equivalent of a Normal lens, I'm just not used to shooting that way these days.
Post-announcement, there were plenty of interesting comments and criticisms of the Pentax Q. The main point of contention: why they chose such a small sensor. I'd been wondering the same thing for months. (Anyone watching the rumor sites knows that the photos of what was called the Pentax NC-1 were circulating for several months and while the name was not correct, the images were absolutely right.)
I can't disagree with those who wouldn't want a small-sensor compact system camera for their purposes; for their purposes, they're right. But once I held the Pentax Q, all of that concern went away. I think it's mostly the build quality, as I've said, that changed my mind. My ultimate determination, of course, will come down to image quality. I'm all for toy lenses and creative photography if that's your thing, but at $800, a camera had better be able to take a crisp image when you need it to.
While I understand the criticism, I think it largely misses the point. Because the Pentax Q is properly described as a Compact System Camera, people automatically compare it to the existing Micro Four Thirds and APS-C competition on the market. In that comparison, though the Pentax Q is indeed smaller, its small sensor means that image quality is unlikely to rise to the level we've seen from these larger-sensor cameras. Point taken.
But at this size, the Pentax Q has another list of more relevant competitors, namely the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000, both quite a bit larger and the Canon S95 and Panasonic LX5.
A large number of professional and enthusiast photographers have decided that the tradeoff of a smaller sensor is worth it for the compactness and simplicity found in these otherwise serious camera designs. These four cameras have one point of potential superiority over the Pentax Q, that of sensor size. Three offer a 1/1.7" sensor and the Panasonic's is 1/1.63," both of which are larger than the Q's 1/2.3" sensor.
Their point of inferiority, though, is their reliance on built-in zoom lenses, which cannot be exchanged for lenses of different types or quality. This is the second compromise photographers make when shooting these high-end compacts, because zoom lenses almost always include flaws somewhere along their zoom range and their motorized zoom mechanisms can be too slow and inaccurate when compared to the physical zoom rings on a CSC or dSLR.
When compared to these cameras, the Pentax Q is smaller than any and has the advantage of interchangeable lenses, some of which in theory could be of higher quality, with greater sharpness in the corners and less chromatic aberration (again, we won't be able to say this for sure without testing a shipping version).
I do think the optics will need to show some prowess to be taken seriously, but I can't overstate the value of having a small system camera when you want to travel light and this is the smallest of system cameras at this point. Traveling with a Micro Four Thirds camera, I can cover a lot greater focal range in a tiny space than I can with either of my APS-C dSLRs; and the four high-end pocket cameras mentioned above also can't compete in zoom range.
Pentax will need to ship a longer telephoto zoom to match what I get with an E-PL2 and a 14-150mm (28-300mm eq.) lens, but the potential is there, thanks to the Q-mount. And because of the smaller sensor, long focal-length Q-mount lenses will be much smaller than even Micro Four Thirds vendors will be able to produce.
The four high-end pocket cameras I mentioned range from $400 to $500, another point in their favor. But is $300 really that much more to gain the option to switch lenses? Certainly for some, but those enthusiasts out there buying accessory lenses, special brackets and other multi-hundred dollar accessories to enhance their otherwise compact camera might not think so. The Pentax Q wasn't made for most people, even most enthusiasts, but it is made for some.
For most enthusiasts photography is a hobby. Some enthusiasts get so deep into the speeds and feeds they forget this and are the first to decry a camera like the Pentax Q. That's fine and part of the hobby, frankly: comparing, measuring, ranting and ultimately preferring this or that. We cater to them, happily so. But I'd like to remind enthusiasts like myself that it is a hobby and if we're not having fun, what are we doing?
What I like about Pentax is that they seem to understand this. Photography is fun. I get the sense that they're having fun, too, pursuing the art of making cameras that are fun to use, plenty capable and yet novel. While of course they're in business to make money, their bold, photographer-centric -- and often hobbyist-centric moves tell me that it's not their only motivating factor. I like that.
Suffice it to say I've seen enough that I look forward to getting a production version of the Pentax Q. I love using quality cameras regardless of their size, but the trend toward smaller compact system cameras and quality pocket cameras has me intrigued. I still use my SLRs for more serious work, but I always grab a smaller CSC or pocket camera when heading out on the town, so I'm very happy camera companies continue to make more serious compact cameras for the enthusiast market.
By MICHAEL R. TOMKINS, News Editor
Olympus Imaging America Inc. has announced not one, not two, but three new models for its PEN series of compact system cameras and we've just published hands-on previews of two of the three; first up, the Olympus P3.
The Olympus PEN E-P3 follows in the footsteps of 2009's E-P2, assuming the flagship position in the PEN-series lineup. While body size and styling is very similar to that of its predecessor, the Olympus P3 sports a number of significant changes. Key among these is likely its new high-speed contrast detection autofocus system, dubbed "Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology" autofocus. Thanks to a doubling of sensor readout to 120 fps, plus even more processing power and refined algorithms, the new CDAF system is said to rival the company's phase detection module in the E-5 dSLR for speed.
As well as truly swift autofocus, the Olympus P3 gains a new generation TruePic VI image processor, a new image processor with unchanged 12.3-megapixel resolution, but improved sensitivity and low-light performance, three-inch Organic LED screen with touch screen user interface and a built-in popup flash, among other changes.
More detail on the Olympus P3 can be found in our hands-on preview of the camera: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP3/EP3A.HTM
Alongside its new flagship P3 model, Olympus has also unveiled two further PEN-series cameras: the Olympus PL3 (for which we've just published a hands-on preview) and the svelte Olympus PM1. Both cameras share many features with each other and indeed, with the P3 alongside which they're announced, but there are also numerous features that differentiate between the models.
The Olympus PL3 is the company's first PEN-series model to include a tilting LCD panel, capable of being viewed low to the ground or at waist-level when tilted upwards or of shooting over a crowd when tilted downwards. While it lacks any provision for viewing from in front of the camera, there's no question that it makes the PL3 a significantly more versatile design. Note though that a traditional LCD panel is used, rather than the more vivid OLED panel that features in the P3.
The standout feature of the Olympus PM1, meanwhile, is its focus on trimming size and weight to a bare minimum. It doesn't quite reach into the same territory as the recently-announced Pentax Q, but that's hardly surprising given that it sports a sensor with roughly eight times the surface area.
That it even comes close shows how much effort Olympus has put into reducing size and weight (and, to some extent, the challenge Pentax faced in reducing body size while still retaining a usable camera.) Overall, the Olympus PM1 is approximately 12 millimeters wider, 6mm taller and 3mm thicker than the Pentax camera and 67 grams (approx. 34 percent) heavier when loaded and ready to go, but without a lens attached.
Both the Olympus PL3 and PM1 feature the same 12.3-Mp image sensor, TruePic VI image processor and high-speed "Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology" autofocus system as in the simultaneously announced P3 model.
For more on the Olympus PEN E-PL3, read our hands-on preview (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EPL3/EPL3A.HTM). While we've not yet had the opportunity to handle the Olympus PEN E-PM1, we've also prepared detailed coverage of that model, as well (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EPM1/EPM1A.HTM).
NEW LENSES, ACCESSORIES
Olympus also announced two powerful, fast new prime lenses and two new accessories to maximize the performance of the Olympus PEN E-P3, E-PL3 and E-PM1 compact system cameras.
The M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f2.0 lens (24mm equivalent) and M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens (90mm equivalent) are Movie and Still Compatible and feature high-speed, near-silent autofocus during still shooting and high-definition video capture.
Joining them is the sleek, versatile FL-300R CompactFlash and the MCG-2 interchangeable Camera Grip available exclusively for the PEN E-P3.
Read more about all four here: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1309410010.html
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Panasonic 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S. LUMIX G Vario (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=1336)
- Previewed: Olympus E-P3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP3/EP3A.HTM)
- Previewed: Olympus E-PL3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EPL3/EPL3A.HTM)
- Previewed: Pentax Q (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/PENTAXQ/PENTAXQA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1344/cat/83)
Somehow the idea that the more we can tell you about taking shots of fireworks the better has plagued expertisti in this line of work for a long, long time. Trying to remember everything isn't really feasible.
Naively hoisting your camera up to the night sky doesn't work either, though.
We've tried both approaches. And been equally disappointed in each. So this year, we thought we'd ask just what are the essential things to know.
We've boiled it down to two things. And a half.
Any shot, after all, has to deal with two things: focus and exposure. On a sunlit afternoon, you can trust the camera to handle both automatically. It's point and shoot, baby.
But they're both a problem for fireworks. So here's what you do:
Both of these tidbits are technically sound but on your camera they may be impossible to actually do. Or difficult to find out how to do. Or just inconvenient in the dark (which is why one of the best tips in the longer lists is to bring a flashlight or at least your cell phone).
- Set focus to infinity. There's nothing in the big black sky for your autofocus system to distinguish and focus on. Forget it. And you won't be close enough to the fireworks to set focus on anything but infinity. It's infinity.
- Way underexpose. You aren't shooting the black sky, even if that's what your meter sees before the shot. You're shooting the streaks of light. And they're bright. So ignore the meter.
So the half tip (which is really all you have to remember) is to use Fireworks mode in your Scene mode.
You may never use Scene modes because there are two dozen of them and who remembers what they all do, but this is one occasion where a Scene mode does things you can't easily do on a digicam.
Our June 24, 2005 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) has a feature story on "Getting Creative With Fireworks" that also cites News Editor Michael Tomkins' classic checklist (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/994267307.html) if you want more.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee9b16a
Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f773
Read the Plustek OpticFilm 7600i scanner discussion at: http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eeaf816
Read about Canon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=4
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b8
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RE: Ah, Yosemite!
I am enjoying your Yosemite series very much. Especially that a team member is carrying a Nikon D70! (There is a function in the software where you can nullify the sensor dust particles by the way). I will be very curious how this old dinosaur's images stack up against all the new hardware. I bought my D70 in the mid-90's and can't seem to find a good reason to put it out to pasture.
-- Kevin Anderson(Yeah, we couldn't google anything without our electronic gear <g>, so we had to fall back on our survival skills and blow the dust out. We believe, though, that the D70 only takes a dust reference photo. It doesn't actually shake the sensor filter. And he had a big old blob on there (he showed us). But we expect his images to be first rate. We're sure there are a lot of D70s (and D40s for that matter) still in harness. And with good reason. One of the points of our discussion with Casey about ISO, aperture and shutter, was to point out what's essential. You aren't much handicapped by an older dSLR on those points. -- Editor)
I always enjoy your stories, Mike! In part two of Yosemite, you missed an opportunity to plug one of your sponsors; "She loves her Rebel, she said, but wants to take a class to learn more about it. 'It has so many settings,' she observed."
What a perfect time to mention Peter iNova's ebooks! When I bought my Nikon D70 years ago, I also bought the iNova ebook for it (through your link of course). It helped me learn how to use my new camera (as expected) but it also taught me something about Photoshop I had never really understood before; the use of adjustment layers. The ebook explained it in just the right way that it all made sense. I have since saved many a picture where the flash burned out the foreground while you could barely see the background! A levels layer or two combined with a gradient erase usually does the trick for me. :-)
-- Janet Kukec(As Peter put it, "I've decided not to pursue individual camera eBooks." He was outnumbered. But you're right that they're regardless of which camera is dissected. The early chapters cover the basics very clearly. Visit http://www.vimeo.com/25341550 to see what's Peter is up to these days (the Steadicam Merlin on an iPad). -- Editor)
When will we be able to see some of the great images you captured in Yosemite?
-- Stan Kukawka(The ebook is available now, Stan, at http://www.mikepasini.com/yosemite/ebook.php -- coinciding with the last excerpt above. That's the only place we'll be publishing them, although we just may follow it up with a Revisiting Yosemite ebook, discussing what we're doing with those images after we captured them. And, who knows, a print or two for sale is not inconceivable. Nice big 13x19s. But first, we'll have to make a few to decorate the bunker here. -- Editor)
RE: Scanning 120 Film
I am looking to buy a scanner that will handle 6 x7 (2-1/4 x 2-3/4 inches) negatives. I was considering the Canoscan 9000 F model until I was told by a Canon tech representative that the film holder for that model will accommodate only the square 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inch format. Do you have any suggestions?
-- Alan Model(Good question, Alan. The Epson V700/V750 uses a 120 film holder that does not mark frames (open for the whole width). You could also buy a similar holder for the 9000F (http://www.betterscanning.com/scanning/canon8xxx.html). -- Editor)
RE: Super Mega Long Zooms
I look forward with interest to your review of the Sony HX100V.
For old blokes like me who are beyond the stage of carrying a dSLR and a host of lenses, the all-in-one super zoom cameras are very appealing.
What would be useful in comparing the units would be images of resolution type objects at maximum zoom using (i) a tripod with stabilization off and (ii) a monopod with stabilization on.
-- Don Fitzgerald(The lab shots do show a resolution target and there is a series taken at both wide angle and telephoto (on a tripod) of a second target. Our world-famous image stabilization tests compare the results of IS and non-IS shooting, but it's been a while since we've had a new one. -- Editor)
Ricoh and Hoya have announced "the two companies entered into a definitive agreement and concluded a contract regarding the acquisition of Hoya Corporation's Pentax Imaging Systems Business by Ricoh." According to the joint press release, "The goal of the Acquisition is to establish a firmer presence in the consumer business, which has been a considerable challenge for Ricoh." The acquisition is expected to be completed by October.
Lytro (http://www.lytro.com) made everyone sit up and notice when it announced its digicam-class camera using a microlens array to capture light fields will let you focus after capturing the shot when it is released later this year. The company said the camera can also be used to create 3D images, too.
Google has added Search by Image for the desktop: http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/06/search-by-text-voice-or-image.html
Bob Rosinsky (http://topdogimaging.net/blog/restoring-a-photograph-from-the-1870s) shows how he restored a tintype from the 1870s without using a scanner.
Photo games site Phoozl.com (http://www.phoozl.com) has launched the Summer edition of its Alphabetography Photo Challenge: the Four Seasons contest on Facebook. The Summer challenge runs until Aug. 7 at http://apps.facebook.com/alphabetography (requires a Facebook account and "allowing" the Request for Permission screen).
Snapfish (http://www.snapfish.com) sports a redesigned organizer that shows albums by date range, face recognition on upload for tagging, enlarged thumbnail size and easier sharing.
LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.95 Photo to Movie 5.0 [MW] with new photo layouts, background effects, timeline markers for audio and photos, marker effects, better aspect ratio controls for keyframes and restoration of the voice recorder.
B&H has published an extensive Wedding Photography Guide (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/landing-pages/wedding-photography).
FeroXsoft (http://www.feroxsoft.com) has released its $20 iPhoto Batch Enhancer 3.1.1 to apply settings from the iPhoto Effects palette and Adjust palette to a batch of selected photos.
Ohanaware (http://www.ohanaware.com) has released its $29.99 HDRtist Pro 1.0.3 [M] with faster generation, faster Raw Splitting, improved Color Profile support, extra documentation on using the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4 to capture multiple exposures and bug fixes.
FotoMaps (http://www.fotomaps.net) is a photo gallery built with flash and XML that lets you put your photos on a map. Choose any map you like, then place each photo at the exact location where it was taken.
Todd Heisler rediscovers his father's Kodachromes (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/a-fathers-voice-through-kodachrome/) and "a posthumous lesson in photography and family history."
Speaking of Kodachrome, DxO (our Optics Pro review is just getting some final touches) does offer a clever little application called FilmPack (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/indepth/landing-pages/wedding-photography) that renders your JPEG into Kodakchrome 25, 64 and 200 (in addition to color negative and black and white emulsion treatments. We'll have that review shortly, too. Meanwhile it's one way to keep shooting Kodachrome.
Akvis (http://akvis.com) has released its $39 MakeUp v1.0 [MW] to automatically smooth small skin defects.
DxO has revamped DxO Mark (http://www.dxomark.com) with an enhanced user interface making it easier to find reports and social tools to make it easier to share what you find.
X-Rite (http://www.xritephoto.com) has announced that between June 20 and Sept. 30, you can receive up to $40 cash back when you trade in your old monitor calibration system towards a new X-Rite ColorMunki Display or i1Display Pro solution.
Tenba (http://www.tenba.com) has announced its $136.95 lightweight Discovery Photo/Hydration Daypack that fits up to two dLR bodies, four to six lenses, flash and accessories, plus a hydration reservoir up to 72 ounces.
Blurb (http://www.blurb.com) has released a book layout plug-in for Adobe InDesign CS3/4/5 to easily generate Blurb page and cover templates within InDesign and improve the export and PDF-to-Book upload process.
KB Covers (http://www.kbcovers.com) is adding a Lightroom keyboard cover to its Photoshop line. The color-coded covers are washable aides to the extensive keyboard commands of these work horse applications.
The free JAlbum 9.5 (http://jalbum.net) [LMW] adds memory card detection, avoids copying old files from camera memory cards with a small database on each card, better handling of files dropped from iPhoto and Photoshop Elements and other more.
Rift Labs (http://riftlabs.com) is "building a next-generation light for video and photography."
Lens and EinesTages (loosely translated as Once Upon a Time), a Spiegel Online site, simultaneously published posts asking readers to help find out who had created the Nazi-era photo album on display. In a few hours the mystery was solved (http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/22/world-war-ii-mystery-solved-in-a-few-hours/?hp).
Leica Camera AG has published Magnum Photographer Alex Majoli's multimedia essay about his life as a young gondolier in Venice. A video on the making of the portfolio is at http://bit.ly/M_Venice and an interview with Majoli is at http://magnum.leica-camera.com.
Rocky Nook (http://www.rockynook.com) has published Sascha Steinhoff's $34.95 The VueScan Bible, "the missing manual for both new and experienced users of VueScan." The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 42 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952695/?tag=theimagingres-20).
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Enjoy "A Visit to Yosemite" at http://mikepasini.com/yosemite/ebook.php
That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher