|Volume 14, Number 14||13 July 2012|
Welcome to the 336th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We get all tangled in sliding straps while Andrew puts on Canon's new 40mm pancake and Shawn gets giddy over an Olympus 75mm for Micro Four-Thirds. Prime stuff.
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/straps/index.htm on the Web site.)
After our review of the Custom SLR M-Plate Pro (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/customslr-mplate/index.htm), in which we tried the company's lightweight Glide Strap, we heard from several strap designers.
"Try our strap!" they all suggested.
While we found the Glide Strap comfortable and functional, we're not a fan of straps. We liked them just fine when we shot with them in the bunker for this review but we were never comfortable transporting a camera with them. Getting in and out of a car or bus, say, or hiking up a hill carpeted in tall grass, quickly reveal the problem.
We've solved that by using a holster bag (like the Lowepro TLZ1 or, for larger gear, the Think Tank Digital Holster 40) or a small camera bag (like the Think Tank Retrospective 5 or the somehow unretirable Domke) for transport. That has the added advantage of hiding the camera from view in public, a safety concern of ours. When we take the camera from the bag, we use a small wrist strap from UPstrap we can easily share among our cameras (see the March 23, 2012 issue of the Newsletter).
But if you find yourself in one locale in which you have to continually pick up and put down the camera, a strap lets you leave it at your side and quickly slide it into action like nothing else.
That's because, as BosStrap inventor Tom Fama puts it, "Sliding sling straps use a special fitting that moves along the diagonal strap, not requiring the strap itself to move." It's a smooth, effortless glide to your eye.
We find that a little more convenient if slightly less secure than the pin and holster arrangements we reviewed in the April 8, 2011 Newsletter.
So the usefulness of a strap depends on how you shoot. That's the first lesson.
Besides the Glide Strap, we tried several other straps. Here's the full list:
We didn't test the simple but popular $60 Sun-Sniper (http://www.sunsnipershop.com/shopping_cart.php/cat/c32_SNIPER-STRAP--THE-ONE-.html). If you're shopping, add it to your list. It has probably the simplest connector to the camera.
- BosStrap G3 (http://www.bosstrap.com/bosstrapgeneration3slidingslingstrapsystem.aspx) $47.95
- BlackRapid RS-Sport (http://www.blackrapid.com/product/camera-strap/rs-sport/) $69.95
- BlackRapid RS-W1 for women (http://www.blackrapid.com/product/camera-strap/rs-w1/) $58.59
- Custom SLR Glide Strap with C-Loop (http://www.customslr.com/products/glide-strap) $64.95
- Cotton Carrier StrapShot (http://www.cottoncarrier.com/cotton-carrier-accessories/cotton-carrier-strapshot/) $79
One thing immediately stood out. With the exception of the BlackRapid RS straps, documentation was poor.
You might wonder just how tough it is to sling a strap across your chest and screw a bolt into the tripod socket of your camera or attach the BosStrap to the camera eyelet. But there are slide limiters to figure out and other issues that could be clarified with a simple instruction sheet.
The straps come with at least one limiter or bumper that prevents the slide from continuing along the strap. That limiter is handy behind the slide to prevent the camera from getting behind your back. It's not a lot of help up front because you want the camera to slide up your chest. But a front limiter with a rear limiter can "lock" the camera on the strap so it doesn't slide. But it will still swing around.
Annoyingly enough, the most convenient hanging position (or strap length) always seemed to let the camera LCD rub against the grommets of our jeans. Ideally, you'd like the camera's left side (without the grip) to fall against you, leaving the grip exposed for you to grab.
You might think a sliding strap is a good solution for having more than one camera at the ready. We found that a little more than awkward. There are two-camera harnesses around and Cotton Carrier offers a more customizable approach. But two sliders is not a good idea.
While not immediately apparent, there was another issue that struck us. These things are not inexpensive. And a quick price comparison suggests why. The BosStrap, which does not require a metal tripod mount, is the least expensive. Models that use a machined mounting device nearly double the cost.
Finally, these straps may not look like it but they're all are designed to handle heavy gear. A full frame dSLR with a long zoom lens, say. They aren't in any sense restricted to such use but that seems to increase their utility.
So let's take a closer look at the price leader, the BosStrap G3. It consists of a one and half inch wide sling strap (the widest) and a G3 (third generation) BosTail tail that attaches to a camera eyelet.
The G3 tail can be detached from the strap. That addresses our transport concern to some extent. You can toss the camera in a bag, leaving the strap on and in fact wrapping around a long lens so it isn't in the way.
The main argument for the BosStrap is that it attaches to an eyelet instead of the tripod socket. We're sympathetic to that argument (we have other things to do with our tripod socket) but not because we believe tripod sockets are weaker than eyelets.
Unfortunately, we found the tail something of a nuisance. Threading eyelets is annoying. And threading eyelets and tails is doubly so. It's true that once attached, you can leave it there.
But if you want to detach the camera from the strap, you do have to slide off the safety sleeve and lift the cam buckle to slip the small strap out. That's a lot more work than releasing the Glide Strap's plastic buckle, for example.
Our quibbles about the tail aside, once you start using the BosStrap, it's pretty handy. We liked the wide, unencumbered, simple strap. It does indeed wrap around a long lens for transport or storage. And the simple chrome slider itself would have been our favorite if it hadn't been bright, shiny chrome. No need to get fancy with pads or limiters.
CUSTOM SLR GLIDE STRAP
The lightweight Glide Strap with the C-Loop uses a split strap design and a compact tripod mount that swivels easily. The C-Loop itself is nicely machined but uses two metal loops to attach to a rather complex buckle that ties onto a mounting screw with a folding handle you use to screw it into the tripod mount.
That complex buckle, though, makes it possible to detach your camera from the strap. The detachable buckle (just squeeze to release) has two small straps attached to it that go to each end of the mounting screw.
The mounting screw does occupy the tripod socket but Custom SLR has developed a plate system that accommodates both the mounting screw and a quick release tripod mount.
The split strap can ride on you shoulder at two different angles without biting into your shoulder. It also has some traction on the underside to prevent slipping. Oddly, it includes two plastic snaps to attach the belt to the ends of the pad. We suspect that's just a manufacturing solution because there's really no need for them in use.
The Glide Strap works fine even if it looks a little like Rube Goldberg was a design consultant. And it's lightweight, which we appreciated.
COTTON CARRIER STRAPSHOT
The StrapShot is unusual. Like other Cotton Carrier products, it relies on the Cotton hub and insert design. The insert attaches to the tripod socket on your camera and slides into the hub sideways. When you turn the camera 90 degrees to face down, the camera locks into the hub.
So there's no sliding with this model. Instead, the hub is mounted on a pad with a strap system that can be attached to a backpack or a Cotton Carrier vest.
Since you don't slide the camera, you detach it from the hub to shoot. But when mounted in the hub it's secure enough you won't feel the need to detach it during transport.
The trick is attaching it to something.
We asked Cotton Carrier just how it works and they replied, "It wraps around your backpack/sling bag strap and then tethers into the top of the bag to prevent the camera from slipping down the strap."
So you screw the mounting piece into the camera's tripod socket and put that down. Then you wrap the StrapShot hub (which sits in a 3x6-inch pad) around one of your backpack's straps. To keep it from slipping, you tie the top end to something above it on your backstrap.
We gave it the old college try on a Lowepro 150 AW video pack. The straps snug right up under our arms, which doesn't leave much room for a StrapShot. The illustrations on the Cotton Carrier site show the strap riding much closer to the center of your chest than our backpack strap does.
So we were mounting the camera a bit too close to our face for comfort. And it wasn't a large camera either.
We have no problem with the Cotton Carrier vest, which mounts the camera on your chest, but this arrangement with the StrapShot seemed a lot less comfortable. You can blame us for how we mounted it, if you like.
Compared to the other models, the BlackRapid RS looks overbuilt. But then it's designed for more action. The $69.95 RS-Sport 2 is a lighter version which includes one ConnectR-2 and one FastenR-3. You can buy additional FastenR-3s for other camera bodies.
The strap is constructed in several parts included a form-fitted padded shoulder piece that includes an accessory loop. There's also a small secondary safety strap that goes under your arm to keep the main strap in place.
It's designed to go over your left shoulder. The other straps don't insist on that but it's the most convenient arrangement anyway, considering the camera grip is on the right side of the camera.
The $11.95 ConnectR-2 connector itself is an attractive, polished metal construction of several pieces. A loop attaches (and is meant to remain attached) to the R-Strap, a triangular hook swivels where it attaches to the loop and opens to accept the $13.95 FastenR-3 round screw with a rubber gasket. BlackRapid suggests wetting the rubber gasket before tightening to make a better secure connection.
You can lock the triangular hook closed by twisting a small sleeve on the opening. So with this model, too, the camera can be detached for transport. Not quite as quickly as the Glide Strap's buckle, but fast enough.
Wearing the RS-Sport you feel well enough strapped up to take a space walk. With the limiters and the secondary safety strap, the camera is less likely to walk off without you, too.
The W1 model has been designed to more comfortably fit the female figure by curving along the neck and dropping straight down the chest rather than crossing the left breast directly or pressing against it like the StrapShot.
You'd think a gentleman who shares camera bodies with a lady would just opt for this model so both of them could use it. But BlackRapid has made the shoulder pad daintier and even embroidered some frilly patterns on it (which you can avoid with the W1B model). We tried it on ourselves but it really didn't fit.
Same strap and mounting hardware, though.
Were we browsing in a camera shop, we wouldn't be able to tell by looking which of these straps we'd prefer. But oddly enough, even after using them for a while here, no preference established itself (except the W1 was too small for us).
They are different, no doubt about it. The straps vary in width and construction, some are padded, one split. The sliders are differently constructed using various materials from metal to plastic. Even the mounting hardware varied from tripod mounts to an eyelet mount.
But these are differences that, well, don't really matter.
Sure, you may prefer the split strap over a single belt or the wide single belt you can wrap around your lens to one that uses limiters. You may prefer the buckle release to the hook. You may prefer a metal slider to a plastic one. You may prefer a padded shoulder pad to a bare strap.
You may be one of those people who can argue all night about this stuff. But they do the job, keeping your camera handy and getting it quickly to shooting position.
By ANDREW ALEXANDER(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1523/cat/10 on the Web site.)
Launched with the Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i camera, the EF 40mm f2.8 STM is a tiny "pancake" lens compatible with all of Canon's professional and consumer dSLR cameras. On Canon's APS-H cameras the lens will provide an equivalent field of view of 52mm and on its APS-C cameras it provides an equivalent field of view of 64mm.
A lens hood is available for the 40mm lens (model #ES-52) but it is an optional accessory. The lens takes 52mm filters and is available now for around $200.
On both sub-frame and full-frame bodies, the Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM provides very sharp results.
Mounted on the sub-frame 7D, the lens provides excellent corner-to-corner sharpness, especially when used wide-open at f2.8. Stopped down to f4, the corners get very slightly softer, while the center gets very slightly sharper and it stays more or less like this stopped down all the way through to f8. In this case, "very slightly" is just that -- you'd probably only notice the differences shooting test charts. In practical usage, it will look quite sharp at any aperture. On the 7D, diffraction limiting sets in by f11, but you won't notice any impact until f16 (or even f22), where generalized softness is evident across the frame.
On the full-frame 1Ds mark III, the lens performs a little differently. Used wide open at f2.8, the central region of the frame is quite sharp, but corners are a little soft. Stopping down to f4 or smaller completely alleviates the corner softness and while we wouldn't qualify the results as tack sharp across the frame, they are quite sharp indeed. Diffraction limiting again sets in at f11 and as on the 7D, you'll notice it more at f16 and f22.
Resistance to chromatic aberration is very good with the EF 40mm f2.8 STM. If it does show up at all in your photographs, it will present as magenta-green fringing in areas of high-contrast and predominantly in the corners of the frame.
Corner shading isn't really an issue when the lens is mounted on the sub-frame 7D. At f2.8, the extreme corners of the frame will be 1/3 EV darker than the center. At any other aperture, corner shading is non-existent.
It's slightly different on the full-frame 1Ds mk III. At f2.8, the corners are almost a full stop darker than the center of the frame. At f4 this alleviates to just a half-stop darker than the center and at any other aperture, corners are 1/3 EV darker than the center.
The Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM is designed very well with regard to distortion. There is only a slight amount of barrel distortion, evident in the corners. In the worst case the lens is mounted on the 1Ds mk III and we see +0.25 percent distortion.
The EF 40mm f2.8 STM uses a new focusing motor. According to Canon, its "Stepping Motor Technology" allows the lens to smoothly and silently focus. When used with Canon's new EOS Rebel T4i Movie Servo AF feature, it can achieve continuous AF while recording video. In practice the lens is indeed much quieter to focus than previous lenses and is still very quick to focus, taking about one second to go from close focus to infinity. Attached 52mm filters do not rotate during focus operations.
Macro performance is sub-par, but then, this lens is not intended for macro usage. Minimum close-focusing distance is around a foot with a maximum magnification of 0.18x.
BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING
The Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM is small, perhaps the smallest lens Canon has built. Less than an inch deep and around 4 1/2 ounces, it can easily fit into the smallest crook of your camera bag, if not your pants pocket. It doesn't make your dSLR any less pocketable, but it sure makes it a lots less imposing.
The lens itself is finished in Canon's standard matte black texture and has a metal mount and plastic filter threads. The lens has very little in the way of control surfaces; there are two, the focusing ring and a switch to enable or disable autofocus.
The focusing ring is polycarbonate and only 1/8" wide. The STM focusing standard seems to be a fly-by-wire design, as the ring will turn forever in either direction with no increase in resistance to let you know you are at the end of the focusing range. There is some very slight lens extension. The lens will extend by 1/4" as the lens is focused to infinity.
- Canon EF 35mm f2. While starting to show its age (the lens was introduced in 1990) the Canon EF 35mm f2 offers very similar performance to the 40mm. It isn't as small and costs a little more, as well as having an older focusing system. ~$320
- Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II. Used at its widest apertures (f1.8, f2), this lens provides some extreme corner softness. But stopped down to f2.8, it's actually very comparable to the 40mm. ~$120
- Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX DC HSM. It's a fair bit wider than the 40mm and only available for EF-S bodies, but the Sigma provides very good performance. ~$490
It's impressive what Canon has managed to pack into a very small package here. Excellent results for sharpness, CA and distortion and only some corner shading when used wide open on full-frame -- which you could call the "character" of this lens. For the price, it's well worth the money.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/06/30/olympus-75mm-f-1.8-m.zuiko-lens-captivates-editor on the Web site.)
This is the year of the lens, with more drool-worthy optics hitting the street every month. Some of the most exciting lenses are coming out for Micro Four Thirds cameras, effectively packing lots of imaging power into a small package. With the E-M5 still fresh in my mind when the new Olympus 75mm M.Zuiko lens landed in our office, I claimed post-test dibs on the gorgeous glass, hoping to write this little report of my experience.
PICK A CAMERA
With the OM-D E-M5 out of the office for review, the natural choice was my new/old Olympus E-PL1 body, which I nabbed from Amazon/Cameta Camera not long ago for a mere $150 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0037VVWBK/?tag=theimagingres-20). Though the E-PL1 doesn't have the latest models' F.A.S.T. autofocus, its JPEG noise suppression is a little less aggressive, which is better for testing this super-sharp lens. As it turned out, I processed the Raw ORF portraits in Lightroom, so it didn't matter much anyway.
The 75mm M.Zuiko lens is somewhat large on the E-PL1, its big, bright optic threatening to pull in all it can see. Its heft is impressive and its depth imposing, bringing to mind the fine Leica 50mm f1.4 Aspherical I reviewed earlier this year. It's not quite as heavy, but like that lens it reminds me of looking down into a glass of glacier water, with very little to choke your view to the other end.
FOCUS & SPEED
Attached to the camera, the lens focuses noiselessly, thanks to its MSC focusing motor, making it great for stills or movies. The exception is the aperture, which does make a slight sound when opening and closing to adequately preview exposure as the light changes. Surprisingly, though, these changes occur silently when recording movies, so that's a nice plus. The aperture moves a lot more often when attached to the E-PL1 than when it's attached to the more modern E-P3.
In use, the 75mm M.Zuiko is frankly wonderful. It can't focus closer than about three feet (2.76 feet according to our SLRgear.com review at http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1521/cat/14), which is frustrating, because you're going to want to focus on everything with this beauty. I had to learn to keep my distance when framing most of these shots, which enforces a different kind of discipline. Usually I'm challenged to zoom in with my feet, but here you have to step back a bit. Equivalent to a 150mm lens, it's already a requirement to step back to frame most objects and take another step or two to frame people adequately. The surprise is that the lens is so small it's hard to believe it's equivalent to such a long focal length.
It's pretty amazing when you think about it. Add that it's an f1.8 lens and the possibilities for indoor sports, indoor portraits, indoor anything start to open right up.
I walked around town trying to find objects to include in the review. It was mid morning, so the light was good, but most merchants where I normally walk hadn't set out their more interesting objects just yet.
So I shot a lot of flowers and later found some more interesting objects designed to weather the elements posted in front yards. Those are in the gallery at the end on the online version of this piece (http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/06/30/olympus-75mm-f-1.8-m.zuiko-lens-captivates-editor).
Of course I fell into the trap of trying to illustrate what kind of bokeh the 75mm f1.8-MB.Zuiko could deliver, but I've learned to back off on that as well, also shooting at f2.8, f4 and f5.6, often bracketing around these settings to be sure I didn't overdo it. But because this is a smaller sensor, I didn't run into the trouble I've found when shooting with full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III, where my efforts to show bokeh have resulted in grossly out-of-focus images. There was usually just enough focus on a flower to make my point even wide open, leaving luscious bokeh behind.
A lens hood is not included with the Olympus 75mm f1.8-MB.Zuiko. That's a shame and it came up wanting in at least one shot, particularly with the sun still low in the sky. I definitely recommend a lens hood.
Later that day, I switched to portraits, roping in my daughter for yet another photo shoot with a hot camera or, in this case, lens. I captured some incredible detail in her eyes and skin.
I also tried out my Zeus Ringmaster ringlight for a shot or two, but I haven't mastered that one yet. I used it with my other three lights for a more even fill light. Still, the 75mm f1.8 performed beautifully.
Finally, to illustrate that bokeh again, we went out into the back yard and my son held the reflector for that sun-on-the-beach look. This was shot at f1.8. I find it just right, though I was expecting it to be too soft in one eye compared to the other. But only the hair falling off her right shoulder is soft, pleasantly so. And the background -- a deep grassy field in evening sunlight behind her -- is like butter.
I only had moments to make this shot, as my son was late going to bed and we were late for an appointment. I'd have had my young boy hold the reflector about two feet higher, but I'm still pretty pleased with the image considering the time we had.
That's more than enough to show that a photographer with a little more time on his hands could make some incredible images with the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 portrait lens.
(See our technical review of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 lens (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1521/cat/14) on SLRgear.com. -- Editor)
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At http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: A Survey of Sliding Straps (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/straps/index.htm)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ZS20/ZS20A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix AW100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AW100/AW100A.HTM). It's waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and has Nikon's best GPS implementation yet. It even has a compass.
- Reviewed: Canon MX892 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/). With the same color ink set as the MG-series of Canon's photo all-in-ones, snapshot printing was no problem. But we found the MX firmware isn't as photo-friendly as the MG-series machines.
- Reviewed: Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1523/cat/10)
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RE: Step Wedges
Enjoying your newsletter as always. Spotted your "Roll your own step wedge" article. Several months ago (just after I finished my new Develop series), I began to suspect that something might be rotting in there. The extreme highlight protection and recovery in the new 2012 process caused me to start doing a bit of thinking about my use of a gamma-encoded step wedge with the new tools. This lead me down the road of creating a "real" gradient in Raw.
I wrote up some of my preliminary conclusions in a blog posting (http://mulita.com/blog/?p=3358) that might interest you.
And you'll note that since then I have updated the two main tutorials where I use the step wedge, Tutorials 4 and 18, to reflect my new thinking.
In the future, I'll be dissecting my brackets of my new "real" gradient because it is only with a Raw capture that you can really see what's going on in the highlight recovery, compression and preservation of the new process.
-- George Jardine(Great explanation in the blog entry. So the gradient is created by the light fall-off? Or did you also angle the camera further away from the darker end of the board? BTW, you're reminding us to air out our copies of Adams's books (Camera, Negative, Print but also on artificial light and Polaroids) and Bruce Fraser's too, so we'll be prepared. <g> Thanks for the fascinating email. Looking forward to the follow-up blog entry. -- Editor)
Yes, the gradient is created by light fall off. The angle of the camera to the board would not make any difference, if the board were a perfect Lambertian reflector (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambertian_reflectance).
But it's not. Anyway, close enough that all I had to worry about was making sure I didn't have a line-of-sight angle that would have given me a hot spot directly from the light. Lambert also describes how the decreasing reflectivity of the card as decreasing angles of incidence is directly proportional to the cosine of that angle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambert%27s_cosine_law).
Anyway, the camera angle to the board has very little effect on the EV values that reach the camera.
And yes, "airing out the Ansel Adams' books" is exactly what I've been doing! It's an interesting exercise.
P.S. I'm also just about done scripting another free video, to put up there with the B&W video. It's kind of the child of all the research that I did in creating the raw gradient. I'm giving it a unique twist, and that is using Highlights with Whites, and using Shadows with Blacks -- in both directions.
-- George(Can't wait to see it! -- Editor)
Here's the new tutorial (http://mulita.com/blog/?p=3945) on four of the most interesting new controls in Lightroom. It's free, just for the asking.
-- George(Bravo! You're giving the store away, though <g>. -- Editor)
RE: Sony RX100
Have you reviewed the RX100 yet? If so I may have missed the issue.
In Thursday's NY Times, David Pogue called the Sony RX 100 the best compact camera he has ever reviewed! I wondered what you thought of the camera, which will be available in July.
-- Gaines J. David(Yes, we excerpted Shawn's review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-rx100/sony-rx100A.HTM) in the June 15 issue. -- Editor)
Thanks for your prompt reply. Sorry I bothered you with the question, but when I did a search of your site using "Sony RX 100" it drew a blank. I guess that I should have included "DSC" in the search criteria.
(Actually, it's the space in "RX 100" that got you in trouble. The Newsletter search box is a bit more clever (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS) than the site search box in that it will let you enter metacharacters in the search (like "SONY .?+ RX.?100"). That will only search the newsletter text but our New on the Site column includes reviews. -- Editor)
RE: Printing Articles
From time to time I wish to show my customers things that I read in your newsletter. My question is if it is possible to extract just one article for printing, when I try to do it the whole newsletter comes out on paper.
The article I think of at the moment is the one about filters, "To filter or not to filter."
-- Lasse Jansson(Well, if you save the newsletter as a text file, you can simply cut and paste the article into a new file for printing. If you prefer the HTML-formatted version, there are various browser-specific plug-ins to print just a selection of a page. So after installing the one for your browser, you'd select the text you want to print and print the selection. (Just search for "[browser] print selection" using your browser's name for [browser] to find the appropriate plug-in.) -- Editor)
RE: Haze on the Bay
Is there a straightforward way to avoid the haze I see when taking pictures on San Francisco Bay? The Bay is a wonderland of picture opportunities, but for the always present haze. A quick search of the forums didn't offer me a clue.
-- Pete Reque(The simple answer is to use a Haze filter (Haze-2A, for example). A UV filter won't really eliminate the physical haze you can see, blocking only ultraviolet light. We often use a circular polarizer, not particularly for haze, but it does brighten things up around here for us. And that haze is something we're fond of, particularly considering the weather the rest of the nation has been enduring. -- Editor)
RE: Lens Help
I have an opportunity to visit Yosemite etc, in about a month and want to purchase the best zoom for my D-40. I don't have all the savvy needed to wade thru the reviews and advice. I looked closely at the Sgima 105mm and Tamron 25-200mm but can you cut thru the mustard and point me in the right direction? I would hate to spend $800 if I don't have to.
-- Paul J. Brown(For such an important trip, we think we'd skip the purchase all together, Paul, and just rent both of them from Lensrentals (http://www.lensrentals.com). They're really quite different lenses (a mild telephoto prime and a full-range zoom) and we're sure we'd be using both at Yosemite if we had them. -- Editor)(As far as all-in-ones go, you probably won't go wrong with the 18-200mm, though for just a little more, you could hold out for the 18-300mm, which will probably be a better lens. But if you have a specific interest (e.g. macro) then the Sigma 150 would be a great choice, but I can't see Yosemite as a prime macro destination." -- Andrew)
RE: Measuring Ink Usage
I have to echo the thoughts of Lynn on measuring consumables in printer reviews.
Some years ago we purchased the Epson 3800 which performed well for several years until the print head needed repair which was not economical. For our need, which is primarily to print color pictures on glossy paper for the Quilt Kitsets that we sell, the cost of consumables is an overriding factor.
We replaced the 3800 with a 4880 and have not regretted that move.The 220ml ink cartridges are so much cheaper (per ml) than their 80ml counterparts that we'd never consider reverting to a smaller printer like the Epson R3000 that only accommodates the smaller cartridges.
Can you not focus upon a set of standard printing procedures which would generate a useful way of comparing the cost of consumables?
You do this for comparing image quality among cameras and that is what leads me to request an equivalent comparison for the cost of consumables for different printers.
-- John Wolff(Let's untangle two things. (1) The economy of scale you enjoy by using a larger ink tank is one reason both Canon and Epson now offer tanks in their desktop printers rather than the smaller cartridges of earlier printers. No argument there. (2) How much ink one printer uses compared to another is less clear and perhaps not reliably measurable. Even with a set of standard prints, we'd have to remove and weigh the cartridges/tanks. And in a tank system, we would have to factor in the ink remaining in the supply line. More important are screening technologies like gray undercolor removal (which we mention when appropriate). We do print the same images on various printers and usually on the same papers (but not always), much as we shoot the same targets with cameras. But we just haven't devised a reliable way of measuring ink usage. -- Editor)
RE: Three For Three
I always get something out of your newsletter, sometimes three things (#13: the book 1000, time to look, step wedge).
-- Jeff Carter(Thanks, Jeff! In this business, that's as good as hitting a thousand at the All-Star game (which just happened to be played the same day we got your email). But, as Yogi Berra once said about baseball, this business is "ninety percent mental. The other half is physical." So thanks again for encouraging us to step up to the plate again and take a few more swings! -- Editor)
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has announced three low-cost Pixma photo all-in-ones and a new Selphy dye sub printer.
The $129.99 MG4220 Wireless with 2.7-inch LCD and $79.99 MG3220 Wireless can print from Google Cloud Print for Gmail and Google Docs on a mobile device and from the Google Chrome browser. The $69.99 MG2220 is an MG3220 without WiFi.
The printers include My Image Garden software to help organize photos and create new photo projects. Print Your Days, a new Facebook application, accesses and customizes photos stored on the social networking site.
The $99.99 Wi-Fi Selphy CP900 with a 2.7-inch LCD can also print 4x6 photos from smartphones with the Canon Easy-PhotoPrint mobile app for Android or iOS. Scene detection technology analyzes faces, distance and color. An optional battery and charger make the smaller, lighter printer even more portable.
Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com) has released a public beta of Photo Mechanic 5 (and redesigned its Web site at the same time). Version 5 features ACR-compatible crops, Auto Ingest, IPTC/XMP enhancements, movie playback and frame extraction [M], Preview with contact sheet, Tasks pane in contact sheet.
Little Mule Productions has released a free tutorial (http://mulita.com/blog/?p=3945) on Lightroom 4's Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks sliders. Not to be missed.
XPro Software (http://www.xprosoftware.com) has released its free GeniuX Photo EFX 3 release candidate [M]. See it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_BqEuop17Q
DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released Optics Pro 7.5 [MW] with support for the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and over 300 new optics modules for Canon, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and Zeiss lenses for numerous Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony cameras.
Les Tirmenstein has launched a Kickstarter project (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/288483367/flashpipe-the-new-lightweight-folding-flash-diffus?ref=activity) for his FlashPipe, a new design in diffusers for hotshoe-mounted flash.
PhoozL (http://www.phoozl.com) has announced its The Art of Nature photo contest. Nature and wildlife photographer Daniel J. Cox selected the contest theme and will pick the final winners. The contest is open for submissions until July 31 with participants allowed up to five nature photos. The Grand Prize winner will receive a personal one-on-one review from Daniel Cox.
Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has released HDR Efex Pro 2 with a wide range of new features and a new tone mapping engine.
onOne Software (http://www.ononesoftware.com) has lowered the price of its DSLR Camera Remote v1.4.3 for iPhone/iPod to $9.99 and its DSLR Camera Remote HD for iPad to $24.99.
Rocky Nook has published Tabletop Photography by Cyrill Harnischmacher, covering "a variety of exposure and lighting techniques, and covers how to achieve excellent results using compact flash units." The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 22 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937538044/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has updated its Cumulus 8.6 [LMW] with a Web Server Console, a new site administration interface, File System Companion, Google Maps integration, multiple language support, client interface updates, support for IPTC 1.1 and more.
Russell Brown demonstrates Photoshop CS6's Adaptive Wide Angle feature (http://tv.adobe.com/watch/the-russell-brown-show/a-detailed-look-at-adaptive-wide-angle/).
Imagenomic (http://www.imagenomic.com) has released its Noiseware 5 [MW] Photoshop plug-in with a faster core algorithm to retain more image detail, a newly-designed user interface and controls, the ability to create an unlimited number of presets and a new history control for an unlimited number of history steps. In addition, it provides 64-bit native support for Mac OS X to complement the existing compatibility for Windows systems, as well as full compatibility with Adobe Photoshop CS6.
Akvis (http://akvis.com) has released SmartMask 4.0 [MW] as a standalone version with interface design updates, image processing optimizations, auto and manual editing modes, a Quick Selection tool, Background Eraser improvements and more.
Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his Raw Photo Processor 4.6.0 [M] with support for the Sony RX100/A37/A65/NEX-F3, Fuji X-Pro1, Samsung NX200, Nikon D800E/P7100 and Leica M plus support for lossless DNG compression, new profiles, a Settings Selector and more.
The $24 JAlbum 10.8 (http://jalbum.net) [LMW] adds album tagging, inclusion of XMP-formatted metadata with generated close-ups and hi-res images, skin updates and more.
Scandigital (http://www.scandigital.com) has offered a 50 percent discount on services plus restoration help and digital archiving for the victims of the Colorado wildfires. Others can get a 10 percent discount the company will match with a 10 percent donation to the Red Cross on orders coded HELPCOLORADO.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 9.1.09 [LMW] with support for even more devices and reading SilverFast HDRi Raw files.
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
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