Archive for the ‘PRODUCT REVIEWS’ Category

Adobe Lightroom 4 – Stephen Lerch – Product Review   9 comments


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There has been a huge buzz lately over the release of Adobe Lightroom 4 and Adobe Lightroom is also referenced quite often by our past and future Featured Photographers.  What is it?  Why do I need it?  What are the differences between Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4?  Well… keep reading beacuse Stephen Lerch has the answers!!

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 Adobe Lightroom 4 – Stephen Lerch – Product Review

Adobe Lightroom is Adobe’s flag ship digital image development program. When I say “image development” I mean just that. Think of Lightroom as a digital darkroom and now you know what is possible in the software.

The first lesson you must learn when using Lightroom is… stop shooting in JPEG. Lightroom can do some amazing things, even with JPEGs, but if you want to enjoy the benefits Lightroom has to offer, you really need to shoot in RAW. You can pull some shadow and some highlight detail from JPEGs, but there is an order of magnitude difference in the amount of detail present in a RAW file.

The other thing to realize is that yes, if you have Photoshop, you can do everything Lightroom does. The difference, for now, is Lightroom 4 uses the new Adobe Camera RAW version (CS5.1 doesn’t have this), which is where a lot of the new highlight/shadow recovery comes from, so for now Lightroom is quite a bit nicer than Photoshop in that regard. The other, most important piece, to remember is that Lightroom is designed from the ground up to only include the functionality you need for digital photography – you can’t do advanced photo editing where you replace a goat’s head with a person’s or remove trees and so on. If you need that kind of software, buy Photoshop. If all you want is to develop your digital images as they were shot, with some spot removal tools, cropping and so on, Lightroom 4 is the place to be and the interface is designed with just these things in mind.

Next, if you are new to the product, check around the web for tutorials (Adobe has a few) and buy a book. You’ll need it. The interface isn’t horrible, but not all of the tools are intuitive enough that you can just pick it up and run. There is a lot of hidden power to be tapped and if all you want is to just skim the surface and not dig into the details, you might be better served with something like say, Photoshop Elements instead.

For users new to Lightroom, there are 7 modules now that you work with primarily. The first is the Library module. This is where you allow Lightroom to troll your hard drive looking for images (you can determine where it looks). This is where you would go to quickly find an image you’ve tagged (you can keyword tag your photos). The next module is Map. If you have a camera with GPS functionality or want to manually input the location data, you can use this module to locate your images on a map of the world. Next up is the Develop module. This is where all the magic is done. In this module you can choose white balance, change color temperature, change exposures, add sharpness, enhance shadows and highlights, perform lens correction and so on. It is amazingly powerful stuff. You then have the Book module, where you can create photo books in a streamlined manner and send it to Blurb for printing or create a PDF for printing wherever you might print books. Next up is Slideshow. Here you create Slideshows of images and can run it like a presentation with some added text and so on. Then there is the Print module. I still use Photoshop for printing since I know how to get the results I want from there, but I will be trying Lightroom again now that we have a new version. And finally you have the Web module that can be used to upload your photos automatically to many services you already likely use or have seen, such as Facebook.

So what’s new/different between Lightroom 3 and 4? First up is the geo tagging. For those of you lucky enough to have GPS built into your camera (including camera phones!), you can now have Lightroom import this information and tag your photos according to your locations. This means you can search via say, Indiana and find all the photos there. The inclusion of a map function allows you to see where the photos were actually taken, so if you were in a pub taking photos in New York City, then found your way to another pub 10 miles away, your photos are separated by 10 miles (scale miles!) on the map so you know exactly where the photos were taken.

Next up is the book module. I’ve used this extensively in the beta, just to try it out, and it is fairly intuitive and easy to use. I haven’t yet submitted a book for printing, but that is just a button click away as well. You can easily create books and send them off to Blurb (Adobe partnered with them) or print to PDF for printing elsewhere. The results are nice, but if you have to be in control of every aspect of the layout, InDesign is the way to go here.

You can now, if you are lucky enough to have a camera that does video, import and perform color/white balance corrections on DSLR video. I have seen it used and borrowed files from friends (my DSLR doesn’t do video) and it works. It’s not as easy to use as a dedicated video program, nor as robust, but it works. I watched a video on the Lightroom YouTube channel where they took a snap shot from a video, color corrected the photo then applied that correction to the video as well. I tried that out, and it works, but results aren’t always what you want. You may be able to do it, but I haven’t found it, but it seemed to me you had to apply the correction to the entire video, not just a scene. So those of you looking for video editing, you are better served with real editing software, not using Lightroom for this.

Another major improvement is highlight and shadow recovery. When used properly, you can actually pull detail out of a photo, even some JPEGs, you never would have thought was there. You can also do faux HDR with a single image instead of a series of images and, believe it or not, the results are actually quite nice (if you like HDR that is). The highlight/shadow recovery is similar to the sliders you knew and loved in Lightroom 3, only they are so much more powerful here.

When Adobe releases the next version of Photoshop, it will likely be amazing given how awesome Adobe Camera RAW seems to function in Lightroom.

So there are a couple questions you have to answer.

If you already own Lightroom 3, is it worth the upgrade for you? If you live your life in Lightroom 3 and rely on it for your livelihood, yes, buy 4 without question. The new highlight/shadow tools can work magic on your photos. For the rest of us who don’t make our living and it’s just a hobby, the question comes down to new functionality. If you like the idea of geo location of photos, the enhanced shadow/highlight functionality and video support, buy it. If Lightroom 3 gives the results you want and you’re just a hobbyist, you may wish to wait or not spend the money at all.

If you don’t have Lightroom already, should you buy this over Aperture? That depends. If you know Aperture and the functionality it offers, then Lightroom 4 may be a steeper learning curve for you. Personally I feel Lightroom gives ME better results, but I’m not an expert at Aperture and I’ve learned on Lightroom. If the option is DxO vs Lightroom, just buy Lightroom. It is worth the extra money.

If you want digital imaging software that allows complex cutting and editing, you don’t want Lightroom.

One other nice feature of Lightroom 4 is the new pricing structure. The prices are set at a point where it actually makes sense, if you are a hobbyist and especially a professional, to move to Lightroom.

I give Adobe Lightroom 4 five stars. It does an amazing job, works really well and the details it can pull, even from JPEGs, is astonishing.

Adobe has hit a home run here.

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 ** If you would like to download the software instantly or looking for the Mac Version CLICK HERE  ** 

 

Win Some Cool Prizes on PhotoBotos.com!   15 comments


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Win Some Cool Prizes on PhotoBotos.com!

We just wanted to thank you all for your continued support for our website.  You may have noticed that our theme is still bringing you amazing photographs from around the world, but we have also added some cool reviews as well.  Our Facebook following is starting to pick up and our views are growing exponentially.  So as a small token of our gratitude we are going to have giveaways to our Facebook friends when we hit certain Milestones on our page.  The first giveaway will be when we attract a total of 500 people that “Like” us on our Facebook page.  This should happen pretty quickly since we have over 6,500 Followers and it seems almost everyone today is on Facebook!  If you have already liked us then you are already enrolled in the contest.  If you haven’t yet already, please go to our home page and press “Like” on our white Facebook box as soon as possible for your chance to win.  The quicker we reach our first goal of 500 followers the quicker we give away the first prize.  Also, feel free to tell your friends to like us on Facebook as well.  If they are not into photography or travel they can give the prizes to you.  All prizes will be either travel or photography related.  

Here is a quick overview of the contest:

When certain milestones are reached (i.e. 500 friends, 1,000 friends, etc.) on our Facebook page, we will give away a prize to a random Facebook friend that has previously signed up.  Once you become a friend you are automatically entered into the drawing.  When a winner is chosen they will be notified via Facebook and the prize will be sent out.  Prizes will be photography and/or travel related.  Thanks for playing and GOOD LUCK!

Canon 5D Mark III Press Release – Product Review   17 comments


 

                              

  

Canon 5D Mark III Press Release – Product Review

Okay everyone, get your Christmas list out early and put this at the top.  I won’t talk about it much because the review is long enough.  However if you do not have enough money to buy it when it is launched, remember this will make a used version of its predecessor (Canon 5D Mark II) a bit more affordable. So without further interruption, please read about this extraordinary camera below.

Press Release from Canon USA:

Canon U.S.A. Announces The Highly Anticipated EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera

Featuring Improved Image Quality, a 61-Point High Density Reticular AF, Six fps High-Speed Continuous Shooting and Enhanced HD Video Recording Features

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., March 2, 2012 – On the 25th anniversary of its world-renowned EOS System, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is proud to announce its latest model, the new EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera. Positioned between the extremely popular EOS 5D Mark II and Canon’s top-of-the-line professional EOS-1D X model, the EOS 5D Mark III delivers superb image quality, thanks to a new 22.3-megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, a high-performance DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor, a 61-point High Density Reticular Autofocus (AF) System and six frames-per-second (fps) continuous shooting speed. Building upon the trailblazing success of the EOS 5D Mark II, the EOS 5D Mark III also incorporates enhanced video features for professionals in the fields of cinematography, television production and documentary filmmaking, including better noise reduction, longer recording times and a built-in headphone jack for audio monitoring. The EOS 5D Mark III is Canon’s answer to hundreds of thousands of advanced amateurs and emerging professionals looking for a compact, high-quality camera system to help them achieve their artistic vision, whether it be through still or video imagery. The EOS 5D Mark III introduction coincides with Canon’s 25th anniversary celebration of the EOS camera system. Canon’s  award-winning EOS system first debuted in March of 1987 with the introduction of the EOS 650 SLR camera and three EF lenses.

“We are extremely excited to announce the highly anticipated follow-up to our EOS 5D Mark II, a camera which has been called a ‘game-changer’ in most professional photography and videography circles.  The EOS 5D Mark III will carry on that tradition, delivering better and more advanced features, helping our customers achieve excellent image quality for stills and video,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. 

The EOS 5D Mark III inherits many features from Canon’s recently announced flagship DSLR, the EOS-1D X, including a DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor and a high-performance 61-point High Density Reticular AF array with up to 41 cross-type points and five dual cross-type points available, depending on the lens in use. The enhanced processing power enables fast continuous shooting of up to six fps, exceeding the speed of the EOS 5D Mark II model by more than 50 percent, and with improved weather resistance the EOS 5D Mark III is a serious option for sports and wildlife photographers.

EOS 5D Mark III Video: The Legacy Continues
The EOS 5D Mark II blazed the trail for EOS cameras and Canon to enter the professional video and cinema markets, paving the way for Canon’s recent introduction of the Cinema EOS system of cameras and lenses. Now, the EOS 5D Mark III continues Canon’s commitment to these new markets with new and requested features from cinematographers, television production professionals and independent filmmakers. This new model captures 1080p Full HD video at 24p (23.976), 25p, and 30p (29.97) fps; 720p HD recording at 60 (59.94) and 50 fps; and SD recording at 30 (29.97) and 25 fps, giving cinematographers and videographers more flexibility and options for video capture.

The EOS 5D Mark III includes new H.264 video compression formats to simplify and speed up post-production work: intraframe (ALL-I) compression for an editing-friendly format and interframe (IPB) compression for superior data storage efficiency, giving professionals options to help achieve their ideal workflow. Like the EOS-1D X, the 5D Mark III also includes two methods of SMPTE-compliant timecode embedding, Rec Run and Free Run, allowing video footage from multiple cameras and separate audio recordings to be synced together in post production. 

The new full-frame CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor have enhanced the camera’s image processing performance over the 5D Mark II, significantly reducing moiré and color artifacts in scenes with horizontal lines.  The video footage produced will exhibit less moiré than seen in previous DSLR models, resulting in a significant improvement in HD video quality. Accommodating documentary filmmakers, and event videographers using EOS DSLR cameras, the 5D Mark III includes the ability to record video continuously up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds across multiple 4GB files.  Long-form filmmakers will enjoy the camera’s automatic file splitting in combination with the extended memory capacity offered by dual card slots.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III also includes manual audio level control with 64 levels, adjustable both before and during movie recording. There is also an automatic audio level setting, or sound recording can be turned off entirely. A wind filter is also included. Sound can be recorded either through the internal monaural microphone or via an optional external microphone through the stereo mic input. Notably, the EOS 5D Mark III is the first EOS Digital SLR to feature a built-in headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring during video capture.

Newly Developed Canon CMOS Sensor
With its completely new 22.3-megapixel full-frame Canon CMOS image sensor, the EOS 5D Mark III becomes the highest resolution Canon Digital SLR released to date. It is eminently suitable for a wide variety of assignments including weddings and portraits, nature and wildlife, travel and landscapes as well as commercial and industrial photography. With a gapless microlens design, a new photodiode structure and improved on-chip noise reduction, the new sensor achieves higher sensitivity and lower noise levels for both RAW image data as well as in-camera JPEGs and EOS Movies compared to the 5D Mark II. The result is outstanding image quality in all shooting conditions, even low light. An eight-channel readout doubles the speed of image data throughput from the sensor to the DIGIC 5+ processor, resulting in better video image quality as well as six fps for still photos.

The low-light capability of the EOS 5D Mark III is evident in its incredible ISO range and image quality in poor lighting conditions. Adjustable from ISO 100 to 25,600 within its standard range, the new model also offers a low ISO 50 setting for studio and landscape photography and two extended ISO settings of 51,200 and 102,400, well suited for law enforcement, government or forensic field applications.

The new 5D Mark III is also equipped with Canon’s EOS Integrated Cleaning System, featuring a Self Cleaning Sensor Unit with a fluorine coating that repels dust and dirt particles.

Canon-Exclusive DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor
The EOS 5D Mark III’s new DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor is 17 times faster than the DIGIC 4.The EOS 5D Mark III uses that extra speed not only for improved image quality, but also to add no less than nine new features that do not exist on the 5D Mark II. These new features include six fps continuous shooting, HDR and Multiple Exposure modes, in-camera RAW processing, a comparative playback function, Scene Intelligent Auto mode, two forms of movie compression, and support for high-speed UDMA 7 Compact Flash memory cards.

Another extremely valuable feature enhanced by the DIGIC 5+ Imaging Processor is the EOS 5D Mark III’s choice of reduced resolution M-RAW (10.5 megapixel) and S-RAW (5.5 megapixel) recording modes. These settings are particularly useful to wedding photographers for candid photos that do not require the EOS 5D Mark III’s 22 megapixel full resolution, because they take up less space on the memory cards and speed up post-processing without losing the critical benefits of RAW image data, such as highlight and shadow control as well as white balance adjustment. M-RAW and S-RAW also preserve the full field of view rather than cropping the image or resorting to JPEG mode to reduce resolution.

High-Performance 61-Point High Density Reticular AF
For still photographers, Canon has included its new 61-point High Density Reticular AF System, originally introduced with the top-of-the-line EOS-1D X professional camera. A significant advancement over previous 5D-series AF systems, the new 61-Point High Density Reticular AF included in the EOS 5D Mark III is the most sophisticated SLR AF system Canon has ever released. All 61 points are manually selectable and sensitive to horizontal contrast with maximum apertures larger than or equal to f/5.6. The camera’s twenty one focusing points in the central area are also standard precision cross-type and effective with maximum apertures larger than or equal to f/5.6. The center five points are ultra-high-precision diagonal cross-type points for maximum apertures larger than or equal to f/2.8. The 20 outer focusing points function as high-precision cross-type points with maximum apertures larger than or equal to f/4.0. Other innovations of the new 61-point High Density Reticular AF include expanded AF coverage area, superior focusing precision and low-light sensitivity to EV -2, and greater low-contrast subject detection capability compared to earlier EOS AF systems. (See image below for AF point configuration)

All AF functions now have their own menu tab for quick and easy access (formerly AF custom functions in previous EOS models).  A new AF Configuration Tool allows for customized setting of tracking sensitivity, the acceleration and deceleration of tracking subjects, and AF point auto switching, all of which are easily accessed and adjusted via the new AF menu tab. A built-in Feature Guide advises photographers on which settings to use according to subject matter.

The EOS 5D Mark III uses the same high-performance AI Servo III AF tracking algorithm as the flagship EOS-1D X professional DSLR. This new feature works together with the 61-point High Density Reticular AF system to provide superb tracking performance that blends very well with the new camera’s 6 frames-per-second high-speed continuous shooting capabilities.

Similar to the AF point selection options offered in the EOS 7D and EOS-1D X camera models, the EOS 5D Mark III offers six AF point selection modes: Spot, Single Point, Single Point with surrounding four points, Single Point with surrounding eight points, Zone selection and Automatic AF point selection.

iFCL Metering
Complementing the EOS 5D Mark III camera’s 61-point AF system is Canon’s 63-zone iFCL dual layer metering system. The ‘FCL’ stands for ‘Focus, Color and Luminance,’ and references the fact that the metering system not only measures color and luminance data, but also analyzes the data provided by each point of the AF system. Canon’s iFCL metering keeps exposure levels stable from shot to shot, even as the light source changes. The camera’s autofocus information is also used to help determine which area of the scene is of greatest importance in determining exposure.

HDR Mode
The EOS 5D Mark III camera features a built-in HDR mode, merging three images at various exposure levels into a single image, in-camera, for stunning photographs of landscapes and architecture with enhanced tonal gradation beyond the range of the naked eye. The exposure levels in the camera’s HDR mode can be set to cover a range of up to ±3 stops, in a choice of five settings: Natural, Art Standard, Art Vivid, Art Bold and Art Embossed providing unique visual effects.  Individual source images can be saved as separate files, and the HDR mode has an optional automatic alignment function that can be useful for hand-held shooting. The EOS 5D Mark III’s standard Auto Exposure Bracketing function has been upgraded to allow for up to seven exposures per sequence, and exposure compensation can now be set for up to +/- 5EV.

Multiple Exposure Mode
The EOS 5D Mark III is the second EOS Digital SLR after the EOS-1D X to feature Multiple Exposure capabilities with the ability to combine up to nine individual images into a single composite image, with no need for post-processing in a computer. Four different compositing methods are provided for maximum creative control, including Additive, Average, Bright and Dark. Compositing results can be viewed in real time on the camera’s LCD monitor, and there is a one-step Undo command that allows photographers to delete an image and try again if desired. The EOS 5D Mark III camera’s Multiple Exposure mode even allows photographers to specify a previously captured RAW image as the starting point for a new Multiple Exposure composite image, or shoot continuously when photographing moving subjects.

Comparative Playback
A new feature seen for the first time in the EOS System on the 5D Mark III is Comparative Playback allowing photographers to display two images side by side on the camera’s 3.2-inch LCD screen. The images can be displayed with a histogram to check exposure levels, or magnified to check for focus or facial expressions. 

Durability, Reliability and Other Features
The EOS 5D Mark III features a rugged camera body with magnesium alloy body covers and a stainless steel lens mount. The new camera also has dust- and moisture-resistant design with improved gaskets and seals. Although not quite as weatherproof as an EOS-1D-series camera, the EOS 5D Mark III does feature improved weather resistance over the EOS 5D Mark II model. The EOS 5D Mark III’s newly developed shutter unit has a durability rating of 150,000 exposures, and shutter release lag time has been reduced to 59 milliseconds, making the shutter button very responsive. Canon’s locking mode dial is standard on the new model and a new custom function allows photographers to shut off other dials to prevent inadvertent operation.

The EOS 5D Mark III uses the same LP-E6 lithium-ion battery pack as other popular EOS cameras like the 5D Mark II, 7D and 60D. Batterylife is estimated at 950 exposures at normal temperatures, an improvement of 100 exposures more than the EOS 5D Mark II. The EOS 5D Mark III body weighs approximately 33.5 oz. with a battery installed, and the dimensions are approximately 6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 inches.

The EOS 5D Mark III incorporates Silent shooting modes, available for low-speed continuous shooting as well as single exposures. This feature is ideal when photographing in quiet environments. For better file management especially when working with multiple cameras, the new model also supports custom file names. There is also a new image rating feature that lets photographers rank their photos from 1 to 5 stars for quick editing.

The EOS 5D Mark III features a 3.2-inch Clear View II LCD screen with 1,040,000 dot resolution. This is the same screen that’s used in the top-of-the-line EOS-1D X. The camera’s optical viewfinder has been upgraded to approximately 100 percent coverage, and it features an Intelligent Viewfinder display with an optional grid on demand. The EOS 5D Mark III also has a built-in Dual Axis Electronic Level that can be displayed on both the LCD screen and the optical viewfinder.

The EOS 5D Mark III accepts both Compact Flash Type 1 and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards in a dual card slot configuration. Three recording methods are supported: Record the same data to both cards, record different file sizes or types to each card, or automatically switch to the second card when the first card is full.

Accessories
The EOS 5D Mark III DSLR also has a number of new optional accessories, including the new Canon Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A featuring wireless LAN support for 802.11 a/b/g/n signal protocols for various network environments. The WFT-E7A connects to the camera through its USB port and includes a built-in gigabit Ethernet connection, time syncing for multiple cameras on the same network, FTP mode, EOS Utility mode, WFT Server mode and Media Server mode. With this new WFT model, professionals can synchronize clocks on multiple cameras and use the unit to support linked shooting when utilizing multiple cameras.  In addition, Bluetooth-compatible equipment can be easily linked to the device as well.

The EOS 5D Mark III also has an optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2, which can be connected to the camera via the accessory shoe or a USB cable.  With a GPS logging function built-in, the GP-E2 will log latitude, longitude, elevation, and the Universal Time Code – and allow viewing of camera movement on a PC after shooting.  With its built-in compass, the GP-E2 receiver will also record camera direction when shooting, even when shooting vertically. The Canon GPS Receiver GP-E2 is compatible with the EOS-1D X and EOS 7Di as well as the EOS 5D Mark III.ii

Battery Grip BG-E11 is an optional accessory for the EOS 5D Mark III that accepts one or two LP-E6 lithium-ion battery packs or a set of six AA-size batteries. This new grip has a multicontroller and a multifunction (M.Fn) button together a with a full set of grip controls for easy operation when shooting portraits or other vertical format photos. The BG-E11 is made from sturdy magnesium alloy and has the same degree of weather resistance as the EOS 5D Mark III.

Speedlite 600EX-RT
In addition to the EOS 5D Mark III, Canon is also announcing the first professional Speedlite on the market with a built-in wireless radio transmitter, the new Speedlite 600EX-RT.  The new Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT is the flagship model in the Speedlite line, ideal for wedding portrait and photojournalism. Compatible with all EOS Digital SLRs, this new model eliminates the need for accessory radio slave units and their inherent limitations. Speedlite 600EX-RT features Master-Slave two-way transmission, letting the photographer control the Speedlite settings directly from the “Master” camera.

Radio-based Wireless E-TTL can be performed with up to 15 Speedlite 600EX-RT “slave units”, used off-camera up to 98.4 feet (30m) away, and triggered by either a “Master” 600EX-RT on-camera, or the optional new Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT.  Used with the EOS 5D Mark III or EOS-1D X, up to five groups of flashes can be completely controlled, independently, off-camera. And, it remains fully compatible with Canon’s legacy optical-based Wireless E-TTL technology, for users already committed to existing EOS Speedlites.  The Speedlite features enhanced weather-resistant construction — matching that of the EOS-1D X camera body — and a more reliable electrical contact.  The flash head zoom range now reaches from 20mm to 200mm.The Speedlite also allows remote shutter release of a single EOS camera, or Linked Shooting (simultaneous firing of up to 15 cameras, when one “Master” camera is fired), and includes gelatin filters and a dedicated filter holder to help photographers match ambient light.

Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
Canon is also introducing the new Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. Providing full support of Canon’s new radio-based wireless flash technology, the new ST-E3-RT can control up to five groups of flashes, up to 98.4 feet (30m) from the camera. The remote shutter release capability enables photographers to either fire a single camera remotely (by pressing a button on the ST-E3-RT), or to fire up to 15 EOS cameras with Canon’s Linked Shooting feature. Making it easy to control and adjust, all of the Speedlite Transmitter features are accessible through the Flash control menu of the EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III cameras. 

Pricing and Availability
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR camera is expected to be available at the end of March 2012 and will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $3,499.00. The EOS 5D Mark III will also be available with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens in a kit for an estimated retail price of $4,299.00. The Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E7A is scheduled to be available by the end of April 2012 at an estimated retail price of $849.99. Availability for GPS Receiver GP-E2 is expected by the end of April 2012, with an estimated retail price of $390.00Battery Grip BG-E11 is scheduled to be available at the end of April 2012 for an estimated retail price of $490.00. The Speedlite 600EX-RT and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT are also scheduled for end of March 2012 availability at estimated retail prices of $629.99 and $470.00 respectively.

 

Light Field Cameras – Product Review   34 comments


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Light Field Cameras – Product Review

If you haven’t already, you should stop by The Positive Page and say hi to Karina.  She is an avid photographer and weekly challenge expert.  Apparently, she also knows how to make a killer maragrita!  We were especially impressed with her article Could this be the end of Digital Photography as we know it? – so much so that we asked if we could use it.  Have a look below and let us know what you think… 

 

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Could this be the end of Digital Photography as we know it?

You’ll have to excuse me if I sound like I’ve just been through the photographic version of “Shock and Awe”. It’s because I have.

A few years ago, I heard rumblings about photographic technology so revolutionary, it could potentially make digital photography obsolete. Today, I learned that technology is here, and it’s available for purchase.

The cameras are called “light field”, or plenoptic, cameras. Light field cameras don’t make images by recording light on individual pixels the way standard digital cameras do; instead, they record images by collecting millions of individual rays of light, called “megarays”, for each photograph. These megarays include light’s direction, intensity, and color.

Why does this matter? The sheer density of light rays recorded by these cameras means that you can record enough information to have every point in your photograph focused correctly. That means that, when you upload your photographs, viewers can selectively focus AFTER the fact.

Yes. That means that out-of-focus photographs could be a thing of the past. In fact, anyone can focus on any point in a light field photograph at any time, simply by touching the image. That means your friends can do the same thing when you upload your image to your favorite social site (Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, and so forth).

There are two companies who have these light field cameras available for purchase. One is Raytrix, whose lowest cost camera runs $3,558.10 before shipping. The other is Lytro, whose lowest cost camera is $399 before shipping.

There are, naturally, pros and cons to light field photography. As with anything new, it remains to be seen how it will all shake out in the end. However, after reviewing the press releases, videos, reviews, and FCC teardown information, here are the pros and cons as I see them.

PROS:

  • True point and shoot: Light field technology eliminates the need to focus, so it frees up a photographer to shoot at will, in the moment, and without worrying about ISO, megapixels, or even aperture settings. The implications for amateur photographers are staggering: no more out-of-focus shots! Images are made by simply aiming your camera. The only concerns will be over timing and where you are aiming your camera.
  • Speed: Light field technology is super fast. The instant shutters and lack of need for focusing means that there is zero lag time when you shoot your picture.
  • Lighting: Light field cameras can make photographs in low light without a flash. Since light field technology uses all available light, a photographer can capture useable images in places where traditional cameras require lighting or flashes.
  • 3D imagery/perspective shift: Still in development is the ability to render light field photographs in 3D. Sometime in 2012, Lytro expects to have 3D algorithms in place which will allow users to view images in 3D, using any 3D display. This will also allow for changes in perspective from within the photograph. (Wow.)
  • Storytelling: Complex images could be used to tell complex stories, where the background and foreground are layered, changing the meaning in the story.
  • Equipment cost: No bulky lenses and no flash units means no more expensive equipment to buy and later upgrade, which translates into potentially significant cost savings.
  • Potential for improvement: Light field technology–particularly in terms of inclusion in a salable product–is still in its infancy. We must remember, however, the current crop of digital SLRs, and even multiple-megapixel cellphones, started small as well. My Canon10D DSLR camera had a then-stunning, top-of-the-line 6.3 megapixel capability when I bought it years ago; by comparison, today’s iPhone 4s have an 8-megapixel capability. And that’s in a cellphone!
  • Future inclusion with cellphone technology: Speaking of cellphones: as you can see from the bottom news link, Steve Jobs allegedly had talks with Lytro staff about the potential for using light field technology in Apple’s iPhones. Imagine social media photo sharing using the iPhone and this type of image. You think Instagram is hot? Just wait…

CONS:

  • Ergonomics: I am not enthralled with the Lytro’s ergonomics specifically. The shape of a Lytro camera doesn’t look wonderful when it comes to fitting naturally into one’s hand. It looks more like a boxy flashlight than a camera. The Raytrix cameras do look more ergonomically friendly, but are literally almost ten times the cost
  • Printability: I am concerned about printability. I have looked and listened and watched, and so far I can’t find any reliable information on how to print and what size image I might be able to get out of this camera, should I choose to print one (although I wonder if that’s even the point with this type of photography). Most of the attention is on the “living image”, which anyone, even your Facebook followers, can refocus at will, as many times as they want. Since these images are embeddable online, and sharable across social platforms and almost any device, including tablets, phones, and web browsers, printing could be a moot point.
  • Image size: I don’t know how well you can blow up a light field image. Can it be expanded to a larger size onscreen, the way we can upload multi-megapixel imagery and view it in sizes ranging from thumbnail to full screen, and beyond? The ability to explore an image in detail is something I am very interested in.
  • Cropping/wide-angle/Macro: I like to be able to selectively crop an image to facilitate my storytelling, and I don’t know if you can crop one of these images. Also, a fixed lens might limit my ability to change viewpoints, in terms of wide-angle vs. closeup…unless I want to walk back and forth, that is. Also, how macro can macro go? The squirrel (below) is impressive, but how closely can I shoot a flower? Is it close enough to see the pollen in detail?
  • Storytelling: If the picture can be focused after the fact, by anyone, it changes my ability to focus their attention in a specific place. If I want my photograph to tell a particular story, the ability to refocus may make this impossible, since attention could be placed on any point within the picture. This could be a problem for journalists and writers who use photography for illustration.
  • Operating System: Currently, the Lytro software is available only for Mac operating systems. Lytro is working on a windows-based software package, however, which they expect to be available this year (2012).

Is light field/plenoptic technology going to replace our digital DSLRs today? No.

However, can you imagine the implications of one of these cameras? When the technology is refined, improved, and expanded, light field cameras could be the vanguard of a change in photography the likes of which we haven’t seen since digital memory chips replaced film.

Below is an image, taken from the Lytro Blog. Give it a try:

Photo by Mugur Marculescu, courtesy of the Lytro Blog: To selectively focus on this photograph,
click anywhere in the picture; double-click to zoom in; click and drag to move zoomed images.

 

*DISCLAIMER: I have not been paid by Lytro, nor do I have any plans to purchase one of these cameras as yet. I included specific references to Lytro’s cameras only because they have the lowest-cost camera that could potentially be used by the masses, and the technological implications of this are staggering…even though the camera still has yet to ship.

A Year of Watching Wildlife by David Lukas – Book Review   3 comments


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5 Reasons Why You NEED This Book “A Year of Watching Wildlife” – Lonely Planet Series – David Lukas

1)    Right Place at the Right Time

Have you ever looked at a spectacular photo and said that is a lucky shot.  Well, in the world of wildlife photography you make your own luck by being in the right place and waiting for the right time.  This book tells you on a week by week basis where the most interesting animal encounters are occurring around the world.

2)    Plan your next vacation

Want to go to Australia this week? Head on over to Ningaloo Reef and swim with the whale sharks.  Headed to Alaska? Wait until July and watch brown bears catching salmon at Katmai National Park. Live in California?  Make sure you go see the thousand pound bull elephant seals fight for territory at Ano Nuevo State Reserve in December.

3)    Determine the best times to see a certain species of animals

If you are a professional nature photographer or just a like to take snapshots this book is a valuable reference full of practical advice for not only knowing when to go, but finding out new species that are available to photograph. Also the book has a focus on environmentally responsible travel.

4)    Entertaining Read

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your house, this book is similar to a little National Geographic episode on each page.  Page 144 (Tibet), Page 72(Uganda), Page 135 (Russia).

5)    Excellent Photography

The book is filled with amazing nature photography fit for any coffee table.

 

I have owned this book for about 4 weeks now and pick it up every chance I get.  I have read it cover to cover and now I go back to see what potential trips are coming up.

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Other books in the Lonely Planet series are:  A Year of Adventures and A Year of Festivals

          

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Thanks for Reading!

-Charlie and Tom

(The PhotoBotos Brothers)

Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera – J. Gebauer – Product Review   5 comments


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Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera – J. Gebauer – Product Review

I’m a DSLR photographer who shoots professionally and has managed a camera store in the past. I wanted something I can take with me everywhere but still produces good quality shots. I also wanted a camera that could shoot good looking videos. I researched several models and after much deliberation decided on the Canon 300 HS. I’m very happy I did.

Image Quality:

I tested cameras and lenses all the time while managing the camera store so whenever I purchase a new camera or lens I always test it. The Canon 300 HS doesn’t produce the quality of images my Nikon D7000 does but I didn’t expect it to. The edges get a little soft with the 300 HS when looking at the image at 100% whereas the D7000 images are almost tact sharp.

Comparing the 300 HS to the Canon Powershot SD1000 from a few years ago, the 300 HS blows it out of the water. The SD1000 is a 7 MP camera. Shooting the same shots on a tripod with the same focal length on the lens the 300 HS uses its extra MPs well. When looking at the images from each camera at 100%, at the wide angle zoom setting and normal zoom setting both cameras have about the same relative slight softness on the edges. However the 300 HS has more MP so it actually produces much more detail in the image. I think it was smart for Canon to keep the MP at 12 because last years models while being 14 MP (SD1400) didn’t give any extra detail from what I could tell than the 12 MP version (SD1300). The SD1400 was basically just creating larger files. When zooming in the telephoto setting the 300 HS clearly produced a sharper image than the SD1000. Often cameras have sweet spots in the zoom range in which it will produce crisper images. The 300 HS has consistently good sharpness throughout it’s zoom range.

HS system and ISO:

The image processing with the HS system truly works to reduce noise at higher ISOs enabling people to produce better quality images in low light. The improvement in image quality gets more and more visible the greater and greater the ISO. ISO 400 with the 300 HS was almost as good as ISO 200 on the SD1000. ISO 800 on the 300 HS was a tad better than ISO 400 on the SD1000. ISO 1600 on the 300 HS was between ISO 400 and 800 on the SD1000. ISO 3200 on the 300 HS produced the same quality of image (noise) as ISO 800 on the SD1000. A 2 stop in film speed improvement is big.

1080p video and slow motion:

With good light, the 300 HS produces wonderful smooth 1080 videos. If you look at a lot of HD videos from compact cameras the video often looks jumpy. From what I’ve seen it wasn’t until you got to the Canon G12 or Panasonic LX5 that the video looked smooth. Both of those cameras only shoot 720p whereas this camera shoots 1080p. The video also very good detail. It truly looks HD.

If you are wanting zoom and continuous AF with your video this camera is the one you want compared to the 100 HS which doesn’t allow you to zoom. The continuous AF with face recognition is stellar with this camera in video mode. I was videoing my wife while she was driving. It focused on her face. I switched to the scenery outside. It immediately focused on that. I then went back to my wife and it found her face and focused on it right away. I even videoed her reflection in the rear view mirror and it found her face in the mirror no problem and focused on it. AMAZING!!!!

Commenting on a complaint I’ve read about the zoom being slow in video mode. If you like getting motion sickness whenever someone rapidly zooms in or out during their video this is not your camera. As smooth looking as the video is, the zoom is also. The smooth zoom creates nice looking transitions instead of warp speed ahead looks.

The slow motion is a fun feature that works well. You need to have good lighting though. In low light even with high ISO’s it produced very dark videos. In a review someone commented that it should have sound with the slow motion video. I honestly don’t know how that could work unless you want to listen to everything at 1/5 it’s normal speed. I think it’s a good thing that it doesn’t have sound with the slow motion videos.

AF:

I commented on AF partially in the video portion of the review. It does have several AF modes for various situations. The face detection works great. If you have a person in the picture but want something other than the person to be in focus you will need to change AF modes from face detection. The reviewer that had the problem with the 300 HS focusing on things he didn’t want the camera to focus on likely didn’t have the correct AF mode for the shooting situations. The 300 HS does have a center AF if you prefer that.

Areas for Canon to improve on with the 300 HS:

The camera is so well thought out that I’m surprised Canon let this slip. I love having a wide angle zoom go down to 24mm. It’s great for scenery and photojournalist type shots. If you shoot at the widest angle zoom and use the flash, the lens on the 300 HS blocks the flash’s exposure on the bottom right corner of the image. The corner is completely black. If you zoom in a bit so you aren’t at the widest angle setting when using the flash you will be fine. Still all Canon had to do is not put the flash so close to the lens.

When shooting video in lower light situations the video does start to get noisy and grainy quicker than some other cameras.

Conclusion:

All in all this is a wonderfully thought out camera with great image quality and image processing and it shoots stellar videos for it’s compact size.

*Click Here* to view the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera

 

iPro Lens System for Apple iPhone 4 and 4S – Product Review   11 comments


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iPro Lens System for Apple iPhone 4 & 4S with Cases, Handle, Fisheye & Wide-Angle Lenses – Product Review

          

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Review written by: Alexandra Chang, Macworld Staff Editor

The iPhone photography industry never ceases to release better, more advanced, and sometimes exceedingly strange accessories. On its own, the iPhone is already a great camera—the iPhone 4 sports a 5-megapixel sensor while the 8-megapixel iPhone 4S also got an optics boost to capture sharper, better-lit images. But there’s always room for improvement. Schneider Optics, a professional lens manufacturer, has released the iPro Lens System. This all-in-one accessory includes a wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, a specially designed iPhone case, and a lens case that doubles as a handle and tripod mount.

To use the iPro Lens System you need to snap on the included iPhone case, which is compatible with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The right and left sides of the case feature threaded inserts for you to attach the handle. The case is made out of molded plastic, and is very stiff—initially it seems impossible to put on and take off. It turns out you need to attach the lens case handle to the right side of the iPhone case and then apply leverage while popping the phone in and out. Schneider Optics provided these instructions to Macworld, but have not yet included them in the system’s user guide. Once you know this, however, the entire fitting process is very easy.

Once you have the case on, you can mount the wide-angle or fisheye lenses onto the iPhone camera. The back of the case features a bayonet mounting system, which lets you easily twist the wide-angle and fisheye lenses on and off. The same mounting system is located inside the lens case, to keep the lenses secure. It’s a well-designed system that does a good job of keeping lenses on the case, even with some heavy shaking.

In our photography tests, the iPro Lens System’s lenses produced sharp, high-quality images. The wide-angle lens is perfect for people who take a lot of landscape shots, or just want to be able to capture more in one photo. While the iPhone 4 camera alone captures a 62-degree field of view, the wide-angle lens makes it possible to capture an 86-degree field of view. The difference is even more noticeable when shooting video, where the wide-angle gets a 70-degree field of view compared to the iPhone’s 46. Shots are crisp; there’s very little distortion and absolutely no vignetting.

No Lens

 

 Wide-angle Lens

 

 Fisheye Lens    .

Obviously, the fisheye results are the more extreme. The lens captures a 160-degree field of view in still camera mode, and 120 degrees in video mode. My only problem with the fisheye lens is that the vignetting is not completely symmetrical: One side of a shot has slightly more vignetting than the other. But image results are super crisp, and overall it’s a great lens. Another cool feature with the iPro Lens System is that the lens case handle also functions as a tripod mount. The bottom of the handle has a 1/4-20 attachment point, compatible with any standard tripod.

This level of iPhone shooting doesn’t come cheap though. The iPro Lens System is a whopping $199 ($189 on Amazon with free shipping), almost three times the cost of the comparable olloclip, and $30 less than the super-sturdy OWLE Bubo mount. Granted, the iPro Lens System’s image quality is superior to all other iPhone lens options I’ve seen. Plus, you get a decent case and a handle to steady your shots. It’s also portable: In my days of reviewing the iPro Lens System, I kept the case on my iPhone, and carried the lens case with me in my bag. Whether Schneider Optics’ iPro Lens System is worth the money depends a lot on what you use your iPhone for, and how often.

Macworld’s buying advice

I can imagine the iPro Lens System as a great option for people who make skating, biking, and other action sports videos. It might be a worthwhile investment for Instagram lovers, or anyone who has started to rely on their iPhone camera to take photos more than their DSLR. People who don’t frequently take photos with their iPhone and still want extra lens effects once in a while should consider cheaper options. But for those who are avid iPhoneographers and want the very best lens accessory for their device, this is it.

 

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