July 2010 Archives

Cassie McFadden - Float

Here's a collection of images to lighten up your day. The assignment for June 2010 was "Float." Check out this soaring set of images from members of the TDS virtual camera club. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

The August 2010 assignment is "Tandem." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can now submit photo assignment pictures up to 800 pixels in the widest direction.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for next month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: August 2010." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.


Photo by Cassie McFadden. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how Cassie captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the June 2010 Gallery page.


Good luck with your August assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for June. Once again, it's a great collection of images.


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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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I have a couple hard drives without enclosures that weren't being put to use. What a shame! All that disc space just sitting there. So I decided to take a chance on a $30 hard drive docking station. Now I'm putting those discs to use.

Hard Drive Docking Station

The $30 docking station isn't going to win any awards for craftsmanship or design, but it does work. Insert the drive, push the power button, format it, and start working. Since it's the drive that requires integrity, not so much the docking station, this should serve me just fine for moving my data around.

It also includes a card reader and a USB hub with two ports. Don't get your hopes up for the card reader, but the USB hub seems to work fine.


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Upload to Flickr from iPhoto

iPhoto is a terrific tool for managing your pictures on your Mac. But iPhoto 09 also lets you manage Web albums for Flickr, Facebook, and MobileMe. This helps you stay organized online as well as on your computer.

In my latest article for Macworld Magazine, Control your online albums with iPhoto, I show you how easy this process is.

Don't keep those great images all to yourself. Share them with friends, family, and even the world!


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Olympus E-PL1 "Bounce Flash"?

Olympus E-PL1 Flash

Many of us were thrilled when Olympus added a popup flash to its latest PEN, the E-PL1, but after using it for a while, it has another feature that I hadn't heard discussed as much: You can angle the flash for bounce too.

The popup flash head is attached to an ingenious "arm" mechanism that raises it above the camera body. This helps control red eye and lowers shadows a bit. But what's really cool, is that this "arm" swivels at the base. So you can angle the mechanism back on a 90 degree angle so the flash is pointing directly upward. Yes, you can bounce the built-in flash.

I used this bounce technique when I had to take a quick shot for this week's podcast, Wireless Photography. Direct flash would have caused an unwanted reflection in the glass screen of the iPad. (I was already taking a picture of another camera flashing directly at me.)

For best results, increase your ISO to 400 or 800. This will extend the range of the flash when bouncing it off white surfaces.


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iPad and S90 Wireless Photography

No wires or card readers -- you take a picture, it magically appears on your computer or iPad, then you upload it online for the world to see. In this week's podcast I explain a totally wireless photography workflow using an Eye-Fi card and an iPad loaded with ShutterSnitch and Meta Editor. It's not only fun... it's downright useful.

You can use this workflow with your laptop or netbook too, provided you get the software in order. I've been using the iPad because it only weighs 1.5 pounds, and it has both WiFi and cellular connectivity.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (32 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Torn is the July 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2010.

The SizzlPix Pick of the Month for Photo Assignment 51 (Fire) is awarded to Dan Newsom for his non-literal interpretation of fire.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. You can place your name on the reserve list now. Just drop me a line. We currently just have a couple spots open, so don't delay.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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Blurb logo

If you want to play with page layout designs for your first photography book, you can download the free BookSmart software (Mac/Win) and experiment. It's powerful and easy to learn.

I've embedded a short 2-minute video on How to Get Started with BookSmart Software on our new "Blurb on The Digital Story" site. After just a couple minutes, you'll see how easy this process can be.


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One of the missing links in the iPad photography workflow has been the ability to add copyright and other IPTC data to your images before sending them along via the Internet. Now, thanks to a new app by Cyril Godefroy called Meta Editor, you can add tags, author name, copyright, captions, and even geodata to any image that resides on your iPad.

MetaEditor Click on image for larger size.

I've add this application to my existing iPad workflow that uses an Eye-Fi card and ShutterSnitch to wirelessly move the images from my Canon PowerShot S90 to the iPad. I will sometimes touch them up using Photogene. And if I'm going to share them online, I open the shots in Meta Editor to add my IPTC data.

In the screenshot above, you can see the Meta Editor interface and the information I added to the Roma Tomato shot. Then, in the screenshot below, you see the same data in the Information dialog box for Preview on the Mac. All the data traveled with the image.

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And if you take a look at the Flickr version that was uploaded directly from the iPad, you'll see that "Tomato" was added as a Flickr tag too. Very nice!

Meta Editor is available in the App Store for $9.99. It still has a few rough edges that I'm sure will be smoothed out soon by the developer. But in the meantime, it does work well, and I haven't found anything else like it for the iPad.

I recommend Meta Editor to iPad toting photographers who need to add IPTC data to their images.

More iPad Articles

Eye-Fi Card, iPad, and ShutterSnitch for Wireless Transfer

iPad Camera Connection Kit

How to Create and Deliver Content for the iPad

Acme Made iPad Cases for Style and Protection

Will the iPad Squish my Photos?

The $2 iPad Stand

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

Lowepro Classified 160 AW is Perfect Bag for iPad Toting Photographers

Coolest iPad Apps for Photogs? Keynote and CameraBag

"iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219


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When I work with the iPad, I want to work fast. Transferring images from my Canon PowerShot S90, even with the very cool Camera Connection Kit, takes longer than I want for blogs and social networking posts. Fortunately now, using the Eye-Fi Pro X2 WiFi SD Card, and a nifty application on the iPad called ShutterSnitch, I can send images directly from my camera to the iPad in about 3 seconds.

ShutterSnitch on the iPad iPad image downloaded wirelessly from an Eye-Fi card using ShutterSnitch. Click for larger image.

I've been following this story since the initial release of ShutterSnitch, and have even exchanged emails with the developer. I'm just now writing about the application because I feel it's finally easy enough for most users to set up. Quite frankly, in the past it was too dificult. Now, as of version 1.1.6, all you have to do is this:

  • Set up your Eye-Fi Card - Make sure the wireless network you'll be using is registered with the card using Eye-Fi Center. Also make sure that "Public Hotspots" and "Relayed Transfer" is turned off.
  • Set up ShutterSnitch - Click on the Options button and choose "Set up Eye-Fi Access." You'll need your Eye-Fi user name and password.
  • Create a new Collection in ShutterSnitch - You have to be within a Collection to receive photos from the Eye-Fi card.
  • Take a picture - Within a few seconds ShutterSnitch will download it to the iPad.

Once the photo is on your iPad, you can send it via email, add star ratings to organize within the Collection, export to your Photos album, send up to Flickr, and more. The images sent via email were full size. Nice.

ShutterSnitch is available in the iTunes App Store for $8. And I'm happy to recommend it.

More iPad Articles

iPad Camera Connection Kit

How to Create and Deliver Content for the iPad

Acme Made iPad Cases for Style and Protection

Will the iPad Squish my Photos?

The $2 iPad Stand

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

Lowepro Classified 160 AW is Perfect Bag for iPad Toting Photographers

Coolest iPad Apps for Photogs? Keynote and CameraBag

"iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219


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Panasonic reminded us today that they're not ready to concede top honors for pro-toting compact cameras. With the release of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, they've provided tough competition to the Canon PowerShot S90.

Panasonic LX5

Let's take a look at a few of the specs:

Size: LX5 (110 x 65 x 25 mm) S90 (100 x 58 x 31 mm) -- Canon S90 is a bit more compact, but both cameras weigh-in around 175 g.

Image Sensor: LX5 (1/1.63" Type CCD - 11.3 MP) S90 (1/1.7" Type CCD - 10 MP) -- Again, a close call. The Panasonic sensor is a tad larger, but with more photosites crammed on there. So it may or may not perform better than the S90 in low light, given that all other variables are equal. My experience is that Canon does a better job with image noise than Panasonic. (Thanks Thomas for helping me with the math!)

Lens: LX5 (24-90mm - f/2.0 - 3.3) S90 (28-105mm f/2.0 - 4.9) -- Panasonic lens is a bit faster overall and is wider. Canon zoom has a bit more reach. Which is better will probably depend on your shooting style.

LCD: LX5 (3" 460K dots) S90 (3" 461K dots) -- A virtual tie.

Video: LX5 (up to 1280 x 720) S90 (up to 640x480) -- Panasonic gets this one.

Continuous Shooting: LX5 (2.5 fps for 3 frames) S90 (1 fps with not specified limit) -- Panasonic is better at capturing short bursts.

Auto Focus: LX5 (23 point) S90 (9 point) -- Panasonic has more focusing points.

Price: LX5 ($499 when released in Aug. 2010) S90 ($349 available now) -- The Canon is definitely more affordable right now.

The Panasonic LX5 has some other goodies that aren't available for the Canon S90, such as a hot shoe, accessory electronic viewfinder, and the ability to accommodate filters. On paper, the LX5 looks like a great camera that beats the Canon S90 in many categories. The bottom line will be image quality. We'll have to wait and see for that comparison.


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Olympus E-PL1 HD Movie Recording Rig

Imagine a complete HD recording rig -- LED light, external mic, and camera -- that weighs only 2.8 pounds? I started with an Olympus PEN E-PL1 micro four thirds camera, then added an Olympus SEMA-1 Mic Adapter for stereo audio recording. For lighting, I mounted a Litepanels LP Micro Compact LED Light Kit on a bracket to augment the ambient light and to balance facial tones. The entire rig was held together with a Stroboframe Quick Flip 350 Flash Bracket. This set up is so light that you can hold it with one hand, although I don't recommend that for recording.

You can watch this rig in action by checking out the movie trailer for Home Brew, a look at making beer at home with a very impressive stainless steel operation -- burners, pumps, fermentors, and more.


Super-light recording rig features an Olympus E-PL1, 14-150mm zoom, mic adapter with stereo mic taped to the bracket, and a Litepanels micro LED light for fill. Click on image for larger version.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Torn is the July 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2010.

The SizzlPix Pick of the Month for Photo Assignment 51 (Fire) is awarded to Dan Newsom for his non-literal interpretation of fire.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. You can place your name on the reserve list now. Just drop me a line. We currently just have a couple spots open, so don't delay.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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Blurb on The Digital Story

What's the best book-making tool for showing off your thoughts and images? The conclusion I've come to for our virtual camera club is Blurb. In my opinion, they rise above others for producing high quality print on demand books for photographers.


You can bookmark "Blurb on The Digital Story" or click on the bright blue Blurb logo in the Sponsors list (on every page of TDS) to see what's happening in the world of Blurb.



So, I started talking with them. The result of our discussions is Blurb on The Digital Story. This sponsored site provides you with weekly feature articles about books and bookmaking, incoming feed from the excellent Blurberati blog, ongoing Blurb Twitter conversations, and the crown jewel: Blurb Book Page of the Month.

Blurb Book Page of the Month

You know how much I like finding interesting avenues for you to share your work with others (especially if you get a little something extra in return). And now we have a new way to shine a light on your creativity. The Blurb Book Page of the Month will feature the most interesting book page designs from The Digital Story audience. Each month, a featured photographer will also receive a $75 Blurb certificate and a copy of How to Make a Gorgeous Photo Book. I have a copy myself, and it is informative and stunning. You can get all the details about participating in Blurb Book Page of the Month on the new Blurb on The Digital Story site. It's very easy. It doesn't cost you anything. And believe, it's very rewarding.

I've also updated the Member Participation page on TDS that explains all of the opportunities for sharing your work and communicating with us.


Blurb on The Digital Story is a sponsored site dedicated to using Blurb tools for telling your story through photographs and words.


As part of a movie project I'm working on called "Home Brew," I wanted to do a little test shooting to get a feel for the environment. So I took my portable Olympus PEN E-PL1 rig on location to record the making of a batch of home-brew beer. I had to work fast, stay out of the way, yet capture some good footage. Here's a short trailer that features the home brewing of an Imperial IPA.

This super-light recording rig features an Olympus E-PL1, 14-150mm zoom, mic adapter with stereo mic taped to the bracket, and a Litepanels micro LED light for fill. If you want to know more about this set-up, tune in to the podcast, Lights, Camera, Audio: 2.8 lbs of HD Recording Power.



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When I travel, my motto is: make space, don't erase. At first this may sound insane to you. But as you plan your trips, try to calculate how much camera memory you'll need, then get your hands on enough of it to cover your estimated shooting. Why?

Because you always want to have your pictures live in two places. Many photographers upload their images to a laptop in the evening, then erase their cards in preparation for the next day. In that scenario, your images only live in one place, and that's on a computer hard drive. If you were to keep your photos on the memory card too, then you would be much better protected against mishap.

I also recommend printing your contact information on each memory card in case it is misplaced. Plus, if you leave your camera behind, the card that's in it will tell people how to find you.

Currently, I'm packing a variety of 16GB memory, including the Kingston Elite Pro 16 GB 133x CF Cards ($40), and the Sandisk 16GB Extreme CF card ($95).



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We've caught wind of the new Panasonic LX5, and one of its most important changes is the upgraded zoom lens (24-90mm f2-3.3 vs 24-60mm f2-2.8). Here's a quick comparison between LX3 and LX5.
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At the start of 2010, I switched from the Managed File approach in Aperture to Referenced Files. I think both systems are good. It depends on your particular situation as to which is best for you.

But, regardless of your choice, be sure to use the wonderful incremental backup system built into Aperture called the Vault. It's a simple one-click tool that saves all of your work to a separate hard drive. If you're using the Managed File approach, the Vault backs up your masters too. Referenced File users must back up masters separately. Either way, one thing I've discovered is: the work that I do to organize, edit, and add metadata to my images is as valuable to me as the pictures themselves.

During my week of coping with my Drobo problems, the bright spot was how I had previously organized my files and having the Vault to put everything back together on a separate drive.

In short, I moved my 2010 Referenced File structure to a hard drive that had an up-to-date 2010 Vault on it. I enabled a Vault Recovery on the drive, and in just a few minutes, Aperture put everything back together for me. All of my work was there, all of the Referenced Files were reconnected, and I was back in business.

Moral of the story for me is: the Aperture Vault is invaluable, regardless of which library system I'm using.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.



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"The Big Yawn" - Grab Shot 199

"My dog Daisy is a frequent model for me," writes Gabrielle Rhodes, "but sometimes our sessions go a little long and she gets bored. This week I caught her in the middle of a full yawn."

Gabrielle Rhodes Grab Shot 199

Photo by Gabrielle Rhodes. Click on image for larger version.

Gabrielle captured The Big Yawn with a Nikon D3000 and a 18-55mm zoom lens. ISO was set to 100, and fill flash was on.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone or iPod Touch just to get a podcast. And there's more! Tap the Extras button for free passes and discounts and the current Grab Shot by our virtual camera club members. Each podcast episode has its own Extras button, too, that contains more goodies such as pro photo tips. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show.Download it today!


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What's the best way to protect your Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, or Samsung compact DSLR and still look stylish? You bought one of these nimble cameras to travel light, yet have all the functionality that you need. I have three Lowepro camera bags that work great for the Olympus PENs, Panasonic G series, Sony NEX, and Samsung NX10 camera systems.

Lowepro Bags for Micro 4/3 Cameras From left to right: Lowepro Apex 110 AW, Impulse 110, and Edit 110 bags for compact DSLRs. Click on image to enlarge.

Lowepro Apex 110 AW ($40) -- For outdoor work where the elements come into play. Included All Weather cover, belt loop, shoulder strap, sliplock loops, memory card pouches, padded handle, rugged rubber trim, and micro fiber cloth. Heavily padded design.

Fits Olympus PEN with 14-150mm zoom lens, and Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung bodies with any zoom. Additional room for pancake lens (such as Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 17mm, or Sony 16mm). But no room for additional zoom lens other than what is mounted on the camera. Most rugged of three cases.

Lowepro Impulse 110 ($19) -- For urban work. Largest of the three bags with shoulder strap, top loop but no padded handle, side pockets and front document pocket.

Fits Olympus PEN with 14-150mm zoom lens, and Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung bodies with any zoom. Additional room for pancake lens (such as Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 17mm, or Sony 16mm) and kit zoom lens separately. Accessories can be stored in side pockets.

Lowepro Edit 110 ($17) -- Suitable for urban or outdoor work. Shoulder strap, padded top handle, 2 side pockets, zippered front pocket, zippered mesh pocket inside, and belt loop.

Fits Olympus PEN with 14-42mm zoom lens, and Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung bodies with kit zooms. Additional room for pancake lens (such as Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 17mm, or Sony 16mm). Accessories can be stored in side pockets, zippered front pocket, or zippered mesh pocket inside. Heavily padded, all purpose bag for those who don't use the long zoom lenses (such as the Olympus 14-150mm).

Bottom Line

Rugged outdoor types who like the longer zooms should consider the Apex 110 AW. It can withstand just about any environment and protect your gear. For those who need a bit more room and tend to work in urban environments, the Impulse 110 is an affordable choice. And shooters who sometimes venture into the great outdoors, but need a good all purpose bag at an affordable price should look at the Edit 110.


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nanocam on bike

There are all sorts of ways to record video while riding your bike... and here's another. I'm using an iPod nano placed inside of a badge holder (that we all have from trade shows and conferences). I set the nano to video record, and off I go.

nanocam rig using badge holder to house iPod nano while riding. Click on image for larger version.

The Details

I cut a square hole in the clear part of the badge holder for the iPod nano camera lens and microphone. I hang the badge holder around my neck, and add a little stability using a cord that is looped around the bike frame. This allows me to record when both hands are on the bike.

However, the best recording happens when I can take one hand and steady the badge holder while peddling. It's much easier to grip than the nano itself, plus you don't have to worry about dropping it. The holder also allows me to direct the camera at other angles. If I need to put both hands on the bike, I can while still recording, thanks to the security of the rig. I also found that if I loop my thumb around the stabilizing cord while both hands are on the bike, I can still record decent video. It's definitely a trial and error procedure, though.

Bottom Line

This is yet another silly contraption for video recording while biking. Since nearly everyone has a conference badge holder laying around, however, this is a method you can rig up in just a few minutes.



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Over Under Lighting

Off camera flash opens up a whole new world of possibilities for your portrait photography. You're able to position the light exactly where you want it, you can make it more flattering for the subject by using modifiers, and you can add additional lights if necessary.

Now that I've finished the video training on the subject of Off Camera Flash, I want to revisit this subject in today's podcast for more details.

I'll talk about some of the different approaches to this type of lighting, the added control you have during portrait shoots, how you can use two lights to photograph reflective surfaces without getting any reflection, and more. This is really good stuff.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Torn is the July 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2010.

The SizzlPix Pick of the Month for Photo Assignment 51 (Fire) is awarded to Dan Newsom for his non-literal interpretation of fire.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. You can place your name on the reserve list now. Just drop me a line.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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Less in Love with Drobo

drobo_web.jpg

Back in September 2009, I published Drobo Field Test - 18 Months Later. At that point, things were going along pretty good for me and my robotic backup device.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I wanted to take advantage of one of Drobo's most touted features: increase its capacity by replacing a 500 GB hard drive with a 1 TB hard drive. I watched the video on the Drobo site about how easy this procedure was, then added a Hitachi 1 TB, 7200 rpm, SATA 3.0 drive in the bottom bay. For three days Drobo churned away incorporating the new drive into my array.

At the end of the third day, it showed increased capacity on the Drobo Dashboard, but I continued to get a "data is at risk" message with orange and green blinking lights. I restarted everything, and still, the same situation. Then a new twist, Drobo would dismount itself thereby prompting a new error by my Snow Leopard Mac.

Because Drobo can sometimes work things out for itself, I let it be for a couple days. But nothing improved. So I thought I would shut everything down, then put the original 500 GB drive back in the bottom bay, and at least get back to where I was before.

Three more days passed. More grinding. And in the end, Drobo decided it didn't like that hard drive anymore either. So I swapped drives again, thinking that maybe this time it would accept the new 1 TB drive.

Three more days passed. Nope.

So, I shut down Drobo, removed the drive from the bottom bay, and restarted. Now that the bottom bay is empty, it seems much happier, except it tells me that it's full. And therefore my data is still at risk. So I'm going to offload 100 GBs or so to another hard drive, give Drobo a little breathing room, then figure out what to do.

Bottom line: I haven't lost any data, so Drobo delivered on that promise. But, it seems like I no longer have an expandable drive either. This means that I'm less in love with Drobo than before. And it looks like I'm going to look for another backup solution.

If you have comments or tips about this, please post here. I'd like to hear your thoughts.


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When you take the flash off the camera and put it on a light stand, a whole new world of possibilities open up for you. You're able to position the light exactly where you want it, you can make it more flattering by using modifiers, and you can add additional lights if necessary.

In my just-released Lynda.com video training, Off Camera Flash, I demonstrate a variety of simple techniques that produce absolutely professional results. Check out this short movie for an overview:

By spending just an hour with this course, you can dramatically improve your indoor portrait photography, whether you're on location or in your own environment.



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Based on a comment by TDS reader David Burren, I discovered that I don't need to carry around those bulky cords for my camera battery chargers after all. The prong adapters that I have laying around the house for my Apple chargers also work in standard camera battery units. Wow! This saves me lots of space and hassle while on the road. Thanks David!

Product Reviews on TDS

A fun section to peruse on The Digital Story is our Product Reviews page. There you can learn about interesting cameras, useful accessories, and the latest software to help you get more out of your photography. The easiest way to get there is to mouse over the Photography tab in the top navigation bar on The Digital Story. Product Reviews are the third item down.

And don't forget, we have full search capabilities too. Just type in what you're looking for in the search box in the upper right corner, and the results will be delivered right away.


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t2i.jpg

The Canon T2i (550D) has taken the entry-level DSLR to a new place. If you put an "L" series lens on this camera, you can rival the results of more expensive, prestigious models. In this podcast, I put the T2i through its paces, then report on the pros and cons of Canon's most ambitious consumer DSLR to date.

A few of my favorite features? I love the new 3:2 high resolution LCD, the external mic jack, full HD video capture at 30, 25, 24 fps, and the outstanding image quality. And there's more!

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Torn is the July 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2010.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. You can place your name on the reserve list now.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

-


Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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The Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 micro Four Thirds Lens ($600) is a compact zoom that provides an effective focal length of 28mm to 300mm (on micro four thirds, you double the numbers) for Olympus PEN cameras. And after shooting with this lens for nearly a month, my opinion is: if you own an E-P2 or E-PL1 camera, you need to get this zoom. E-P1 owners might be tempted too, even though they don't have the electronic viewfinder option that I think is necessary for this zoom. More on that later.

Beach Wood Beach wood shot at 25mm (50mm equivalent) on Olympus 14-150mm lens mounted on an E-PL1 body. Picture processed normally in Aperture 3 with exposure, color, and output sharpening. Click to enlarge image.

Many PEN owners are making due with the 14-45mm kit lens (er, I mean the 14-42mm zoom) that they originally purchased with the camera. It's a good enough lens, for sure, but it does not have the reach or the focusing speed of the 14-150mm. And in terms of light gathering ability, the 14-42mm is f/3.5-5.6, while the 14-150mm is f/4-5.6. So you gain a lot with the newer zoom and give up hardly nothing.

Lens Performance in the Lab

There's a good lab test of the lens over at SLR Gear.com, and they conclude that: "For what it offers, the Olympus 14-150mm Æ’/4-5.6 is a very good lens, not the sharpest we've tested but certainly very good for a superzoom. It's marred by some high chromatic aberration at certain focal lengths, but for the wide range of focal lengths the lens offers, it's probably a small price to pay for the all-in-one versatility." In the field however, I found very few flaws that annoyed me. And I think that's sometimes the difference between a lab test and real life shooting.

Lens Performance in the Field

I've posted the results from one of my field tests on the TDS Flickr site. I treated these images like a do any real world test in that I made exposure adjustments, added output sharpening, etc. to make the image look the way I want. My question always is: "Will this lens let me create the type of images I want using my normal workflow?" The answer in this case is "Yes."

Most Important Observations

Here's what jumped out at me while shooting with with Olympus 14-150mm zoom:

  • The in-camera stabilization of the E-PL1 allowed me to shoot handheld at 300mm (150mm on the lens) and get sharp images. I think this is a big deal for travel photographers, photo journalists, and enthusiasts.
  • There was some slight vignetting at the longer focal lengths. I was not using a lens hood or protection filter.
  • Sharpness was excellent at all focal lengths with the lens stopped down to the midrange apertures. Sharpness was good at the extreme apertures.
  • This is not a lens I would recommend for Panasonic shooters (unfortunately), because it needs image stabilization, and for Olympus, that is built into the camera, not the lens. IS on Olympus cameras was terrific.
  • Color fidelity was excellent, chromatic flaws were minor. I was able to create some color fringing in high-contrast scenes at the extreme ends of the zoom range.
  • This is a terrific lens for shooting video. You can zoom while recording too.
  • Close up performance was good for this type of all-in-one lens. I have a few samples on the TDS Flickr site.
  • I highly recommend that you get the Olympus VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder ($250) for working in extreme lighting conditions. I think it is too difficult to accurately compose with the 14-150mm lens with just the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

Pros

  • Light, compact, quality zoom lens that has an effective focal length of 28-300mm.
  • Focusing is fast and sure.
  • Can be the only zoom lens that most enthusiasts ever need on their PENs.

Cons

  • Realistically, you also need the VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder to get the most out of this zoom. So total price becomes $600+$250=$850 if you don't already have the viewfinder.
  • E-P1 owners can't enjoy the full pleasure of this lens without the electronic viewfinder that isn't available for their camera.

Bottom Line

If you love shooting with your Olympus PEN camera, you're going to want this lens. It is all you need for most situations.



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Ever wonder which focus point your camera used on a particular shot? (Especially a photo where you thought the focus should be somewhere else.) In this short video I demonstrate how Aperture 3 can show you what your camera was thinking when it recorded a particular image. This works with most DSLRs that capture the focus metadata and save it. Take a look. It's handy.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.



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Just a Little Fireworks Fun

Between Canada Day celebrations and upcoming Fourth of July, fireworks are in the air. I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite pyro photos to keep everyone in the festive spirit.

So I've asked folks to post shots on the Lowepro Facebook Fan page so all can enjoy. Got a good one to show off?

Beijing Fireworks Captured this image during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. That hint of a structure you see is the Bird's Nest. Click for larger version.

If you want to capture great images during 4th of July celebrations, be sure to check out the article, It's That Time Again: How to Shoot Fireworks.



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This is the first major update for Photoshop CS5 that includes a number of bug fixes for both Mac and Windows users. You can review the details and download the software using the link above.

If you simply want to install the update, just launch Photoshop CS5, go to Help > Updates and run the Adobe Updater program. It will take it from there, as shown below.

CS5 Update Window


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