October 2013 Archives

Canon 70D Lives Up to the Hype

Canon EOS 70D with 40mm STM Lens

Having carried a Canon EOS 70D with the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens for some time now, I agree with the recent DP Review Gold Award for the enthusiast DSLR.

In terms of my "larger" cameras, this is my current favorite. And with the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens, it's a remarkably compact and versatile camera. I keep it in my Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 with the OM-D.

The 40mm on the 70D is my longer lens and the 17mm on the E-M5 is the wider. Depending on the situation, I grab the camera that has the most appropriate focal length.

The things I really like about the 70D and why it resides in my daily bag include:

  • The swing-out articulated touchscreen LCD. So versatile!
  • Built in flash with wireless controller combined with the wireless Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash makes for a potent on-the-go lighting kit.
  • Great autofocusing with both the optical viewfinder and via live view.
  • Terrific low light/high ISO performance.
  • Built-in WiFi for both camera control and picture transfer.
  • Accepts my entire catalog of Canon glass.

The enthusiast DSLR lives on. And I, along with DP Review, feel that Canon has created an excellent camera with the 70D.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

fotodiox-adapter.jpg

After having such great success using a lens adapter for my micro four thirds cameras, allowing me to mount Zeiss lenses on to the Olympus OM-D, I thought I'd do the same for my Pentax K-5. I quickly learned that all lens adapters are not created equal.

I ponied up $39 for a Fotodiox PRO Lens Mount Adapter that would let me mount my Contax Zeiss lenses on the Pentax K-5. I thought this would be particularly fun for studio work.

The adapter seems well made and everything mounted snugly. I ran a test using the $165 PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens against my Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 prime with Fotodiox adapter. As you look at the shots below, the Pentax lens image is on the far left, and the Zeiss with adapter shots are in the middle and on the right.

fotodiox-adapter-test.jpg

Clearly, the $165 Pentax kit lens outperformed the Zeiss with adapter. Not only that, I lost one f/stop of light (middle image) with the adapter, and had to compensate by opening up from f/5.6 to f/4 (right image) to get an equivalent exposure.

More bad news concerning image stabilization. Even though the K-5 has sensor based stabilization, it would not activate with the Fotodiox adapter. I used a tripod and self timer for the test shots, but in real life this would be an issue.

I'm sure I'll find something creative to do with the Fotodiox mount. But I don't think I'll be shooting product shots in the the studio with it.

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This week on The Digital Story podcast: New Photography Workshops for 2014; The Nimbleosity Report -- Has the Canon G-Series run its course? From the Photo Help Desk -- Which New MacBook Pro Laptop is Best for Photographers? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - New Workshops for the Coming Year - I've been working on the 2014 workshop season for a while now, and I think I have a very tempting line up.

  • High School Senior Portraits, Inside and Out - Feb.
  • Fine Art Photography - HDR and B&W - March
  • San Francisco Street Photography - May
  • Sonoma Coast Workshop - August
  • Fall Color with Safari West - Oct.

I talk about these events in the first segment of today's podcast.

Story #2 - Nimbleosity report on the Canon PowerShot G16 - Has the G Series run its course? I cut my teeth on digital photography with the Canon G1 and G2 cameras. I still have them. But as I've compared the latest member of this family to the competition, I'm wondering if the G Series has finally run out of gas. I go into detail in today's Nimbleosity Report.

Canon PowerShot G16

I compared the G16 to a direct competitor, the Fujifilm X20. The results were interesting.

They both weigh about the same. The X20 has the edge in image sharpness, sensor size, AF speed, and burst mode. The G16 has better spec for the LCD monitor, 240 fps video recording, and longer battery life. Plus the G16 includes built-in WiFi costs $50 less.

So is the G16 a worthy competitor? I answer in today's show. And don't forget to visit the official Nimble Photographer web site.

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: Which of the new MacBook Pros are best for photographers? Now that Apple offers Retina Displays for both the 13" and 15" models, which is best for photographers?

MacBook Pro Top View

Three considerations: 1) Budget: 13" runs from #1,299 to $1,799 while the 15" runs from $1,999 to $2,599. 2) Portability: which laptop fits in your ideal carrying solution? 3) Applications you use: the $2,599 MBP has both Intel Iris Pro Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics card. The 13" has Intel Iris Graphics. Photoshop and Aperture can take advantage of GPU acceleration. Lightroom does not. I sort this out in the third segment of today's show.

If you have a question for the Photo Help Desk team, visit PhotoHelpDesk.com.

Chuck Jones is the winner of the Nimble Photographer T-Shirt giveaway. He wrote, "I think my favorite item in the store is the cap. All of the items look great, but I wear caps all the time and this one has a classic look to it." Thanks Chuck for your feedback, and I hope you enjoy the T-Shirt.

New Ad tiles on TDS. If you're going to purchase from Amazon of B%H Photo, please click on the respective ad tile for those suppliers, located in the second column on every page of TheDigitalStory.com.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

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OM-D E-M1 Front View

Citing extensive customizability and super fast autofocus, DP Review awarded the Olympus OM-D E-M1 micro four thirds camera and overall score of 84 percent and a Gold award in their deep dive, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review.

They also liked the excellent image quality, rugged all weather construction, built-in WiFi, and the bright, sharp, electronic viewfinder. On the negative side, DP Review felt that the interface and controls can be overwhelming, auto focusing with Four Thirds lenses can be slow in dim conditions, and they weren't crazy about having only a single SD card slot.

From my Nimble Photographer point of view, I'm a bit concerned about bling bloat. The E-M1 has put on a bit of weight and will grow further with 4/3 lenses. Plus the base price for the body has expanded to $1,399 for the OM-D E-M1, compared to $999 for the OM-D E-M5. I'm actually surprised that more people haven't commented on the $400 increase.

That being said, the E-M1 looks like a heck of a terrific camera. DP Review leaves no stone unturned. So a Gold award from them has substantial weight... and in a good way.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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All 2014 TDS Workshops Are Sold Out! We will announce the 2015 Season in November.

The 2014 season will debut with five photography workshops ranging from the streets of San Francisco to the Fall colors of Sonoma County wine country.

San Francisco Night Scene Night shooting will be included in the SF Street Photography Workshop.

Our photography workshops are extremely high value, personalized events. Participation is limited to 8 attendees with hands-on instruction, multiple shooting sessions, post production lab time, and plenty of sharing and feedback.

You can get on the Reserve List now for the event of your choice by using the Send Me Info form in the middle of the Workshops page. By getting on the reserve list, you can save your place at the front of the line. Those on the reserve list have the opportunity (but not the obligation) to secure a seat for any of the listed workshops. You can learn more about how the Reserve List works.

Make 2014 the year that you treat yourself to an immersive photographic experience. Just you and a handful of peers focused on improving your craft and having a good time.

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Street shooting in San Francisco, exploring the Eastern Sierra, Fall color, Safari West... these are some of the topics for the 2015 The Digital Story Photography Workshop Season.

By getting on the reserve list, you can save your place at the front of the line. Those on the reserve list have the opportunity (but not the obligation) to secure a seat for the event of their choice. Using the Send Me Info form on the workshops page, simply choose the workshop you're interested in from the popup menu, then enter your name and email. Click on the Submit button. That's all there is to it.

I'll send you a confirmation letter to let you know you're on the list. At that time, you can respond with any questions you have about the event of your choice. Reservation forms with itineraries typically go out 90-120 days before the event. At that point you can sign up for the workshop and pay the course fees.

We specialize in personal service. So we're here to answer any questions you have. Use the Send Me Info form to get the ball rolling.

Hope to see you in 2015. We're going to have a great time!

Light-Footed Nature Photography

October is a wonderful time of year to immerse in nature. And outdoor photography doesn't have to be a burdensome affair. I was out shooting on Tuesday morning with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and just two lenses: the Olympus 75mm f1.8 and the Olympus 17mm f1.8. All fit comfortably in my svelte Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 shoulder bag.

Grape Leaf Oct 2013 Grape Leaf - Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus 75mm lens, ISO 200, F/2 - Photo by Derrick Story.

I did include a few accessories, such as a polarizer, small flash, Joby Gorillapod, iPad mini, and a couple snack bars. I dressed in layers so I could adjust my clothing as the environment changed. I wore the Nimble Photographer Walking Man cap to keep my head warm and the low-angled sun out of my eyes. In one of the side pockets of the Urban Reporter, I carried a water bottle to keep me hydrated while working.

Self Portrait in Dry Creek Self portrait with my light-footed nature photography kit.

Could I capture every type of nature shot with this rig? Of course not. Some days I take big tripods and big cameras. But other times, I just want to enjoy nature and bring home some images. And those are the times that I love traveling light.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This camera kit has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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iPad mini with Retina Display

Apple clearly designed the iPad mini with Retina display for nimble photographers. At .75 pound (341 grams) and fitting in an 8" x 6" area in your camera bag, you can have high resolution editing, publishing, and sharing with you at all times.

I was particularly happy to see the A7 processor included in this second generation tablet. Not only will it help power the 2048-by-1536 resolution display (at 326 pixels per inch), but it will make our photo editing a more pleasurable experience.

This will be the model where you'll want to spend the extra money for the WiFi + Cellular. I recommend the 32GB mini ($629) as the entry level model for nimble photographers. If you can afford to move up to 64GBs at $729, you'll probably be glad you did over the long haul.

With the added connectivity, you're not dependent on flaky WiFi networks while on the go. I think there's also an added level of security using cellular instead of public wireless. And in a pinch, your iPad can serve as an Internet access point for your computer and other devices. If you're using AT&T as a provider for your iPhone, then I would select Verizon for your iPad. That will expand your coverage area.

I would also take advantage of Cloud storage services, such as Photo Stream, Everpix, and Dropbox to help keep your mini from gobbling up too many megabytes on the device itself.

Since the second gen iPad mini won't be available until November, we have some time now to gather our resources. Highly recommended.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Dot Releases for Aperture and iPhoto

iphoto-aperture.jpg

Keeping with its current maintenance approach for photo applications, Apple released Aperture 3.5 and iPhoto 9.5. Each update is a combination of new features and bug fixes.

Aperture 3.5 Update

Under the heading, "We Knew the Other Shoe was Going to Drop," Apple replaced Google Maps with Apple Maps in Places. They added support for iCloud Photo Sharing, including the ability to post videos to shared photo streams and to have multiple subscribers contribute to a shared stream. And they provided the ability to sync and add galleries to Smugmug. iOS 7 filters also found their way into Aperture 3.5. Beyond that, the update focuses mainly on bug fixes.

iPhoto 9.5 Update

Many of the same themes we saw with the latest Aperture apply to iPhoto too. Beyond that, iPhoto users now can enjoy 64-bit processing, a redesigned interface for printing, and video sharing for Flickr users. Then of course, lots of bug fixes.

Both Aperture 3.5 and iPhoto 9.5 require Mac OS X 10.9. If you haven't upgraded to Mavericks yet, then you'll have to hold off on the new versions of the photo applications.

Full Version Updates?

Many users are asking about full version updates, especially Aperture 4, and when they will be released. That's difficult to predict. Since the introduction of the Mac App Store, Apple seems content to work with dot releases that are incremental and free. Will there ever be an Aperture 4? Outside of Apple, I don't think anyone knows.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, take a look at Portrait Retouching with Aperture. You may want to check out my other Aperture titles, including Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Sony drops the full frame bomb with the a7; The Nimbleosity Report - Panasonic's diminutive GM-1; From the Photo Help Desk - How can I repair a scratch on my camera's LCD screen? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Sony's full frame a7 - Now you can have your compact system camera and full frame sensor too. As early as November, well-heeled shooters will be able to order the Sony Alpha a7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens for $1,998. More lenses are promised, although they will not be cheap.

Highlights from this remarkable camera include:

  • 24.3MP full frame Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 3" tiltable TFT LCD with 1,229K dots
  • 2.4M-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Fast hybrid AF; 5 fps burst rate
  • Wi-Fi and NFC
  • 1080/60p video with uncompressed output
  • 14-bit RAW output

A few drawbacks to consider. Oddly enough the a7 does not ship with a battery charger. You have to recharge in-camera. The new FE lenses would be available for months, and when they are, they will be pricy: (FE 35mm F2.8 ZA $799.99, FE 55mm F1.8 ZA $999.99, FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS $1,199.99 (coming in early February), FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 ZA OSS $499.99, FE 70-200mm F4 OSS G (Pricing and release date TBA). And even though you can you existing E-mount lenses, they will only work in a crop mode on the A7/A7r, since they were not designed to cover a full-frame sensor.

Story #2 - Nimbleosity report on the tiny Panasonic GM1 mirrorless M 4/3 camera with 12-32mm Lens ($749). Amazing, roughly the size of the Sony RX100 compact camera, this little guy is the smallest micro four thirds camera to date.

But there are tradeoffs for this pint-sized wonder. Top shutter speed is 1/500th, no in-body image stabilization, no 1080p video, so-so battery life, no option for electronic viewfinder, and no hot shoe.

Personally, I'd much rather have the Panasonic GX7, even though it costs $250 more, the feature set is much more appealing.

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: How do I mitigate a scratched LCD on my camera. I have a home brew recipe to help.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (32 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Zebras Playing

We spent the afternoon exploring the hills above Santa Rosa, CA at Safari West searching for African game. Among our many finds were these two Zebras playing.

Zebras Playing Canon 70D, 70-200mm f/2.8, ISO 800, 1/1250th, f/2.8 - Photo by Derrick Story

The rest of our TDS Fall Color Workshop crew also captured compelling images during our afternoon shoot. The combination of good light, great subjects, and beautiful setting made our jobs as photographers so enjoyable. The Fall workshop will be on the calendar again for 2014.

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That wonderful 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II sensor that powers the Fujifilm X20 is now available in a smaller package: the just-announced Fujifilm XQ1 ($499).

Fujifilm XQ1 Family

Weighing in at 7 ounces and measuring only 3.94" x 2.32" x 1.30″, the XQ1 is truly shirt pocketable, but captures 12 MP Jpeg and RAW files. Its 25-100mm zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 at the wide end, but quickly diminishes to f/4.9 for telephoto shots. The compact includes a 3" 920,000 dot LCD, image stabilization, 1080p video capture, and built-in WiFi.

The XQ1 competes with the popular Canon Power Shot S120 ($449) that has a smaller sensor and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II ($748) that has a larger sensor, but also has a higher price tag.

Keep in mind, that unlike its bigger brother the X20, the XQ1 only has an LCD for composition, and no accessory viewfinder options. But like the X20, it does have that terrific 2/3" X-Trans sensor. So if you're looking for excellent image quality at a moderate price for a luxury compact, you may want to further investigate the XQ1.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Long Exposure, Streaking Lights

Long exposures for cityscapes are easy if you have a way to steady the camera. And the results can be beautiful.

San Francisco Night Scene

The most important thing to remember is to shoot RAW so you can adjust the color later and play with the highlights and shadows. For example, I used the Tungsten WB setting for this shot.

You'll probably need a bit of exposure compensation too. Seems like I'm usually at -1 or more. And keep your ISO low. You'll need it at 100 or 200 in order to get the long exposures and to control image noise.

And finally, if you don't have a remote release, use the self timer. That's what I did for this shot with my OM-D E-M5 and the 17mm f.1.8 lens.

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Nimble Photographer Logo

The OM-D with 17mm lens that I used for this shot has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

Samsung NX300 Pros and Cons

The Samsung NX300 with 18-55mm OIS lens ($625 US) provides a legitimate alternative to the Sony NX and Olympus OM-D series. It's large APS-C sensor, sharp kit lens, and plethora of intelligent controls are worth investigating if you're thinking about a new Compact System Camera.

In my review of the NX300 for TechHive titled, Samsung NX300 review: Shoot like a pro, share like a teenager, I talk about its excellent image quality, intelligent WiFi integration, and creative Smart Modes. Bottom line, it stacks up like this:

Pros

  • Large APS-C sensor with excellent high ISO performance
  • High quality 18-55mm OIS kit lens (recommended over the non-stabilized 20-50mm kit lens)
  • Built-in WiFi with companion Android and iOS apps
  • Creative controls such as Smart Mode and Smart Filters
  • Excellent manual focusing
  • Excellent value for compact system camera with APS-C sensor ($625 with OIS zoom)

Cons

  • LCD-only composition, No accessory viewfinder option
  • Lack of built-in flash
  • In-camera battery charging unless you buy accessory charger

Bottom Line

Legitimate competitor to mirrorless cameras from Panasonic, Olympus, and Sony.

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Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

Sony a7 Mirrorless Camera

With the announcement of the Sony a7 full frame mirrorless camera, could an Olympus model be far behind?

Here's my thinking. Olympus already uses sensors designed by Sony for the OM-D series. Plus, Sony actually has a sizable investment in the company. And Olympus has hinted that full frame is on their radar.

The difficulty, of course, will be lenses. Sony will manage to get a few full frame lenses out the door in 2013, but their roadmap doesn't really fill out until 2014-15. Olympus would have some serious decisions to make concerning glass if they decided to go the full frame route.

And finally, there's that large capital investment to launch such a product line. Sony has vast resources. Olympus, well, not so much.

And despite all of this, I could see an Olympus full frame camera in the future. Because the other thing that Olympus and Sony share is creativity. Maybe it will be an OM-D alpha-1...

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Pentax's crazy K-3 DSLR, The Nimble Photographer lives, Easy hair light for portraits - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Impressive Pentax K-3 DSLR ($1,295) brings new innovation to the DSLR world. At the top of the feature list is the anti-aliasing simulator that applies microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the subpixel level during image exposure, generating the same level of moiré-reduction effect as an optical anti-aliasing filter. And it's adjustable. Plus you get:

  • Brand-new sensor with approximately 24 effective megapixels and a new imaging engine
  • AF module with 27 auto focus points
  • High-speed continuous shooting with a maximum speed of approximately 8.3 images per second
  • In-body image stabilization
  • 3.2-inch LCD monitor with approximately 1,037,000 dots
  • Dustproof, weather-resistant body construction perfect for outdoor shooting
  • Dual SD card slots for memory card flexibility
  • USB 3.0 interface

What don't you get? There's no built-in WiFi and the LCD does not have touchscreen capability.

Story #2 - The Nimble Photographer Lives! What started as a fun idea into 2010 has now become a full-blown website and community. Today is the debut of thenimblephotographer.com.

I Am WiFi Enabled

The site features a Journal with comments, a store for Nimble photographer gear, Walkabout for photo sharing, Fit Kits to take you inside the nimble photographer camera bag configurations, and believe it or not, more. I tell you all about it in the second segment of today's show.

Story #3 - Easy Hair Light for Portraits - Adding a highlight to the hair gives that professional touch to portraits. But controlling the amount of light is not always easy. After lots of experimentation with just about every technique available, I have settled on a handy variable controlled LED light for hair lights. You can see an example of this technique here. I explain in the third segment of today's show.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

The Nimble Photographer Sets Up Camp

The Nimble Photographer

It started with a YouTube video in 2010, and has gained momentum ever since. Now The Nimble Photographer has set up camp with a website that features a journal, photos, store, and a variety of gear configurations for those who subscribe to the motto: "Take only pictures; leave only footsteps."

The Journal entries are personal notes from a wandering photographer, but you can leave comments on topics of interest to you. Photos are displayed in the Walkabout section where my latest Instagram and Flicker pictures appear.

Walking Man Hat

The Nimble Store is a first for me. But I've had a blast creating T-Shirts such as I'm WiFi Enabled, a custom cap with an embroidered Walking Man icon, and a limited edition messenger bag. At this time we can only ship to U.S. addresses. But I hope to expand in the future as I find a way to reduce overseas shipping costs.

And finally, on the Fit Kits page, I display a variety of packing configurations that have a high nimbleosity rating. After you've had a chance to view the different kits, you might want to share a photo of your Nimble Photographer tools. Use the Contact Form to send me a link to the photo, or send it to me via thenimblephotographer@gmail.com.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you, and hearing about yours.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

FujiFilm X20 Camera Top View

When I walk out the door for a morning walk, the camera that I slide in my front pocket is the Fujifilm X20 compact camera. Why? Aside from its terrific image quality and handsome good looks, it's the optical viewfinder.

Angled morning light is great for photography. But it's hard on LCD screens. And I need a compact camera that allows me to comfortably compose the picture outdoors. The optical viewfinder for the X20 is perfect for these conditions.

Two Tress in Shilo "Two Trees in Shilo" - Fujifilm X20, ISO 200, f/4, RAW - Photo by Derrick Story.

Fujifilm's viewfinder zooms with the lens so I have a relatively accurate field of view. Plus its readouts keep me apprised of the current camera settings. It's not as accurate as the framing with a DSLR. But then again, the X20 fits in my front pants pocket and only weights 12 ounces.

I'm lucky that I get to use different cameras for different situations. And when I need a pocketable compact for a morning hike, the Fujifilm X20 is definitely my first choice.


Flickr Essential Training 2013 - I explore the entire Flickr universe, mobile and computer, in my lynda.com title, Flickr Essential Training. Stop by and take a look.

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Tripods for Mirrorless Cameras

Today on Photo Help Desk, bureau chief Jeremy Verinsky recommends a variety of tripods for mirrorless cameras. If you want to travel light, but steady, these selections have a high nimbleosity rating.


PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

Canon 70D Live View

Have I noticed an improvement in autofocusing, both in terms of speed and accuracy, after a couple weeks of shooting with the new Canon EOS 70D camera? The short answer is yes.

The highlights can be summarized in just a few points.

  • Live View focusing for stills and video is faster and more accurate.
  • Since Live View is on par with optical AF, I'm using it far more, especially in the studio.
  • I haven't noticed any downside to using Dual Pixel AF.

If you want to see an excellent report on Dual Pixel AF accuracy, take a look at Dual Pixel AF vs. Conventional AF accuracy at DP Review. It's a terrific deep dive into the AF system on the Canon 70D.

Bottom line is this: Canon delivers a top notch AF system in an affordable DSLR body $1,200 US. Live View focusing is further enhanced by the 70D's Vari-angle 3-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1,040,000 dots. And the system works great with practically any existing EF or EF-S lens.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

Often when we shoot portraits, we find ourselves with a series of images that require minor adjustments. In Aperture, you can work on one of those photos, then apply those edits to remaining shots in the series. And you even have control over which edits are applied, and which are not.

This tutorial is from my Portrait Retouching with Aperture training on lynda.com. I walk you through the batch processing step by step, so you can apply this technique right now.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, take a look at Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, visit our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

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Canon Speedlite 270EX II Flash

The one flash that I always have stashed in my camera bag is the Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash ($149) because it is one of my most versatile photo accessories.

This pocket-sized wonder weighs just a bit over 5 ounces, yet can help me light a variety of scenes. Here are its highlights:

  • Bounce Head - This is a rarity in pocket flashes. The head can be angled upward for bounce flash. I often attach a white business card to the head for a bounce/fill portrait.
  • Manual Zoom Head - Coverage can be switched between normal and telephoto.
  • Slave Capability - Not only will the 270EX II fire wirelessly from my Canon 70D, it can function in an A/B configuration. The 270 EXII is programmed as Group A, just set the other Canon flash to Group B, and you can control the ratios between them.
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  • Flash Exposure Compensation - From the Flash menu on your Canon camera, you have 3 stops flash exposure compensation for over and under control.
  • Flash Release Function - You can trigger the camera wirelessly from the flash via a 2-second delay. Very handy when you don't have a helper to hold the flash for you.

The Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash includes a soft case that also holds a mini flash stand with mounting socket in the bottom. It only requires 2 AA batteries. And I never leave home without it.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

pentax-k3-models.jpg

Forget having to choose between anti-aliasing or non-anti-aliasing models for your high end DSLR. Pentax just announced the Pentax K-3 ($1,296) that features a ground-breaking anti-aliasing simulator.

Pentax writes: "The simulator applies microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the subpixel level during image exposure, generating the same level of moiré-reduction effect as an optical anti-aliasing filter. Unlike an optical anti-aliasing filter that always creates the identical result, this innovative simulator allows the user not only to switch the anti-aliasing filter effect on and off, but also to adjust the level of the effect. This allows the user to set the ideal effect for a particular scene or subject."

Additionally, the K-3 offers:

  • 23.35MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Newly designed SAFOX 11 AF module with 27 auto focus points
  • Full HD 1080i/p video recording
  • 3.2" 1,037k-Dot LCD monitor
  • Optical 0.95x Mag. pentaprism viewfinder
  • Continuous shooting up to 8.3 fps
  • In-Camera Shake Reduction Stabilization
  • Dual SD memory card slots
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy body

The K-3 doesn't have built-in WiFi, but Pentax did develop the FLU card: "This SDHC memory card offers wireless LAN connection to a compatible smartphone. Via a designated Web browser, the user can inspect a live-view image, release the K-3's shutter, shift the AF sensor point, and check images recorded on the card using the smartphone screen." We'll see how this approach compares once I've had a chance to test it.

Overall, this camera looks like a winner. I've used the Pentax K-2 extensively, and this model improves upon what I considered one of the best APS-C DSLRs available. I'll try to get my hands on a K-3 for testing.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Adobe hacked, Cloud services for your photos, and How to Brighten Teeth - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Adobe Hacked - Recently, attackers removed from Adobe servers certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. What does this mean for Adobe customers and Cloud-based services in general?

Story #2 - Cloud Services for Your Photos - Interesting topic in light the Adobe hacked story. After lots of testing, I'm still of the belief that the best backup system is the one you set-up and forget about.

I share my experiences with Apple's Photo Stream, EverPix, and Dropbox's latest feature, automated backup of your iPhoto library.

Story #3 - Tooth Brightening in Post Production - Brightening someone's smile is one of the nice things that you can do for your subjects during image editing. For best results, a light touch is required. In the third story I share my tips for an attractive, natural smile.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (37 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Top shelf mirrorless cameras are tempting enthusiasts to set down their DSLRs and take notice. We've heard a lot about the Olympus OM-D E-M1, Panasonic GH3, and Sony NEX-7. Great cameras indeed, but pricy too. The E-M1 lists for $1,399 without lens, the GH3 is selling for $1,298 sans glass, and the NEX-7 is available for $1,098, body only.

If those numbers are a bit rich for your budget, here are three CSCs that have plenty of star power, but without the big price tags. They offer excellent performance and options, and cost hundreds less than the flagship models.

GX7s_back_slant_LCD_2_700.jpg

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

Panasonic pulled out all of the stops with the DMC-GX7, featuring a 16 MP Digital Live MOS sensor that sells for $898.

Highlight features include a 3" 1,040k-dot tilting touchscreen LCD and a 90 degree tilting 2,764k-dot EVF, all within a sleek body. Unlike most of the other G-series cameras, the GX7 includes in-body image stabilization instead of relying solely on optical IS. And we love that it has both built-in wireless and NFC connectivity. Its handsome good looks add the finishing touch to a very complete package.

Based on its design and specs, I think it's one of the most tempting Panasonics to date.

Samsung NX 300 top.jpg

Samsung NX300

The Samsung NX300 gets you a lot of resolution (and functionality) for the money. The 20.3 MP APS-C sensor delivers the goods in practically any lighting condition. The kit, which includes a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens, is selling for $799. For that reasonable price, you get more pixels than the Micro Four Thirds bodies from Olympus and Panasonic. plus a sharp, stabilized zoom lens.

I was very impressed with the image quality of the NX300. The tilting LCD adds flexibility while composing the shots. The downside is that there isn't an electronic viewfinder as with the GX7. The WiFi is easy to use and allows for both remote camera control and file transfer. But the real kicker with the NX300 is its Smart Mode that provides options similar to traditional scene modes, but on steriods. Be sure to try Beauty Face and Light Trace.

sony-nex-5t-front.jpg

Sony Alpha NEX-5T

Sony makes two basic flavors of their Alpha line of Compact System Cameras. A handsome lower priced model is the Alpha NEX-5T that houses a 16.1MP APS-C Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and sells for $548.

The NEX-5T includes lots of goodies such as built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, continuous shooting rate of 10 fps, tilting 3" 921.6k-dot LCD, plus fast autofocusing and high ISO performance. And if you've never experienced Sony's sweep panorama, you're in for a treat.

As with the Samsung NX300, there's no electronic viewfinder. But unlike the NX300, Sony managed to squeeze a pop-up flash into this very compact body.

Bottom Line

Among these three, I find the Panasonic GX7 the most tempting of the bunch, and it's also the most expensive (but still less than flagship counterparts). I like the tilting LCD and EVF, plus with built-in image stabilization, there's a huge catalog of lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, and independents that will perform well on this camera body.

But if you want a slightly larger sensor and save even more money, both the Samsung and the Sony are excellent options. You'll have to compose solely on the LCD, but these cameras are feature rich and provide outstanding image quality.

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Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

Canon 70D Top View

Many enthusiast photographers wrestle with the decision whether or not to get a kit lens when purchasing a new DSLR. I think this consideration becomes even more important with the new Canon EOS 70D. Why? Because the STM lenses perform noticeably better than standard EF-S zooms on the 70D. At the top of the list is how quietly the STM lenses focus.

Today on Photo Help Desk, Craig asked if he should invest in the Canon 18-135mm STM when purchasing his new Canon 70D. His issue was that he already owns excellent glass that covers the same focal range.

Our response on Photo Help Desk was that we think the investment is a good idea, based on three reasons. So, our short answer is "yes;" add the 18-135mm STM to the kit. If you're interested in why we think this is a good idea, check out our response at Photo Help Desk. We cover this, and many other interesting topics, there every day.


PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.


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Lowepro just updated one of the most popular series of its camera bags. The new Nova Sport AW is now available in three sizes: 7L, 17L, and 35L.

nova-sport-walking.jpg

The Nova bags are designed to protect your gear in just about any situation, from a weekend trip with the family to a portrait assignment in the local park. Top features include, roomy, removable camera compartment, All Weather cover, dedicated tablet/laptop sleeve, attractive high tech fabric, and lots of pockets.

nova-sport-unloading.jpg

The pricing is also attractive. The Nova Sport 7L AW lists for $59.99, the 17L AW for $79.99, and the big 35L is selling for about 110 dollars.

I really like the removable camera box approach that Lowepro is embracing for its new bags. I think it makes them even more versatile.

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When you think about adding a little sparkle to a portrait subject's smile, think color. By using the color controls in Aperture with brushes, you can subtly brighten teeth for a pleasing, natural smile.

The following tutorial on how to do just that is from my Portrait Retouching with Aperture on lynda.com. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to artistically brighten a smile with Aperture's retouching tools.

This is just one of the many retouching techniques I cover in Portrait Retouching with Aperture.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

You may want to check out my other Aperture titles, including Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: The new Lowepro Urban Reporter photo bag, Does the iPhone 5S camera live up to its hype?,and Ziploc bags - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 camera bag is my current favorite compact system camera bag, and I love the Urban Reporter 250 for my DSLR kit. Both bags have soft texture fabric exteriors, leather touch points, and metal hardware. They are light, comfortable, and wonderfully designed for the Nimble Photographer. I go into detail in today's second segment.

Camera Filters in iOS 7

Story #2 - Is the iPhone 5S camera worth getting excited about? After a week of shooting, my opinion is that the iPhone 5S camera lives up to the hype. Here's what's impressed me.

  • User interface - The powerful hardware combined with the new Camera app in iOS 7 is a winning combination. The camera is just so easy to use.
  • Slow Motion Video that really works. Not only on the iPhone itself, but you can publish it to YouTube or incorporate in iMovie projects.
  • Amazing Panoramas - The dynamic exposure panorama capability automatically calculates and adjusts exposure variations across the scene as you capture the panorama. This leads to stunning images right out of the camera.
  • True Tone Flash - the iPhone 5S sports two LEDs, one white and one amber, and they are used in varying degrees to create natural coloration under a variety of conditions. And it works.
  • Fast performance - Press the home button, swipe upward and tap the camera icon: you're ready to shoot in about a second. Focusing is fast, and burst mode is blazing. Everything happens quickly with this camera.
  • It's Fun - I know this sounds like a weird feature, but the iPhone 5S is flat out fun to shoot with. Great performance, fun features such as filters and slo mo video, and instant results.

Slow motion video capture with iPhone 5S.

No wonder compact cameras are struggling.

Story #3 - Why you should carry a Ziploc bag in your camera kit. It's probably one of your least expensive photo accessories, but it can save you in so many ways. I explain why in the third segment.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (37 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.