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I just read an interesting field report on ShootTokyo titled, The Panasonic Lumix Smart Camera CM1, where the author field-tested Panasonic's Android smartphone that features a 1-inch 20MP sensor and 28mm equivalent Leica lens. Options include saving in RAW format. The device costs 1,000 Euros and is unlocked.

On one level, the CM1 reopens the conversation about needing a dedicated compact camera, especially if you already have a smartphone in your pocket. The practicality, I think, depends on what type of photographer you are.

I know many people who are perfectly happy using the iPhone or Samsung S4 as their primary camera. They are capturing the interesting moments in life with a device that's always with them. I also take a lot of photos with my iPhone 5S. But when I step out the door for an afternoon walk or to run errands, I put my Canon PowerShot S110 in my back pocket (which is currently on special for $179, BTW).

Why? Primarily because I need more camera than what my iPhone can provide. I want an optical zoom, mode dial, and yes, RAW format. The Panasonic CM1 does inch closer to bridging this gap, especially with the RAW option.

But then, what kind of phone is it? Wouldn't it be ironic I had to carry a second device to serve as my smartphone?

We dream of having everything we want in one package. But the fact of the matter is, it's tough to be a world class smartphone and camera in one tiny device. And how much are we willing to spend for such a convenience? That being said, it looks like the Panasonic CM1 has brought us one step closer.


More Help on Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single memory.

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What initially attracted me to Kenu Stance was that it did not require an adapter or special case to mount to an iPhone. Its MicroMount inserts directly into the iPhone's Lightning port. Combined with the Stance's lightweight (1.2 ounces) and compact (3.1") design, you can carry it with you anywhere.

The Stance can also be configured as a stand for watching videos on the iPhone. And its ball head allows for versatile positioning for photography.

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And if all of that wasn't good enough, the Stance includes a bottle opener. So when it's time to celebrate your great shot with a sip of your favorite microbrew, you're opener will already be in hand.

The Stance is available directly from the Kenu site for $29.95.


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

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One of the exciting enhancements in iOS 8 for photographers is "Photo Extensions." What that means is that 3rd party developers, such as the creators of Camera+, can enable their editing tools to be accessed within Apple's Photos App.

Photo Extentions opens up a whole new experience for photographers. Here's how to use them.

  • Open an image in Photos App, then tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  • Tap on the "more" icon in the upper left corner of the app. It's a circle around 3 dots (as shown in the top illustration).
  • In the screen that appears at the bottom of the screen, tap on More, then enable the app that includes the Photo Extensions that you want to use. In my case, it was Camera+.
  • Camera+ will now reside in the bottom popup screen. Tap on its icon to access its editing tools.
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  • Edit your photo using the tools in the set of extensions you've selected (as shown in the bottom photo). The changes you make to the image will be saved automatically to the camera roll.

Your edits are non-destructive. So regardless what you do with these new tools, you can always revert to original if needed.

This functionality is a preview of things to come on the Mac with the release of Yosemite. The new desktop Photos App will also have extensibility. It will be interesting to see how this changes desktop editing for Mac users.


More Help Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single memory.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

WD My Passport Wireless HD Review

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The WD My Passport Wireless HD ($179) is a compact, spinning platter hard drive with built-in WiFi and a DNLA server. It wirelessly connects computers, tables, and smartphones, and includes USB 3.0 for hard wire access. Its built-in battery and SD card reader round out an impressive feature set for mobile photographers.

After 2 weeks of testing, it has earned a permanent home in my everyday camera bag and will be accompanying me to PhotoPlus Expo on assignment. The WD Wireless isn't perfect, but it is impressive.

Wireless Options

You have three wireless connectivity options, each useful depending on your situation: Direct Connection, Hotspot, and Home Network.

Direct Connection establishes a link between you and the My Passport via its WiFi server. The advantage is fast bandwidth. The disadvantage is that the Internet is not available using this method.

Hotspot leverages an existing network allowing both communication with the My Passport and online activity. Others on the network do not have access to your hard drive. You most likely give up a little performance, but gain Internet access. This is the method I use most often.

Home Network also leverages an external network, but makes the drive visible to all who have access to it. Great for sharing work among users in an office or around the house.

Seeing Drive Content via iOS

wd-dashboard.jpg WD Dashboard as shown in Safari on an iPad Mini.

Once you've connected to the My Passport via Settings, you can use the WD My Cloud app to customize the hard drive and access its content. Plus you can monitor battery life, drive capacity, and other vital signs.

I also log-in to its server as an admin via the browser on my iPad for even more configuration options. The dashboard is well designed and easy to use.

Backing Up Photos

I have the My Passport set up to automatically backup the photos from any SD card I insert into its reader. All of the content is copied to the hard drive and organized in folders using this hierarchy: SD Card Imports > SDCard_XXXXX > DCIM > 100OLYMP > images.

images-from-memory-card.jpg Images copied to the My Passport drive via its SD card reader and viewed on an iPad.

The WD My Cloud app can display the Jpegs, but not the RAW files. However, the RAW files are there for when you return from your trip. The simplest method is to shoot RAW+Jpeg, use the Jpegs while on the road, and tap the RAWs at home.

You can copy an image to your device's Camera Roll by selecting it, then tapping the Download icon. Other sharing options include Email, Print, and Open In.

Being able to backup photos from the camera's memory card, then view them on your mobile device is the killer feature I've been waiting for.

More Functions Than I Can List

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In addition to the photographer-friendly goodies, you can stream music and video via the drive's built-in DNLA media server. I also store work documents that I can securely read while on the road, even if I don't have cloud services available. And, now while on the plane, I have dozens of movies to choose from instead of just the one or two my iPad could accommodate.

And if you wish, you can use other apps, such as MoliPlayer HD to view your content. Any software that is DLNA compliant will work.

The battery life is good, about 4-5 hours. The WiFi access point remains active, even when not being used, as long as the device is booted up. The My Passport is also easy to recharge. I've used its compact wall plug as well as my solar Waka Waka charger with great success. WD did a good job with the battery technology for this unit.

A Few Quirks

The drive ships with a dummy SD card in the reader slot. Remove it to activate WiFi. Otherwise the drive will try to read the dummy card. And you don't get an indication of when the drive has finished backing up an SD card when in Automatic mode. I've been leaving it in the reader for about 5 minutes, just to be safe. In the future, I could test the actual copy time using the WD My Cloud app in manual copy mode.

The user interface is robust, but it is a bit odd at times. For example, you can create new folders to organize your work using the iOS app. But in order to put files in the new folder, you have to select > copy > paste. I wasn't used to copy/paste for moving files around. But once I figured it out, it was easy to remember.

You can also back up images from your iOS device to the My Passport drive. To do so, select Add Photo, navigate to the image in your Camera Roll, and tap Upload. The file will be copied to the drive at root level.

To move it to the desired folder, tap Select > Cut > (navigate to the directory) Paste. It's a bit weird, but it works.

Bottom Line

The WD My Passport Wireless HD allows me to travel with just my iPad and iPhone, leaving the laptop behind. Yet, when I return home, it connects to my MacBook Pro via USB 3.0 or wireless... my choice. I'm impressed with its feature set, design, and battery life. Quite honestly, it's the best new gadget I've tested in a while.


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The WD My Passport Wireless HD has a very high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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The new Photos app in iOS 8 not only adds functionality to our iPhones and iPads, but it's a preview of things to come in Mac OS X Yosemite. So it's worth a look at its image editing tools. Here's a tour on my iPad Mini with Retina Display.

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Basic Editing Tools

Most enthusiast photographers will want to head over to the Light/Color/B&W panel that is activated by tapping on the icon that is fourth from the top. Apple logically displays options for Light, Color, and B&W - the basics of image editing.


Adjusting with the Light Tools

Tap on Light and you can make a global adjustment by sliding up and down on the thumbnails that represent tonal adjustments. It works fine, but the real goodies are revealed by tapping on the menu icon beneath them.

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Now it gets interesting. There are six additional adjustments that you can play with just by tapping on them. Here's what they do:

  • Exposure - Adjusts the bright values of the image. For those familiar with Histograms, Exposure effects the right side of the graph.
  • Highlights - Enables recovery of highlight detail. If you have tones that are "blown out" in the brightest areas of the image, this will help you bring them back.
  • Shadows - Helps you recover lost detail in the darkest areas of the photo.
  • Brightness - This is a midtone luminance adjustment. For those familiar with Histograms, Brightness effects the middle of the graph.
  • Contrast - Impacts the bright areas and dark areas at the same time. Increasing contrast makes the darks darker and the brights brighter. Decreasing contrast does just the opposite.
  • Black Point - Adjusts the dark areas of the image. For those familiar with Histograms, Black Point effects the left side of the graph.


Adjusting with the Color Tools

As with Light, you can make an overall color adjustment by sliding up and down on the color thumbnails. Tap on the menu icon beneath them, and there are three additional adjustments: Saturation, Contrast, and Cast. Here's what they do.

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  • Saturation - Increases or decreases the intensity of the color for all values.
  • Contrast - This is a new control, and it behaves similar to Saturation, but also impacts the tonal values. I like this new effect.
  • Cast - It's not really warm to cool, or magenta to green, but more of a hybrid color adjustment that seems to combine the two. Bottom line, if your color is a bit off, this slider is designed to help you correct it.


Adjusting with the B&W Tools

The engineers at Apple must like B&W photography. The tools here are pretty sophisticated. Here's what they've included.

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  • Intensity - This adjustment attacks the color conversion to B&W. As you slide it up and down, you'll notice that it effects the colored areas of the image, but doesn't have much impact on the neutral tones.
  • Neutrals - On the other hand, Neutrals has a powerful effect on the whites. So you have a separate control to work with the conversion of the brightest objects in the image.
  • Tone - This slider seems to impact everything in the image: blacks, whites, and middle tones. It's almost like a contrast slider for B&W.
  • Grain - Do you want to add a little grit to your image. Maybe Tri-X pushed to ASA 800? Grain is your slider for that.

    • General Tips

      You can view the original version of the image by tapping and holding on it. Lift your finger and you're returned to the edited version.

      The tool bar can be positioned on any side of the frame. Rotate your iPad to place it on the side that works best for you.

      When cropping, you can pinch to zoom the image in the frame. Very handy. You can lock-in aspect rations by tapping the icon in the lower right corner next to Cancel.

      There's no sharpening feature (that I could find) at this time. For that, you'll need to move over to another app.


      Final Thoughts

      Overall all, Photos App in iOS 8 is a big step forward. I like the tools that are there now. And I'm hoping for more to come with future updates.


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      Photos for iOS 8 has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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

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If you haven't checked-in with Olympus OI Share (2.4) for a while, the app has evolved into a full-featured remote control for WiFi-enabled PENs and OM-Ds. I'm using it with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 ($699) with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ zoom ($349). More on the lens choice in a moment.

OI Share works on both smartphones and tablets, and it enables you to set exposure mode, white balance, exposure compensation, drive mode, ISO, and of course, trip the shutter. The application is organized into four basic areas: Remote Control, Import Photos, Edit Photo, and Add Geotag. My focus here is the Remote Control mode.

Review Your Settings

Set up the app by tapping on the gear icon in the upper right corner to reveal Settings. Tap on Remote Control. One of the defaults that I change is Live View Quality. Out of the box, it's set for Speed Priority. But I think the image on my iPhone or iPad screen looks terrible with this selection. I recommend Image Quality Priority. Unless you're having performance problems, it makes capture far more enjoyable to view.

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When it's time to take pictures, enable WiFi on the camera and set up your mobile device by scanning the QR code on the camera's LCD screen. Keep in mind that you need to access the WiFi network that the camera creates in order use remote control. Then launch the OI Share app.

Zoom In and Out

If you have a power zoom lens (which I recommend for remote use), then you can zoom in and out by using the control that appears on the left side of the screen. This is very handy for fine-tuning your composition when you're not within reach of the camera.

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Experiment with Art Filters

Tap on the Exposure Mode Control in the upper right corner, and review your options: iAUTO, P, A, S, M, and ART. Take a look at Art Filters and experiment with your options. Some of those effects might get your creative juices flowing. If you shoot RAW+Jpeg, the RAW will remain untouched and the Jpeg will display the Art Filter effect. It's the best of both worlds.

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Drive Mode Flexibility

Not only do you have the standard single frame and burst mode options in the upper right corner, but Olympus has added some nifty self-timer settings. You can delay the shutter release in increments of 2 seconds with a range of 12 seconds to 2 seconds. As an added bonus, you can set multiple exposures and the duration between them too.

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And Plenty More

You can tap the screen to set the focus point, or initiate the shutter. And once you capture your images, save them to the Camera Roll to share online. The original photos remain on the camera's memory card.

OI Share is available as a free app in iTunes and Google Play. It is the robust remote camera control that we once dreamed about.


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

When I decided to join Instagram, I wanted to be somewhere special. I made that decision two years ago, and the location was Maui.

Today, I've published my 500th Instagram post. I chose an image from my stay in Hawaii in August 2012. I selected a colorful sunset image with a sailboat and light reflecting on the water. For some reason, that picture radiates the good feelings I have about this project.

Instagram has had its share of controversy. But for me personally, it has helped me become a more creative photographer. Every day, I think about what would be a good post as I navigate my world at home, or while I'm on the road working. It keeps my gears turning.

I follow a lot of shooters on Instagram. Some depend on their celebrity status, others are beautiful and capture selfies as the mainstay of their feed. But a lot of people are like me too: photographers who love taking pictures for the pure joy of it. And we have a place to celebrate our passion. That's what hooked me.

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The images on this feed are different than my work as a photographer for hire. Assignments tend to have restrictions. I need to produce images that match a description. Even my publishing on The Digital Story is illustrative. I'm creating photos to describe a product or technique.

But when I press the shutter button for Instagram, it's just a picture. It could be anything in any style with any filter. It doesn't matter. Some images resonate and others don't. Like any photographer, I appreciate a "like." But I'm not thinking about that when I create the photograph. My thought is, "What can I do that's interesting?"

And that's why I love Instagram.

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

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One of the many backup and sharing solutions that I use for my photography is Pogoplug's personal cloud software combined with a Buffalo CloudStor 2-Bay RAID hard drive ($206).

This system sets up at my studio, yet is accessible anywhere with an Internet connection via my laptop, iPad, or iPhone. The initial investment is just a couple hundred dollars, and there are no monthly fees. Plus, I have on-site RAID mirroring to protect me against hard drive failure.

In this movie produced by lynda.com, I show you how the Cloudstor system works. I demo communication with the networked RAID device located hundreds of miles away. This free movie is part of my training title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, where I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users.

If the embedded movie fails to play, you can watch it by clicking on this link: Taking a Look at Pogoplug.

I've been using the Pogoplug/Buffalo system for over two years, and I haven't had a single problem with it (knock on wood)!

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Lightroom Mobile Field Test in Maui

I like to leave the laptop at home for vacation. And with the power and connectivity of the iPad, traveling light is better than ever.

Editing-in-LRM.PNG Editing in Lightroom Mobile on the iPad mini is a joy.

When Adobe introduced Lightroom Mobile, I saw my iPad-only scenario improving. Imagine being able to sync Collections with your master Lightroom library at home and bring them with you on your mobile device? Plus, even better, upload those vacation shots in the field, then use LR's amazing editing tools to fine tune them, and publish online from your remote destination.

In my latest post for lynda.com Article Center, Field Test: Lightroom Mobile in Maui, I go into detail about how LRM performed in the field. The bottom line is this: Bringing content with you from your master library works great. You can view, share, and even star-rate the pictures.

But going the other direction is frustrating. If you're thinking that you can use this software and your iPad to replace a laptop in the field, my guess is that you'll be disappointed.

Browsing-in-LRM.PNG Browsing new images in Lightroom Mobile on an iPad mini.

Yes, you can browse new Jpegs and adjust them with Lightroom's tools. But you can't add any IPTC metadata, including captions, keywords and copyright. And I had issues with the star ratings that I explained in the lynda article.

So for now, Lightroom Mobile is more about bringing pictures from home than it is working with new ones in the field. Maybe over time this will change...


More Help on Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single image.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Is iPhone Insurance Worth the Cost?

Submerged iPhone

When you buy an iPhone through an AT&T store, they offer you insurance to protect your device. Yes, they give you the basic costs, but more than likely, the big picture won't be explained. Once you look closer at the details, another option may surface.

Here's a real life example. Just this week, I immersed my iPhone 5S beyond repair. Since I had bought the device directly from Apple, I had never considered insurance from my carrier, AT&T.

I submitted a service request via the Apple Online Store on Tuesday evening. The charge to replace my iPhone 5S was $269 plus tax. (The Apple warranty does not cover dunking the phone in water.) Apple submitted my info to UPS that night. The next morning I dropped off my phone at the closest UPS shipping center (they did the packing for me), and by Friday afternoon I had a replacement 5S, same configuration as I had bought, delivered by FedEx. The entire process took 3 days.

We have another iPhone 5S on our AT&T family plan that we purchased at an AT&T store. We opted for the $9.99 a month protection plan that is underwritten by Continental Casualty Company and administered by Asurion Protection Services. The deductible for the iPhone 5S is $199. We've had a claim with them before, and the entire process took over 2 weeks and included 3 phone calls.

The bottom line is this: Apple covers your iPhone for 1 year for free. There are certain exceptions such as water immersion. Even with the exception, they will replace your iPhone for less than $300 when out of warranty, and do so quickly and without hassle.

I'm not recommending one option over the other. But it's something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself purchasing a new iPhone at an AT&T store.

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