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Great minds thinks alike. In this case it's Canon and DP Review. But I like the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens too. And DP Review just honored it with Gold Award.

Canon 40mm Lens

In their review, they write: The EF 40mm f/2.8 STM is a fairly unprepossessing little lens, and its tiny size and relatively low price might make you wonder whether significant compromises have been made in its design and construction. But the moment you start shooting with it and looking at the images it produces, any such thoughts rapidly disappear - it's actually a very fine lens.

And I couldn't agree more. When I'm feeling creative and want to just have fun shooting, the 40mm is one of those lenses I reach for. And for $149, how can you go wrong?

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Eye-Fi Mobi Review

Eye-Fi Mobi Wireless SD Memory Card

The new Eye-Fi Mobi 16GB SDHC Wireless Memory Card does what I've always wanted an Eye-Fi card to do: easily connect my iOS device to my camera regardless of my location.

Once the card and camera are connected, the images flow from the camera to the iOS device, such as an iPad, where you can edit and share the pictures. The process is relatively simple.

  • Insert the card in the camera and power up.
  • Download the mobile app at www.eye.fi/mobi and enter the activation code that comes with the card.
  • Take a picture with your camera to force the card to begin broadcasting.
  • Open the Settings app on the iPad, tap on WiFi, and choose the Eye-Fi card that's in the list of networks.
  • Return to the Eye-Fi app and watch the picture being transferred from your camera to the iPad.

In the Eye-Fi app, you can monitor the connection via the status button in the upper left corner. When it's green, the two devices are talking. When it's red, the Eye-Fi card has timed out and stopped broadcasting.

Eye-Fi App on an iPad mini The Eye-Fi app on an iPad mini

This is where the system could use a little refinement. There's no control over how quickly the Eye-Fi card powers down in the camera. As it works out, it's just a couple of minutes. I understand why it does this, to save battery power. But once the card powers down, you have to prod it again to transmit, then go back to Settings on the iPad and log back in to the network.

I would like to have some control over the time period before the card powers down. I found myself having to log in to the card repeatedly, even during a single session of shooting.

Once the images are on the iPad, Eye-Fi creates a Photos Album to manage them. This is very convenient. You can access the Album via the Photos app, iPhoto app, or any other app that can read Albums. I also liked that transfer was swift. My medium-sized Jpegs loaded quickly and were virtually ready for use immediately after capture.

You can set up sharing to Facebook, Twitter, or via email within the Eye-Fi app itself. But since the images are automatically saved to your Camera Roll, you have access to them for publishing using your normal workflow. You can add multiple Eye-Fi Mobi cards to the app, and switch among them as needed. This allows you to have cards in all of your cameras if you wish.

The Eye-Fi Mobi is available in 16 GB ($75) and 8 GB ($50) capacities. Both versions are rated at a speedy Class 10. I anticipate refinements in how we can control the card's power management. But even in this first release, the Mobi is one of the best wireless card options currently available. Both versions are available on Amazon.com


iPad for Digital Photographers

This is the kind of stuff I write about in iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks format.

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This week on The Digital Story: Samsung Galaxy Camera, Eye-Fi Mobi, and the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens. All of this and more on The Digital Story podcast.

Story #1 - Samsung GC110 Galaxy Digital Camera - I've been testing this Android-based (4.1 Jellybean) 16MP camera with 21X optical zoom with 23mm on the wide end.

The Samsung Galaxy also sports a 1.4 GHz quad core processor, giant 4.8" LCD, and WiFi (no cellular with the GC110 model). It's selling on Amazon for $449. That's an investment for a compact camera that's on the large size. So what do you get for your money? I'll go into some detail about that.

Story #2 - The Eye-Fi Mobi 16GB SDHC Class 10 Wireless Memory Card addresses one of my biggest complaints about Eye-Fi cards, lack of easy direct connect. With the Mobi, and the iOS app for my iPad mini, I can shoot with any SD card compatible camera and have the images stream to the iPad.

The Mobi has some nice features that help with energy management and picture organization. The 16 GB SDHC model (class 10) is currently selling on Amazon for $75. I think it's worth it. And I'll discuss why in the second story.

Story #3 - The Olympus 75mm f1.8 Lens is now available in black. Yaay! I've been shooting with this beauty for a week now, and I have first impressions to share.

Reminder! - If you're going to purchase gear through Amazon or B&H Photo, please stop by the TDS home page first. Look for the "Products" box about half way down the page in the second column. There you will see display tiles for Amazon, lynda.com, and B&H Photo, in that order. By entering those sites through those display tiles, you help support The Digital Story.

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

The June 2013 photo assignment is Stylish.

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.Special Offer! Anyone buying Derrick's new book, iPad for Digital Photographers, even at Amazon's or Barnes And Noble's discount, and putting the password for the Book Owners lounge in the comments space of their SizzlPix! order, will get 10 percent off their entire order -- the equivalent of more than a full refund for the book!

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.

3 Things I Like About Lightroom 5

Even though there are more than 50 new features in Lightroom 5, there are three in particular that I like. First, we finally have a true full screen preview mode. Now, when I press the "F" key, I get what I've always wanted.

Second, when using the Spot Removal tool, there's an option at the bottom of the screen called Visualize Spots. By checking the box, Lightroom creates a mask that makes it easy to see any flaws that I might want to remove.

Lightroom 5 Visualize Spots Using "Visualize Spots" I can easily see areas that I might want to remove.

And third, the Upright tool, found in the Lens Corrections box, is terrific. It straightens out those lines making the buildings look less distorted. I've tested it with a series of architecture shots, and it has improved the image 9 out of 10 times. More often than not, using Auto mode for Upright is all you need.

Lightroom 5 is available now for download ($79 for upgrade, $149 for new users) and is part of Adobe Creative Cloud.

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion

With RAW Compatibility Update 4.06, your Mac (Aperture, iPhoto, and Preview) now supports the following new cameras:

  • Canon EOS-1D C
  • Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D / Kiss X7
  • Canon EOS Rebel T5i / 700D / Kiss X7i
  • Hasselblad Lunar
  • Nikon COOLPIX A
  • Nikon D7100
  • Nikon 1 J3
  • Nikon 1 S1
  • Sony Alpha NEX-3N

The update is for Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.8) users.

Use Aperture and iPhoto Together!

To learn about using Aperture and iPhoto together, visit my Using iPhoto and Aperture Together 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.

Where's Your Cable Release?

They hardly take up any space in your camera bag, yet they're often left behind. The cable release allows you to trip the shutter without jarring the camera, enabling you to capture sharper images.

Nikon Cable Release on Fuji X20 Nikon "traditional" cable release on a Fujifilm X20

For my Fujifilm X20, I'm using the wonderful (and affordable) Nikon AR-3 Mechanical Release that's 12" long and runs $16.95. For all of my other cameras, I'm using the mandatory electronic releases.

I recommend always having one release for one camera in your bag. For night photography, low-light mood shots, and product work, they really come in handy.

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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.

75mm_olympus.jpg

The ability to create soft backgrounds is important for pros and serious enthusiasts. Some have shied away from micro four thirds cameras, such as the Olympus OM-D because its sensor is smaller than full frame or APS-C -- an important factor in creating soft backgrounds.

But the lens you put on the camera can help with this cause. And some lenses do an admirable job of providing us with creamy bokeh, while still lightening the load on our shoulders. An excellent example is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 ($899 and now available in black as well as silver).

Cactus at 75mm wide open
Cactus with Olympus 75mm at f/1.8, ISO 200

The Olympus 75mm has a quality that provides for high sharpness where the lens is focused, but falls off quickly creating a very appealing background. You can see from the image above, that fall off begins with the cactus in the back. Notice how smooth the green area is in the lower left of the frame.

The all metal Olympus 75mm is compact (2.7 x 2.5") and weighs a very reasonable 10.7oz. Its silent focusing also makes it a good choice for video work. I'll show you how it works for portraits in a future post.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

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When our computers start acting doggie, we close down our apps and restart. Do you ever do that with your iPad? According to experts, it can help with misbehaving apps, but isn't necessary as a general maintenance procedure.

Closing iPad Apps Closing apps on your iPad.

Shutting down a misbehaving app is easy, First double-press the Home button, then tap and hold on any of the apps that appear at the bottom of the screen. They will start to wiggle and display a red "-" button in the upper left corner. Tap on the red "-" button to close an app.

When you first do this, you might be surprised at how many apps you actually see on the task bar. Most of them are in a suspended state and not using resources. Once you've shut down any misbehaving apps, press the Home button once to stop the wiggling. Then press it again to return to normal working mode.

Now hold down the Power button until you get the "slide to power off" message. Go ahead and power down. After a few seconds, press the power button again to restart the device.

You've now essentially rebooted your iPad. Check your Settings to ensure you're connected to the correct WiFi network, then get back to work!

Follow Up Note - A few readers have interpreted that I'm suggesting that you close down all of your apps to improve performance or to conserve battery power. That's not my intention. The apps you see on the task bar in the App Switcher are the apps that have been open, but not necessarily open at the moment.

I usually only shut down apps that are misbehaving while I'm using them. And yes, I do restart afterwards. I am amazed at how many apps appear in the App Switcher when I do that. (I've apparently been doing a lot of stuff.) And I do notice improved performance when I remove a rogue app from the task bar and restart. The main point is sharing how to do so if needed.


iPad for Digital Photographers

This is the kind of stuff I write about in iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks format.

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: Aperture on your iPad and a Lightroom 5 preview with Chris Orwig. All of this and more on The Digital Story podcast.

Story #1 - Serving Up Aperture on Your iPad - You can browse your entire Aperture library on an iPad, and even grab the photos you need, using the iOS app Plex ($4.99) and the free Plex Media Server for your Mac.

This clever software provides a variety of streaming options for photos, music, and movies. But it can also peer directly into your Aperture or iPhoto library, and serve up organized content on to your iOS device. I talk about it in the first story this week.

Story #2 - An Interview with Chris Orwig about Lightroom 5. I cornered Chris while working at lynda.com to discuss the upcoming release of Lightroom 5. Chris is a Lightroom expert, and had plenty to say about the new release.

Reminder! - If you're going to purchase gear through Amazon or B&H Photo, please stop by the TDS home page first. Look for the "Products" box about half way down the page in the second column. There you will see display tiles for Amazon, lynda.com, and B&H Photo, in that order. By entering those sites through those display tiles, you help support The Digital Story.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (38 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

The June 2013 photo assignment is Stylish.

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.Special Offer! Anyone buying Derrick's new book, iPad for Digital Photographers, even at Amazon's or Barnes And Noble's discount, and putting the password for the Book Owners lounge in the comments space of their SizzlPix! order, will get 10 percent off their entire order -- the equivalent of more than a full refund for the book!

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.

sigma_17-70_front.jpg

Can you shoot quality natural light portraits with a standard zoom lens? I recently put the Sigma 17-70mm f/ 2.8-4 Contemporary zoom to the test during a photo session to see what kind of results we could produce together.

Because it is a general purpose zoom, I've been using the Sigma 17-70mm for a variety of tasks, including close up photography work that I wrote about in the post Macro Mode on Sigma's 17-70mm Enthusiast Zoom. The lens is also getting pretty good marks on the optical bench, such as this review at SLRGear.com. But natural light portrait photography is its own beast. It tests an optic in different ways that outside in broad daylight.

Victoria Sigma 17-70mm Zoom Sigma 17-70mm on Canon 60D, ISO 1600 for this existing light portrait. f/3.5 at 1/125th. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

One of the aspects of the lens that I found helpful for portrait photography was its relatively fast maximum aperture (f/2.8-f/4), especially for a standard zoom that costs $499. In this series of images, I used natural light in aperture priority mode, keeping the lens wide open. Its optical image stabilization allowed me to drop to longer shutter speeds if necessary.

Victoria Sigma 17-70mm Zoom Sigma 17-70mm on Canon 60D, ISO 1600 for this existing light portrait. f/3.5 at 1/200th. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

Autofocusing was fast and accurate, even in this dimly lit environment. The lens balances well on the Canon 60D, making the combination very comfortable to hold, even on extended shoots. Already, after just a couple months of testing the Sigma, I have a lot of confidence in the shots it will help me produce.

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


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography.