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One of the most tempting combinations in the micro four thirds universe is mounting the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lenson a new Olympus E-PL2 body. The effective range of the Panasonic lens is 14-28mm, providing lots of shooting opportunities that you don't get with a regular kit lens.

Liberty Hill, San Francisco Liberty Hill, San Francisco by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

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The Panasonic wide zoom feels like a quality optic. It's solid, smooth, and absolutely beautiful. You have to hold it to truly appreciate its machined precision. The constant f/4 maximum aperture combined with the ISO 1600 performance on the E-PL2 is a street shooter's dream come true. And the compatibility is excellent when mounted on Olympus PENs. The metadata for this shot shows all of the lens information as well as the camera data. This is one of the areas where adhering to agreed standards really pays off.

This image from the Liberty Hill area of San Francisco was shot at 14mm wide open on the E-PL2 at ISO 1600. (You can see all of the metadata by clicking on the chart to the left for an enlarged view.) The Jpeg was then processed in Aperture, exported, sampled down, then 12 percent Smart Sharpen was added in Photoshop CS5 before posting here. All through the processing workflow, the photo looked great: clean tones and good clarity. This makes post production much easier when you have a solid image to begin with.

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The Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lenswill set you back about $850. It's not a casual purchase. I borrowed one from my photographer friend Ben Long, and have been trying to figure out how to buy my own ever since. I'm sure it's one of those "will last a lifetime" investments. And if you want to work at wide focal lengths, it's a zoom that you will most likely fall in love with.


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I was happy when I could mount sexy Panasonic lenses on my Olympus PEN. But the Micro Four Thirds party just got a bit more exciting. In the last week, Schneider-Kreuznach, Carl Zeiss, and Sigma all announced that they would be designing and manufacturing glass for the Micro Four Thirds mount.

I think this is particularly good news for Olympus PEN owners because those cameras have image stabilization built into the body. This means that any M4/3 mount should work great on any PEN, and include IS.

Personally, I'm looking forward to new prime lenses. Two of my current favorites for the PEN are the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 Lens($259) and the Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 ($334). Imagine having a Carl Zeiss 40mm f/1.8 (which would equal an 80mm f/1.8 because you double the focal length for M4/3) or a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro?

This will be a scene to keep your eyes on in 2011...

Canon 270ex Flash

Even though the just-announced Canon T3i DSLR looks great, it was an accessory for it that got me excited. The Speedlite 270EX II for $169, which can be used as a slave flash in E-TTL wireless autoflash configurations with other E-TTL compatible EOS and PowerShot cameras. That means that this super compact unit that only requires 2 AA cells can be used as an off-camera flash with my Canon 60D DSLR because of the built-in wireless transmitter. This is also true for the 7D and new T3i.

Canon 270 EX II Flash

The 270EX II also includes a remote firing function enabling you to trigger the camera from the flash. And thanks to the articulated screens on the 60D and T3i, you can angle the LCD so you can review the shot even when you're not standing behind the camera.

Being able to set up off-camera flash with just my DSLR and a compact unit means that I will use this wonderful technique more often. The 270EX II will add very little weight to my everyday backpack. Once the flash begins shipping in March, I'll post a full review.

Learn Off Camera Flash Technique (Easily!)

If you want to learn how to use this great lighting technique for your portraits, check out Photo Assignment: Off-Camera Flash. There are 15 instructional movies, three of which are absolutely free, including the free tutorial, "Using One Flash on One Light Stand for a Simple Portrait." Perfect, wouldn't you say, for the Speedlite 270EX II?


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Some of the most frustrating mistakes occur when we forget to change our settings back to default after a shoot. I just had such an experience when I thought I was shooting in Raw... but no! I was shooting 2.5 megapixel Jpegs instead. Too bad it was a great shot. In this podcast, I review 10 reminders for after a shoot. Embrace these, and you will have fewer missed shots.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 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

Loved One is the February 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Feb. 28, 2011.

TDS Summer 2011 Photography Workshop

We're making plans now for the Summer 2011 TDS Photography Workshop. If you want your name on the reserve list, just drop me a line.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

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

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

Blurb believes passionately in the joy of books - reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them. Learn more by visiting Blurb on The Digital Story.




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Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

I've been looking for a good compact condenser mic for my video work on location. When I saw the announcement for the Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone, it looked like a perfect fit for my field work. After some preliminary testing, I'm impressed enough to take it on my next assignment, covering WPPI in Las Vegas later this month.

What I Like

  • Standard 9 volt battery that provides hours of work. This is important in the field.
  • Green indicator light that lets you know the mic is on and powered up. Most of my condensers do not have indicator lights, and I'm always nervous about the status of the battery during long shoots.
  • Three-position decibel switch (-10, 0, +20), that when used in conjunction with the manual gain setting on my Canon 60D and 5D, gives me very good control over audio levels during recording.
  • 80 Hz high pass filter when working around the hums and buzzes of events.
  • The condenser capsule has a supercardioid pickup pattern that's able to capture audio from the front, yet minimizes pickup from the sides and rear.
  • Truly light and compact. Fits nicely in my camera bag.

What I Don't Like

  • Battery compartment cover is clunky and could be frustrating to operate when having to change out the 9 volts in the field.
  • Mount does not fit in the hot shoe of my Canon 60D. [See update at end of article for more on this. Problem appears to have been corrected.]It's incredible that Rode could make such a big mistake here, but I can only slide the mic in about 1/3 of the way in to the camera hot shoe.
  • Shock mount is nice, but you have to use it all the time. There is no mounting hardware for the mic itself if you remove it from the shock mount.
  • No case is included. For a mic that's designed for travel, and that costs $230, seems like Rode could give us a case to protect it.

The Bottom Line

Rode VideoMic Pro lists for $229. It looks good mounted atop DSLRs. It includes a solid right-angle mini stereo jack that works great with DSLRs that include audio ports. Sound quality is good, and I like having decibel control on the back of the mic.

I'm frustrated with the hot shoe mount that does not work well with my Canon 60D. I'm only able to push it in about 1/3 of the way. It still works, but c'mon, nobody tested that? I would also like a second mount for the mic for those situations when I need something a bit more rugged that the rubber-band shock mount. And not including a case for a travel mic feels like penny pinching.

But even with those complaints, the Rode VideoMic Pro is the best travel condenser mic I have right now, and it gives me a high quality option for those situations where lapel mics are impractical. If it holds up over time, I should be happy with my investment.

UPDATE Feb. 15, 2011 -- I just received this note from Rode about the hot shoe foot on the VideoMic Pro I had tested: "We've conducted an internal audit and have concluded that this was an isolated issue that unfortunately existed in a small number of the first production batch of VideoMic Pros. Moving forward we have tightened the QA procedure for the shoe mount to ensure that this won't happen again." They sent me a replacement foot for my mic, and it now mounts perfectly on all of my hot shoe cameras.


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Congratulations to John Farnan for his winning entry, Impressions of NYC for the Jan. 2011 Blurb Book Page of the Month.

John Farnan - Impressions of NYC "Impressions of NYC" by John Farnan. Click on image for larger version.

Have you considered making your own book? If so, take a look at our Blurb on The Digital Story site.

"The photo was taken in Lower Antelope Canyon (Utah) and shows the detail of Navajo sandstone," writes Chris Cornelis. "Wind and water have carved out beautiful shapes with amazing texture."

Antelope Canyon - Chris Cornelis "Lower Antelope Canyon" (Utah) by Chris Cornelis

"When I entered the canyon I was overwhelmed. I started taking photos like crazy, resulting in a lot of mediocre photos and a couple of pretty good ones. I like this one a lot because it captures the essence of what makes the canyon so beautiful (color, shape, texture), and at the same time, it's a very simple image."

This is our 208th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

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

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


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or even your Android phone just to get a podcast. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show. Download it today!


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Full screen mode isn't just for editing anymore. You can take advantage of every pixel on your Mac for just about any task in iPhoto. This can improve your experience considerably when working on a smaller device, such as the new 11" MacBook Air.

Here's a short video on how to take full advantage of full screen mode in iPhoto '11.


More Training Available

There are now two ways to learn and have more fun with iPhoto '11: my iPhoto '11 Essential Training ONLINE at Lynda.com, and the new iPhoto '11 Essential Training DVD that you can purchase from the Lynda.com Store for $49.95 US.

Other Articles about iPhoto '11

Creating Smart Folders in iPhoto '11

Introduction to iPhoto '11 Essential Training



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If you change your camera's resolution, remember to change it back.

During a Macworld class I was teaching, I lowered the resolution on my Canon 60D (for a particular demonstration) to "S2," which is only 1920x1280 (2.5 megapixels). After the class was over, I forgot to return the setting to Raw where I normally keep it. When I am shooting Raw, I get full resolution from the camera -- 5184x3456 (18 megapixels).

The next day, while driving to my Lynda.com assignment in Ventura, CA, I saw this dramatic scene on Interstate 5 and was lucky enough to capture it. Unfortunately, the image was at the lower resolution I had set during the Macworld class. Ack!

Well, at least I can use it on the Web...


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What's the best way to share images with clients and subjects after a photo shoot? I recommend putting up an online gallery. But you may want to control who sees the images, and what they can do with them. In this week's podcast, I talk about using Flickr and MobileMe to provide secure galleries for the people you photograph. One is easier than the other to set up... and which one that is may surprise you.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (20 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

Loved One is the February 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Feb. 28, 2011.

TDS Summer 2011 Photography Workshop

We're making plans now for the Summer 2011 TDS Photography Workshop. If you want your name on the reserve list, just drop me a line.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

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

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

Blurb believes passionately in the joy of books - reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them. Learn more by visiting Blurb on The Digital Story.




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