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"The Big Yawn" - Grab Shot 199

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

Gabrielle Rhodes Grab Shot 199

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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


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nanocam on bike

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

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

The Details

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

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

Bottom Line

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



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Over Under Lighting

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

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

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

Listen to the Podcast

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

Monthly Photo Assignment

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

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

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

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

More Ways to Participate

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


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Podcast Sponsors

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

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


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Less in Love with Drobo

drobo_web.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Three more days passed. Nope.

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

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

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


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

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

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



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Product Reviews on TDS

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

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


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t2i.jpg

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

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

Listen to the Podcast

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

Monthly Photo Assignment

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

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

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

More Ways to Participate

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


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

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Podcast Sponsors

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

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


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

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

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

Lens Performance in the Lab

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

Lens Performance in the Field

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

Most Important Observations

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

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Bottom Line

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



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

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

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



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