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You'd think that I'd be crazy-excited about a new compact camera that has 7 megapixel resolution, a 10X optical lens, and high definition video capture. And to some degree, I am impressed with the just-announced Canon PowerShot TX1.

This device fits in your shirt pocket, yet can record full-motion video (to an SD card) and shoot 7 megapixel still shots. And like a dedicated video recorder, you can zoom the lens during capture -- something that many still cameras don't allow you to do in movie mode. And how about that 39-390mm optical zoom in a camera the size of a deck of cards? Wow. That is impressive. The TX1 is also Vista certified right out of the box, in addition to being Mac OS X 10.4 compatible.

But it has two major shortcomings that will keep me from purchasing it. First, if you can record stunning high-definition video (1280 x 720 @ 30fps), but have to use an onboard microphone for the audio, what are you really gaining? The image is only half of the equation in movie making, and until camera manufacturers provide us with a microphone jack so we can record equally impressive audio, we can't use these devices instead of a camcorder.

Also, I'm totally mystified by Canon's insistence on using the AVI Motion JPEG WAVE format for video instead of some flavor of MPEG. Using the AVI format, you get a whopping 13 minutes of continuous movie recording at 1280x720 resolution on a 4GB memory card. If Canon were to switch to an advanced MPEG format, they could quadruple capture time for the same amount of storage space.

So, I have to view the new PowerShot TX1 as a potentially impressive still camera (10x optical with 7 megapixel resolution) that also records movies. But as a state of the art hybrid, it comes up short for me.

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iLifeZone

Want to hear the latest about digital photography software from Scott Bourne, Alex Lindsay, Colleen Wheeler, and Derrick Story? Then tune-in to the latest episode of the iLifeZone. Find out Derrick's top three features for Lightroom and Aperture, discover why Colleen still uses Adobe Bridge, and learn which of these interfaces Scott likes the best. It's all there in another lively episode of the iLifeZone.

You can subscribe to the iLifeZone via iTunes Music Store.

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Sometimes people don't install great software, such as the new Adobe Camera Raw Plug-In 3.7, because they're not exactly sure how. Even though you know you could look it up, other tasks seem to come first.

When Adobe released the 1.0 version of Photoshop Lightroom, they also posted Camera Raw Update 3.7. If you haven't done so already, this is an important plug-in for your to add to Photoshop. By doing so, you get an improved Camera Raw workspace, the latest camera support including the Nikon D40 and Pentax K10D, plus compatibility with Lightroom.

There are two ways you can update Camera Raw. Open Photoshop CS and use the Update Tool in the Help menu. Or you can download it and place it in the File Formats folder yourself. The file path is:

Hard Disc > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Plug-Ins > CS2 > File Formats

Regardless of which method you use, I highly recommend this update for Raw shooters. You can find out more by opening the Read Me file. And if you have Photoshop CS loaded on a Windows machine, you can download that version here.

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In Podcast 69, I talked about what's in my camera bag. One of the things I mentioned during the show was that I wanted to know what you're packing these days when you go out for a shoot. Virtual camera club member, Anthony Watson, took me up on the offer, and here's what he has to say.

"I like your idea of having 'application specific' photo bags," says Anthony. "Some day I will do that. In the meantime, I have most everything in one bag as follows:"

  • Nikon D70 body
  • Sigma 50/2.8 macro lens (from my N70)
  • Sigma 24-70/2.8 (also from my N70, now you know why I chose a D70)
  • Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 (again, from my N70)
  • Vivitar ring flash (for the macro lens)
  • Nikon SB800 flash (my favorite purchase so far)
  • Cokin filter system
  • Cokin circular polarizer
  • Cokin 2 stop hard gradient filter
  • Lens pen
  • Rocket blaster (thanks for the suggestion on one of your early podcasts!)
  • Batteries, batteries, and more batteries
  • 2 SanDisk 2GB CF cards

"This setup seems to cover just about all of my needs. I wish I had a macro lens somewhere between 85 and 135 - hopefully someday."

Tell us what you have in your camera bag. Just write a few words about your packing philosophy and add the contents list. Go to the Submissions page for contact information.

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With the official release of Lightroom 1.0, it's a good time to take a look at the respective strengths of both offerings from Adobe and Apple. Along those lines, something kind of fun is brewing on the O'Reilly Digital Media site. On the Inside Aperture blog, Micah Walter is field testing both Aperture and Lightroom on a real shoot, and posting his findings daily for this week. His first post, Aperture vs. Lightroom: Let the Games Begin, sets the stage on location in the West Indies.

Over on Inside Lightroom, Michael Clark is conducting a similar comparison, and has posted his first round of thoughts in A Comparison: Adobe Lightroom vs. Apple Aperture. Both Micah and Michael are working photographers with good technical chops. I think they will handle this comparison with skill and fairness.

If you're weighing the pros and cons between these two applications, you might want to follow what these guys have to say.

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If you thought you had to pay $1,000 or more for a 13 x 19 inch printer that produced gallery quality images on a variety of stocks, you're wrong. The HP B9180 is available for around $500, and you get a top quality machine for that money.

I've been testing the B9180 for a couple months, and I'm impressed with its output, the variety of excellent paper stocks available for it, the archival permanence of its output, and the closed loop color calibration system for consistent color. Here is a list of its strengths and weaknesses that I compiled over the months.

Pros

  • Outstanding color and B&W output
  • Densitometric closed loop color calibration system for consistent output
  • Excellent paper stocks for fine art printing
  • Impressive 200+ year archival rating with HP inks and paper
  • Easy to use Photoshop Pro Printer plug-in
  • No cartridge swapping for different paper stocks
  • Rugged construction that feels durable with user-replaceable print heads
  • Convenient ink level LCD indicator on outside of unit
  • Large capacity 28cc ink cartridges for long life
  • Always ready to print thanks to auto printhead monitoring system
  • Both USB 2.0 and Ethernet connectivity built right in
  • Very competitive price: as low as $510 US

Cons

  • No roll paper adapter
  • Temperamental manual paper feed when using the Specialty Media Tray
  • Paper and ink hard to find at standard retail outlets; often must order online
  • Certain types of paper jams force you to restart the printer and wait a long time to resume work

The HP Pro B9180 Inkjet Printer is an ideal "first serious" photo printer. It produces gallery-quality output up to 13 by 19 inches, is well-designed, is very affordable (around $500 US with a set of inks and sample paper), and reasonable to maintain. Photographers ready to move up to gallery-quality output at home or in the studio should take a close look at this unit.

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Color Management Tips with Aperture

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One of the holy grails of digital photography is maintaining consistent color management all the way through the workflow. We want our prints to look as close as possible to what we see on the computer monitor.

Recently, I sat down for a chat with Joe Schorr, Senior Product Manager for Aperture, to get to the bottom of color management workflow. Joe shared some great tips for maintaining the consistency that we all strive for, and I thought you might want to listen in on this 18-minute podcast interview. Even if you're not an Aperture user, there's lots of good information in this conversation.

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Sponsor Note...

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Nikon announced Capture NX 1.1 today, its robust image editing software that is now updated for the latest operating systems on both Mac and Windows.

Mac users will be happy to hear that Capture NX 1.1 is Universal Binary. It runs natively on Intel Macs, which makes it a perfect companion to applications such as Apple's Aperture. (You can find out more about this by listening to my conversation with Ben Long on roundtripping out of Aperture.)

Capture NX 1.1 is also optimized for Windows Vista, plus Nikon has updated the user interface making this program a great choice for photographers who shoot Nikon Raw, or for anyone who wants a robust image editor for their Tiffs and Jpegs. You can download a 30-day trial from the Nikon USA site.

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Inside Lightroom - A New Community Site

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With the upcoming release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0, lots of new users will have questions about how best to use the application and get up to speed quickly. Fortunately, Inside Lightroom just launched to meet those very needs.

On Inside Lightroom, you can absorb tips from power users on the daily blog, download tutorials, listen to podcasts, watch instructive screencasts, and peruse a variety of links to other Lightroom resources. One of the bloggers, Mikkel Aaland, was the organizer of the Lightroom Adventure: Destination Iceland, and is writing a book covering post production tips used by professional on location in Iceland. He'll be sharing lots of insights on Inside Lightroom.

And if you want to contribute to the site, just click on the mail link at the top of the page and state your case.

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The Ricoh 500SE GPS-enabled camera is a rugged (dust-proof and waterproof) 8-megapixel model with a wide 28mm to 85mm (equivalent) zoom lens, 2.5" LCD monitor, supports both Bluetooth and WiFi networking... oh, and has built-in GPS hardware and software.

The camera's integrated GPS module provides for geo-coding images and video at the time of capture. For applications that require even greater precision, the camera is capable of receiving NMEA data streams from external GPS devices via its on-board Bluetooth radio. Once the captured geo-image files are transferred to a computer, they can be converted to shape files or merged into geo-databases for instant integration into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Points representing each file's position may be hovered over to display a thumbnail of the file, or clicked on to access the original image or video.

Although I don't have confirmation from Ricoh, it appears that the 500SE is both Mac and PC compatible. It's not cheap, however. The 500SE will set you back around $1,200 US with all the bells and whistles. I hope to get a hands-on look at it during the PMA show this coming March.

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