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Holiday Gift Guide on Imaging Resource

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Imaging Resource has published a nifty Holiday Gift Guide that features a variety of compact cameras, DSLRs, and lots of accessories. The guide is easy to browse, includes good info, and gives pretty accurate pricing estimates. Just a few of the cameras mentioned include the Sony T50, Canon SD800 IS, Panasonic LX2, Fujifilm S6000fd, and the Panasonic FZ7. Bottom line: it's virtual window shopping for the photo enthusiast.

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Nikon D40 - DSLR for the Masses?

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The just announced Nkon D40 ships in December and is priced at $599 US with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. This is the most affordable top-brand DSLR kit on the market, and it's well within the reach of most enthusiasts.

The 6-megapixel sensor coupled with the same processing engine as the Nikon D200 has a 2.5" LCD monitor and can shoot in burst mode at 2.5 frames per second. In a hands on preview at DP Review, Phil Askey said this comparing it to the more expensive D50:

"On the plus side you get ISO 3200 equiv. (HI 1), the ever useful customizable Auto ISO, a larger viewfinder view, shorter shutter lag and viewfinder blackout, a larger LCD monitor, a considerably nicer user interface, SDHC support, a new image processing engine, unlimited JPEG continuous shooting, in-camera retouching (including D-Lighting) and of course a smaller and lighter body."

Could this be the DSLR that every serious amateur owns? We'll find out in December.

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I recently sat down with Joe Schorr, Aperture Product Manager for Apple, and talked about the inception and evolution of Apple's pro level photo management application. Joe has been a part of the project from the very early days, and he's helped Aperture reach its one-year birthday in good shape.

In my first interview with Joe, he gives us some background on his role, then he discusses the changes to the application itself. Then, in the second interview, he drills down into some of the new features found in Aperture 1.5

I recorded these podcasts in Joe's office on the Apple campus in Cupertino. It's rare that an Apple employee gets to talk freely in front of a microphone, and I think Aperture fans will enjoy these candid convesations.

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Shower Cap Camera Protector

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In just about every hotel bathroom, you'll find one of the handiest photo accessories for inclement weather -- the shower cap. And more often than not, you leave that shower cap behind upon checkout.

Next time grab it. Simply punch a hole in the center of the cap for your camera lens to extend through, and you have an all weather protection system for your compact or small DSLR. The elastic band of the cap keeps it positioned snugly around your wrists while the cap protects the camera from all sides. You can work the controls, view the LCD monitor, and take pictures in the rain just as easily as on a sunny day.

This opens new opportunities for your photography. Rainy conditions often make dramatic shots with saturated colors. So grab a shower cap and hit the (wet) streets.

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New Site for Aperture Users

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I've been working on a new site that was recently launched at PhotoPlus Expo. Inside Aperture is a gathering place for photographers who want to learn Apple's photo management application inside and out.

The basic features of this destination include the blog that highlights a new daily post from one of six experts, plus me :) For example, I recently explained how to Create Your Own White Balance Presets. This tip enables you to create a list of presets that you can cycle through when determining the right white balance setting for your Raw files, just like you can in Adobe Camera Raw. We have stuff like this go up every day.

I'm also interviewing people who are directly involved with Aperture, such as Joe Schorr (product manager) and posting those discussions as podcasts on the site. Plus, there are articles and other chunks of useful information to help you master one of the best photo management tools to ever come down the pike.

I might also add, we're looking to add more contributors to the site. So if you have a few Aperture tricks up your sleeve that you'd like to share with others, be sure to drop me a line.

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Sponsor Note...

You're Not Ken Burns -- But FotoMagico slideshows are so good that people will believe that he helped you.

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Camera club member Craig Lee pointed me to a lecture by renowned photojournalist David Burnett. Craig wrote:

"We had a great guest speaker, photojournalist David Burnett, at UF Monday night. He gave a guest lecture in conjunction with the opening of a show that has been making the rounds at university galleries. I filmed him as part of my job (Web Administrator at the journalism college here), and the video is available as a QuickTime streamed webcast on the University site."

David's commentary includes discussion and images of U.S. presidents and presidential campaigns, sports including the Olympics and baseball, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It's really worth a look.

Thanks Craig for the heads up!

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Sponsor Note...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.

More on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2

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Last month, I reported on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2. Photography Blog had given the camera a decent review, but indicated that Panasonic hadn't really made much progress controlling image noise. But two more noteworthy reviews have been published since my October 11 posting. If you're interested in this camera, you might want to keep reading.

PopPhoto.com, one of the most respected technical reviewers in the business, gave the Lumix DMC-LX2 a very glowing review, calling it:

"A pocketable alternative to a digital SLR, the 10.2MP LX2 packs a gorgeous 2.8-inch LCD screen with a full 16:9 aspect ratio, loads of controls, improved burst rate, true high-definition video recording, a new image processor, and 16MB of built-in memory. It's even available in black in addition to silver. Best of all: its performance on our Certified Lab Tests -- and its "steal-me" price."

Then, I just read another review on Imaging Resource that also gave the Panasonic very high marks, saying, "While the Lumix LX2 could certainly be enjoyed by beginning users, since it has great automatic functionality, it's the photo enthusiasts who will get the most out of this sophisticated and snazzy little model."

Bottom line for me: I'd really like to shoot with this camera, especially in Raw mode, and see for myself. But on paper, I trust these reviewers and am now recommending the camera for advanced amateurs who want a pocketable Raw shooter.

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Adobe Camera Raw Update 3.6 Available

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Adobe has updated its Camera Raw plug-in (for Photoshop CS2 and Elements) and its DNG converter. This latest version includes Raw profiles for 13 new cameras, including the Canon Rebel Xti (400D) and the Nikon D80. It also includes compatibility for other cameras that I've discussed on TDS, such as the Olympus SP-510 UZ, Panasonic DMC-LX2, and the Pentax K100D.

The update is free. Mac users can download here and Windows shooters should go to this page to grab it. I recommend that you download the update now while you're thinking about it...

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Sponsor Note...

You're Not Ken Burns -- But FotoMagico slideshows are so good that people will believe that he helped you.

Take Me With You! (I think...)

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We were lucky once again, and caught a good cab driver when we arrived in Mexico. This time the mission was the Chacchoben ruins site, located about an hour from the port in Costa Maya. It had been raining all morning, so many potential site visitors stayed inside and hung around the ship. No way I was staying onboard with those ruins out there calling to me.

As luck would have it, the sky cleared a little by the time we arrived, and we had the entire site to ourselves. What a break! Ben and I wandered among the various excavated areas of the site, took pictures, and enjoyed the outdoor solitude.

Chacchoben Ruin

When we returned, we still had time for a beer and a basket of tortilla chips before reboarding the ship. As we strolled to the dock, I noticed this local resident who had been enjoying Mexican beers all afternoon. He was standing at the shore shouting at the cruise ship. I wasn't exactly sure what he was saying, so I created the title to this blog post myself.

We're back at sea now, and today is a teaching day for me. More to report soon.

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Marimba Players in Guatemala

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One of the hardest things when visiting foreign countries is finding a cab driver who can communicate and is willing to drive you around for half a day or so. After many failed interviews yesterday, Ben, Andy, and I found the right guy. Don't get me wrong, we met many nice people. But three photographers are not your usual cab fare.

So we drove off into the hills of Santo Thomas in Guatemala, and an hour later found ourselves in the Rio Dulce area. In a nearby park, we stumbled upon a family gathering... complete with a great sounding Marimba. At times, there were as many as four musicians all playing their part in the lively musical arrangement.

The entire day was enjoyable, and it's left me with a very upbeat feeling about Guatemala. I wish you could hear the music in this photo.

Next stop, Costa Maya, Mexico. More to come soon...

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