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For the September 2013 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters demonstrated their cat-like reflexes. See for yourself in our gallery, Grab Shot. And which one will be the SizzlPix Photo Assignment Pick of the Month?

brian-buhowsky-sept-2013-pa.jpg

Photo by Brian Buhowsky. "This is a grab shot of my daughter while our house was under construction. The colors and contrast, as well as the haze created by the tarp resulted in a dynamic effect." (Captured with an iPhone 5.) See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the Grab Shot gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Nov. 2013 assignment is "Critters." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Nov. 30, 2013. No limit on image size submitted.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Nov 2013." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Gallery posting is one month behind the deadline. So I'm posting Oct. 2013 at the end of Nov., the Nov. gallery will be posted at the end of Dec., and on and on.

Good luck with your Nov. assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for Sept..


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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.

Canon 70D Lives Up to the Hype

Canon EOS 70D with 40mm STM Lens

Having carried a Canon EOS 70D with the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens for some time now, I agree with the recent DP Review Gold Award for the enthusiast DSLR.

In terms of my "larger" cameras, this is my current favorite. And with the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens, it's a remarkably compact and versatile camera. I keep it in my Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 with the OM-D.

The 40mm on the 70D is my longer lens and the 17mm on the E-M5 is the wider. Depending on the situation, I grab the camera that has the most appropriate focal length.

The things I really like about the 70D and why it resides in my daily bag include:

  • The swing-out articulated touchscreen LCD. So versatile!
  • Built in flash with wireless controller combined with the wireless Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash makes for a potent on-the-go lighting kit.
  • Great autofocusing with both the optical viewfinder and via live view.
  • Terrific low light/high ISO performance.
  • Built-in WiFi for both camera control and picture transfer.
  • Accepts my entire catalog of Canon glass.

The enthusiast DSLR lives on. And I, along with DP Review, feel that Canon has created an excellent camera with the 70D.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

fotodiox-adapter.jpg

After having such great success using a lens adapter for my micro four thirds cameras, allowing me to mount Zeiss lenses on to the Olympus OM-D, I thought I'd do the same for my Pentax K-5. I quickly learned that all lens adapters are not created equal.

I ponied up $39 for a Fotodiox PRO Lens Mount Adapter that would let me mount my Contax Zeiss lenses on the Pentax K-5. I thought this would be particularly fun for studio work.

The adapter seems well made and everything mounted snugly. I ran a test using the $165 PENTAX DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens against my Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 prime with Fotodiox adapter. As you look at the shots below, the Pentax lens image is on the far left, and the Zeiss with adapter shots are in the middle and on the right.

fotodiox-adapter-test.jpg

Clearly, the $165 Pentax kit lens outperformed the Zeiss with adapter. Not only that, I lost one f/stop of light (middle image) with the adapter, and had to compensate by opening up from f/5.6 to f/4 (right image) to get an equivalent exposure.

More bad news concerning image stabilization. Even though the K-5 has sensor based stabilization, it would not activate with the Fotodiox adapter. I used a tripod and self timer for the test shots, but in real life this would be an issue.

I'm sure I'll find something creative to do with the Fotodiox mount. But I don't think I'll be shooting product shots in the the studio with it.

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This week on The Digital Story podcast: New Photography Workshops for 2014; The Nimbleosity Report -- Has the Canon G-Series run its course? From the Photo Help Desk -- Which New MacBook Pro Laptop is Best for Photographers? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - New Workshops for the Coming Year - I've been working on the 2014 workshop season for a while now, and I think I have a very tempting line up.

  • High School Senior Portraits, Inside and Out - Feb.
  • Fine Art Photography - HDR and B&W - March
  • San Francisco Street Photography - May
  • Sonoma Coast Workshop - August
  • Fall Color with Safari West - Oct.

I talk about these events in the first segment of today's podcast.

Story #2 - Nimbleosity report on the Canon PowerShot G16 - Has the G Series run its course? I cut my teeth on digital photography with the Canon G1 and G2 cameras. I still have them. But as I've compared the latest member of this family to the competition, I'm wondering if the G Series has finally run out of gas. I go into detail in today's Nimbleosity Report.

Canon PowerShot G16

I compared the G16 to a direct competitor, the Fujifilm X20. The results were interesting.

They both weigh about the same. The X20 has the edge in image sharpness, sensor size, AF speed, and burst mode. The G16 has better spec for the LCD monitor, 240 fps video recording, and longer battery life. Plus the G16 includes built-in WiFi costs $50 less.

So is the G16 a worthy competitor? I answer in today's show. And don't forget to visit the official Nimble Photographer web site.

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: Which of the new MacBook Pros are best for photographers? Now that Apple offers Retina Displays for both the 13" and 15" models, which is best for photographers?

MacBook Pro Top View

Three considerations: 1) Budget: 13" runs from #1,299 to $1,799 while the 15" runs from $1,999 to $2,599. 2) Portability: which laptop fits in your ideal carrying solution? 3) Applications you use: the $2,599 MBP has both Intel Iris Pro Graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics card. The 13" has Intel Iris Graphics. Photoshop and Aperture can take advantage of GPU acceleration. Lightroom does not. I sort this out in the third segment of today's show.

If you have a question for the Photo Help Desk team, visit PhotoHelpDesk.com.

Chuck Jones is the winner of the Nimble Photographer T-Shirt giveaway. He wrote, "I think my favorite item in the store is the cap. All of the items look great, but I wear caps all the time and this one has a classic look to it." Thanks Chuck for your feedback, and I hope you enjoy the T-Shirt.

New Ad tiles on TDS. If you're going to purchase from Amazon of B%H Photo, please click on the respective ad tile for those suppliers, located in the second column on every page of TheDigitalStory.com.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

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.

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.

OM-D E-M1 Front View

Citing extensive customizability and super fast autofocus, DP Review awarded the Olympus OM-D E-M1 micro four thirds camera and overall score of 84 percent and a Gold award in their deep dive, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review.

They also liked the excellent image quality, rugged all weather construction, built-in WiFi, and the bright, sharp, electronic viewfinder. On the negative side, DP Review felt that the interface and controls can be overwhelming, auto focusing with Four Thirds lenses can be slow in dim conditions, and they weren't crazy about having only a single SD card slot.

From my Nimble Photographer point of view, I'm a bit concerned about bling bloat. The E-M1 has put on a bit of weight and will grow further with 4/3 lenses. Plus the base price for the body has expanded to $1,399 for the OM-D E-M1, compared to $999 for the OM-D E-M5. I'm actually surprised that more people haven't commented on the $400 increase.

That being said, the E-M1 looks like a heck of a terrific camera. DP Review leaves no stone unturned. So a Gold award from them has substantial weight... and in a good way.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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All 2014 TDS Workshops Are Sold Out! We will announce the 2015 Season in November.

The 2014 season will debut with five photography workshops ranging from the streets of San Francisco to the Fall colors of Sonoma County wine country.

San Francisco Night Scene Night shooting will be included in the SF Street Photography Workshop.

Our photography workshops are extremely high value, personalized events. Participation is limited to 8 attendees with hands-on instruction, multiple shooting sessions, post production lab time, and plenty of sharing and feedback.

You can get on the Reserve List now for the event of your choice by using the Send Me Info form in the middle of the Workshops page. By getting on the reserve list, you can save your place at the front of the line. Those on the reserve list have the opportunity (but not the obligation) to secure a seat for any of the listed workshops. You can learn more about how the Reserve List works.

Make 2014 the year that you treat yourself to an immersive photographic experience. Just you and a handful of peers focused on improving your craft and having a good time.

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Light-Footed Nature Photography

October is a wonderful time of year to immerse in nature. And outdoor photography doesn't have to be a burdensome affair. I was out shooting on Tuesday morning with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and just two lenses: the Olympus 75mm f1.8 and the Olympus 17mm f1.8. All fit comfortably in my svelte Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 shoulder bag.

Grape Leaf Oct 2013 Grape Leaf - Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus 75mm lens, ISO 200, F/2 - Photo by Derrick Story.

I did include a few accessories, such as a polarizer, small flash, Joby Gorillapod, iPad mini, and a couple snack bars. I dressed in layers so I could adjust my clothing as the environment changed. I wore the Nimble Photographer Walking Man cap to keep my head warm and the low-angled sun out of my eyes. In one of the side pockets of the Urban Reporter, I carried a water bottle to keep me hydrated while working.

Self Portrait in Dry Creek Self portrait with my light-footed nature photography kit.

Could I capture every type of nature shot with this rig? Of course not. Some days I take big tripods and big cameras. But other times, I just want to enjoy nature and bring home some images. And those are the times that I love traveling light.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This camera kit has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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iPad mini with Retina Display

Apple clearly designed the iPad mini with Retina display for nimble photographers. At .75 pound (341 grams) and fitting in an 8" x 6" area in your camera bag, you can have high resolution editing, publishing, and sharing with you at all times.

I was particularly happy to see the A7 processor included in this second generation tablet. Not only will it help power the 2048-by-1536 resolution display (at 326 pixels per inch), but it will make our photo editing a more pleasurable experience.

This will be the model where you'll want to spend the extra money for the WiFi + Cellular. I recommend the 32GB mini ($629) as the entry level model for nimble photographers. If you can afford to move up to 64GBs at $729, you'll probably be glad you did over the long haul.

With the added connectivity, you're not dependent on flaky WiFi networks while on the go. I think there's also an added level of security using cellular instead of public wireless. And in a pinch, your iPad can serve as an Internet access point for your computer and other devices. If you're using AT&T as a provider for your iPhone, then I would select Verizon for your iPad. That will expand your coverage area.

I would also take advantage of Cloud storage services, such as Photo Stream, Everpix, and Dropbox to help keep your mini from gobbling up too many megabytes on the device itself.

Since the second gen iPad mini won't be available until November, we have some time now to gather our resources. Highly recommended.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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

Dot Releases for Aperture and iPhoto

iphoto-aperture.jpg

Keeping with its current maintenance approach for photo applications, Apple released Aperture 3.5 and iPhoto 9.5. Each update is a combination of new features and bug fixes.

Aperture 3.5 Update

Under the heading, "We Knew the Other Shoe was Going to Drop," Apple replaced Google Maps with Apple Maps in Places. They added support for iCloud Photo Sharing, including the ability to post videos to shared photo streams and to have multiple subscribers contribute to a shared stream. And they provided the ability to sync and add galleries to Smugmug. iOS 7 filters also found their way into Aperture 3.5. Beyond that, the update focuses mainly on bug fixes.

iPhoto 9.5 Update

Many of the same themes we saw with the latest Aperture apply to iPhoto too. Beyond that, iPhoto users now can enjoy 64-bit processing, a redesigned interface for printing, and video sharing for Flickr users. Then of course, lots of bug fixes.

Both Aperture 3.5 and iPhoto 9.5 require Mac OS X 10.9. If you haven't upgraded to Mavericks yet, then you'll have to hold off on the new versions of the photo applications.

Full Version Updates?

Many users are asking about full version updates, especially Aperture 4, and when they will be released. That's difficult to predict. Since the introduction of the Mac App Store, Apple seems content to work with dot releases that are incremental and free. Will there ever be an Aperture 4? Outside of Apple, I don't think anyone knows.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, take a look at Portrait Retouching with Aperture. You may want to check out my other Aperture titles, including Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Sony drops the full frame bomb with the a7; The Nimbleosity Report - Panasonic's diminutive GM-1; From the Photo Help Desk - How can I repair a scratch on my camera's LCD screen? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Sony's full frame a7 - Now you can have your compact system camera and full frame sensor too. As early as November, well-heeled shooters will be able to order the Sony Alpha a7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens for $1,998. More lenses are promised, although they will not be cheap.

Highlights from this remarkable camera include:

  • 24.3MP full frame Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 3" tiltable TFT LCD with 1,229K dots
  • 2.4M-Dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Fast hybrid AF; 5 fps burst rate
  • Wi-Fi and NFC
  • 1080/60p video with uncompressed output
  • 14-bit RAW output

A few drawbacks to consider. Oddly enough the a7 does not ship with a battery charger. You have to recharge in-camera. The new FE lenses would be available for months, and when they are, they will be pricy: (FE 35mm F2.8 ZA $799.99, FE 55mm F1.8 ZA $999.99, FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS $1,199.99 (coming in early February), FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 ZA OSS $499.99, FE 70-200mm F4 OSS G (Pricing and release date TBA). And even though you can you existing E-mount lenses, they will only work in a crop mode on the A7/A7r, since they were not designed to cover a full-frame sensor.

Story #2 - Nimbleosity report on the tiny Panasonic GM1 mirrorless M 4/3 camera with 12-32mm Lens ($749). Amazing, roughly the size of the Sony RX100 compact camera, this little guy is the smallest micro four thirds camera to date.

But there are tradeoffs for this pint-sized wonder. Top shutter speed is 1/500th, no in-body image stabilization, no 1080p video, so-so battery life, no option for electronic viewfinder, and no hot shoe.

Personally, I'd much rather have the Panasonic GX7, even though it costs $250 more, the feature set is much more appealing.

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: How do I mitigate a scratched LCD on my camera. I have a home brew recipe to help.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (32 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The October 2013 photo assignment is "My House is My Castle."

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.

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.