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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Hands on with the Olympus OM-D E-M1; on the Nimbleosity Report - the super handy Lowepro Dashpoint 30; from the Photo Help Desk: the world's simplest, but highly effective flash bounce card - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Hands on with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera - This $1,400 body includes everything you'd expect, then adds some delightful surprises. A few of the niceties include:

  • Outstanding WiFi, for both downloading and camera control
  • Built-in microphone port (finally!) with modest audio controls
  • Four Thirds lens capability with adapter
  • Twin dial control wheels with function lever
  • Built-in HDR
  • Template mode to build multi-shot compositions
  • Timelapse function with movie assembly
  • Lens IS Priority for optically stabilized Panasonic glass
  • PC socket for traditional flash cords

So, how does this all add up for the E-M1? I render my verdict in the first segment of today's show.

Story #2 - The Nimbleosity Report: The Lowepro Dashpoint 30 versatile camera case that protects cameras up to an OM-D E-M5 with 14-42mm zoom. Highlight features include horizontally/vertical attachment option, removable shoulder strap with snap hooks, and #5 YKK zippers with pull tabs. I cover how I use this nifty case in today's second segment.

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: the world's simplest, yet effective flash bounce card. I make sure I always have business cards and rubber bands in my camera case. Why? I explain in the third segment of today's show.

Photo Assignment News

Photo Assignment for November is High ISO.

And we have three new winners for the SizzlPix Pick of the Month: August 2013 - Street Scene - Dominick Chiuchiolo; September 2013 - Grab Shot - Michael Fairbanks; and October 2013 - My House is My Castle - Keith Hartman.

For The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club members ... if you'd like additional copies of for gifts, or SizzlPix! of any other of your images to make spectacular, amazing holiday gifts, order any two SizzlPix! to be shipped together, and we'll give you 25% off on the second one! Order any size up to a mind-boggling 48 by 72" Imagine -- six feet! and no sacrifice in resolution, luminance, and impact. Just put "TDS " in the comments space on the sizzlpix.com order page. Of course, you may apply the discount to any number of pairs. And free shipping to any US mainland address.

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (31 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

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.

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

panasonic-gm1-front.jpg

It's the little camera that keeps on getting... high praise, that is. The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM1 scored very well in the recent PhotographyBlog review where Gavin Stoker wrote, "In a nutshell, if you loved what you saw of the output of the GX7 but felt the body would be better even smaller, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 could be well worth giving a proverbial spin."

This followed DP Review's Allison Johnson citing that the GM1 is her personal favorite of mirrorless cameras this year. She wrote, "It struck a chord with me particularly, since it seemed to be a weird mashup of each of the cameras I'd previously reviewed for DPR. If you took the concepts behind the Pentax Q7, Sony RX100 II and Olympus E-PM2 and threw them in a blender, the GM1 might be the thing that comes out."

Despite all of this online praise, the GM1 hasn't been a huge hit with consumers. In part, I think the $748 price tag has been the stumbling block. (It does include a handsome 12-32mm zoom lens.)

Reviewers cite that it's very well made and produces great images, justifying the price tag. So this is one to keep an eye on. If we start to see discounts on the GM1, you might want to revisit this gem of a mirrorless camera.


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.

For online guys like me, Cyber Monday is far more fun than Black Friday. Here are five great deals for photographers.

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Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150AW for $119.95

This is an outright steal for the nimblest of roller bags. It fits on any plane and holds a trip's worth of camera gear. Normal price is $279. But B&H is blowing them out for $119.95. If you've been procrastinating on getting a roller because of expense, then take a close look at this deal.

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Canon 320EX Flash for $139.99

This is a great wireless flash that I paid over $200 for. It's available today at Rakuten.com for $139.95. That's the best price I've seen for my favorite strobe.

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Nimble Photographer Gift Set for $49.95 with Free Shipping

Perfect gift for the Nimble Photographer or traveler in your life. Gift set includes the Walking Man cap (Navy/Tan colors), Walking Man Shoulder Bag (Black with silver embroidery), and two artisan gift cards, blank on the inside, (one to give and one to keep!) -- all neatly packed and ready to give. All you have to do is sign the card. The entire kit is only $49.95, and if you use coupon code: blackfriday2013 - the shipping is free to any deliverable address in the US.

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Benro MeFoto Roadtrip Travel Tripod w/ Dual Action Ballhead (Orange)for $149.99

Save $40 on this very popular and highly rated travel tripod. Hunt's Photo is is offering the MeFoto for $149.99. That's a great deal on a handsome set of sticks.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 for $278

A great enthusiast compact at an even better price. Adorama is selling the LX7 for $278. If you've been longing for a high end, nimble camera, this one is worth a look.


Nimble Photographer Logo

These products have high Nimbleosity Ratings. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Stephen Crossan

For the October 2013 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters explored their inner castle (and sometimes the outer too). See for yourself in our gallery, My House Is My Castle. And which one will be the SizzlPix Photo Assignment Pick of the Month?

Photo by Stephen Crossan. "Eilean Donan is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland second only to Edinburgh, but most of the shots are taken from the side showing the bridge that leads to the castle. I wanted to taken something different and waited until there was no one on the bridge and took the shot so the the bridge was leading you to the castle."

"I wish this was my home. I proposed to my wife here and later we got married in the castle. The best day of my life. See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Dec. 2013 assignment is "High ISO." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Dec. 31, 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: Dec. 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 October 2013 at the end of November, the Nov. gallery will be posted at the end of Dec., and on and on.

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


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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.

Many of our most convenient cameras capture in Jpeg mode only. They don't offer RAW. Typically this isn't a problem for snapshots and vacation candids. But what happens when we want to recover highlight and shadow information from these Jpegs? Is it possible?

University of Readlands After Highlight and Shadow Recovery Edited in Aperture - Both highlight and shadow information was recovered using tools in Aperture. Image captured at the University of Redlands by Derrick Story.

The short answer is, yes, you can recover detail in the light and dark areas... just not as much or as elegantly as with Raw files.

The top image was recorded as a Jpeg, then edited in Aperture. I used the Highlights and Shadows sliders, and a few other tools to balance out the tones. Compare it to the original shot below.

University of Readlands Original Jpeg Original photo from Canon PowerShot N - Original version prior to editing.

You'll see that, even though the original file is a Jpeg, I was able to open up the shadow areas in the top image quite a bit. Then using highlight recovery, show a bit more detail in the building.

I could probably enhance the picture even further if the original was a Raw file. But the point is, don't be afraid to shoot Jpegs when needed. With great tools such as Aperture, iPhoto, Adobe Camera Raw, and Lightroom, you can still refine these images and make them quite presentable.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about image editing in 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.

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Olympus Image Share

One of the notable enhancements for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is the addition of built-in WiFi. When coupled with Olympus Image Share, you can transfer images, enable geotag logging, and even control the camera remotely.

But I've discovered that not all WiFi is implemented equally. So I was curious about the ease of pairing the E-M1 with my iPad mini. In short, the good news is that Olympus has done a good job of making this a painless experience.

The initial pairing is handled via a QR code displayed on the E-M1's LCD. I scanned it with the iPad mini, and boom, the configuration was handled for me. Nice touch.

After that, I could enable a private connection by tapping the WiFi icon on the camera's LCD. On the iPad, I then go to Settings and choose the network generated by the camera. Last step is launching the Olympus Image Share app so the two devices can communicate.

Import Photos

Browsing Thumbnails in Olympus Image Share

On the iPad, I tap on Import Photos, and I'm quickly presented with thumbnails from the camera's memory card. The large versions load fairly fast too. When I saw something I liked, I tapped the share button and copied the picture to my Camera Roll.

The process was seamless. It's just as easy to move images from the E-M1 to my iPad as it is with the Canon PowerShot N, which is my benchmark for this type of task.

Other Functions in Olympus Image Share

The Remote Control feature is also quite good, providing a variety of camera controls. I like using it more with the iPhone than the iPad so I can enable functions with just one hand.

You can start a geotag log and apply the data to the images captured with the E-M1. Keep in mind that you'll use more battery power on your iOS device when this is turned on.

And finally, the Edit Photo function provides you with a complete set of Art Filters, that are well implemented, and a text tool that you can use to add a watermark to any image on your Camera Roll. That's a slick hidden feature that's actually quite useful.

Bottom Line

Built-in WiFi on the OM-D E-M1 coupled with Olympus Image Share is a powerful tandem. If you're looking for a reason to upgrade from an OM-D E-M5, I would say this could push some photographers just a bit closer toward the new body.

I know I'm wishing that my E-M5 had this capability.


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.

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Special Edition Nimble Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers. I'll discuss 10 affordable items that are sure to please the photo hound in your life. All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

The Eye-Fi Mobi 16GB SDHC Wireless Memory Card ($67) - Even though we wish every one of our cameras had built-in WiFi, the fact is many don't. The Mobi is the best accessory solution I've used so far.

Purchase: Eye-Fi Mobi 16GB SDHC Wireless Memory Card

Background article: Eye-Fi Mobi Review.


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Lowepro S&F Lens Exchange Case 100 AW $35

The nifty lens case is designed for rapid exchange so you can take out your lens with one hand, replace it on your camera, and store the removed lens. The interior of the case has a dual compartment design that holds two lenses while the case is open but will not close with both lenses inside. Comes with belt attachment and a very nice strap.

Purchase: Lowepro S&F Lens Exchange Case 100 AW.

Background article: Need a Spare Hand? Lowepro Lens Exchange Case 100 AW.


Folded Lollipod

The Lollipod Multipurpose Ultralight Accessory Stand $55

I was skeptical until I actually started carrying one around. I've used the Lollipod as a light stand, microphone holder, and camera support. It looks cute, packs light, and would delight just about any light-footed photographer.

Purchase: Lollipod from its creators in the UK.

Background article: Is the Lollipod Really Useful?


The Nimble Photographer Gift Set $39

This will make your life easy. This Nimble Gift Set includes the black Walking Man Shoulder Bag with embroidered Nimble Photographer, a stainless steel Wenger 26-ounce water bottle (that fits in the bag), two artisan gift cards, and a holiday gift bag. All you have to do is sign the card and hand over the gift. Appreciated by travelers and photographers alike.

Purchase: The Nimble Photographer Gift Set

Background article: The Bag Within a Bag Concept


Joby Gorillapod Micro 800 Tripod $20

This little gem features a stainless steel micro positioning ball that allows for 36° of movement in any direction for precise control in photo or video composition for cameras weighing up to 1.76 lbs. I keep one with me at all times, and just love it.

Purchase: Joby Gorillapod Micro 800 Tripod

Background article: The Clever Joby Micro 800 GorillaPod


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Flashpoint 24" One Handed Reflector and Calibration Target $19.95

I love working with disc reflectors, but I don't always have an assistant to hold them for me. I found the Flashpoint 24" Triangular Collapsible Disc that has a rigid design and can be held by one hand. It's silver on one side, providing lots of fill light. And on the other side it has black, white, and gray segments that can be used for establishing exposure and for color balance in post.

Purchase: Flashpoint 24" One Handed Reflector

Background article on Flashpoint reflector.


Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Lens Cap for M4/3 $59

If you like pancake lenses, you're going to love this. The just-announced Olympus BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Cap Lens is literally the size of a body cap, yet transforms to become a fixed focus snapshot lens that's a blast to shoot with. The lens is just 9mm thick, and when the cover is in place (to protect the glass), it looks like a body cap for your micro four thirds camera.

Purchase: Olympus BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Lens Cap for Olympus/Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras

Background article on Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Lens Cap


ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Small Positionable Reflector $35

Anyone who uses an external flash will appreciate this nifty diffusing accessory (that really works). I like that it fits just about anywhere in my camera bag. And it really improves portraits captured with flash.

Purchase: ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Small Positionable Reflector

Background article: Rogue FlashBender Large Positionable Light Modifier for Portraits


Canon 40mm Pancake Lens $149

After a year of shooting with the Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM lens,I have to say this is one enjoyable little prime. At half the size of the 50mm f/1.8, it focuses quieter, is built sturdier, and is ever bit as sharp. Plus it hardly takes up any room!

Purchase: Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM Lens

Background article on Canon 40mm pancake lens.


Photographer Parking Only Sign $8

This will bring a smile to any photographer's face: Their own "Parking Only" sign complete with Violators Will Be Shot warning.

Purchase: Photographer Parking Only Sign


Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (28 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Photo Assignment for November is Critters.

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.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - For The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club members ... if you'd like additional copies of for gifts, or SizzlPix! of any other of your images to make spectacular, amazing holiday gifts, order any two SizzlPix! to be shipped together, and we'll give you 25% off on the second one! Order any size up to a mind-boggling 48 by 72" Imagine -- six feet! and no sacrifice in resolution, luminance, and impact. Just put "TDS " in the comments space on the sizzlpix.com order page. Of course, you may apply the discount to any number of pairs. And free shipping to any US mainland address.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

I'm doing some preliminary testing with the Sigma DP2 Merrill Compact Digital Camera. Sigma claims "the DP2 can more accurately reproduce colors, and capture sharper resolution images, than any camera the same size." I wanted to put this claim to test.

Sigma DP2 Merrill at 100 Percent Jpeg from DP2 magnified to 100 percent on a Retina display MacBook Pro.

After just one afternoon of shooting, I can tell you that this compact camera with an APS-C, 46 MP Foveon X3 Direct Image sensor and Sigma fixed focal length 30mm f/2.8 lens, can capture outstanding images. The color is vibrant and accurate, sharpness is excellent, and shadow/highlight detail quite pleasing.

Examining this Jpeg from the Santa Monica pier at 100 percent on my MacBook Pro 15" with Retina display was a delight for my eyes. And I haven't even dug in to the Raw files yet. (You can download the Jpeg here.)

More to come from this intriguing compact camera. But we're off to an impressive start.

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Designing Your Holiday Greeting Cards

I don't send out many holiday greetings. But I do like to celebrate the season with the important people in my life. And when I do, I make my own fine art cards.

Christmas Cactus 2013

Since I have a Christmas Cactus in my studio that blooms in November, it makes an excellent subject to feature on the cover. I make sure I get a good series while it's in full bloom.

Then I check that I have enough printing supplies on hand. I use Red River Paper Card Stock in my Epson R2000 to create my mailable masterpieces.

If this project sounds appealing to you, now is the time to get your plan and supplies together. If you use Aperture, I have a few tips to help you design your cards. And certainly you can use other applications too for making cards.

Fine art greeting cards make a satisfying gift. You took the pictures, processed the images, designed the cards, then printed the final product with your own hands. Slip a store certificate inside, and you've got a great present.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) 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.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Adding a vignette to landscape and portrait images can help direct the viewer's eye to important areas. There are times, however, when you need more control than a single vignette can provide. That's when the double-vignette technique can prove helpful.

Double Vignette in Aperture 3 By using two vignette controls instead of one, you have more control over the gradation. Photo by Derrick Story.

Setting this up is easy. First make sure Vignette is active in your Adjustments pane. If not, go to the Add Adjustment popup menu and choose it. My first vignette usually has a radius just for the edges of the image. Adjust intensity to taste.

Then click on the gear icon in the Vignette brick, and choose Add New Vignette Adjustment. The radius for the second brick often covers more ground. By balancing the two Vignette adjustments, I have more control over the tones than with a single adjustment.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn about portrait retouching in 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.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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