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Five years ago when writing Digital Photography Companion, I recommended staying away from the digital zoom setting on a compact camera. My feeling was that it's better to rely on the optics of your lens, then crop as needed. So if you have a 28-105mm optical zoom, use 105mm, and stay away from adding on focal length by turning on the digital zoom function for that camera.

Landing Sea birds in Santa Barbara with a Canon PowerShot N and digital zoom.

But with today's cameras, should you really avoid the digital zoom? Every now and then I like to revisit my opinions to see if they still apply in the face of changing technology.

To test my digital zoom opinion, I photographed sea birds in Santa Barbara with a Canon PowerShot N that has an 8X optical lens plus a 32X digital zoom. I normally stay away from anything over 8X. But this evening, I shot with wild abandon using 12X, 24X, and sometimes even more.

Heron

I worked with these 12 MP Jpegs just as I would normally edit any other picture in Aperture. I cropped as needed, adjusted color, tweaked exposure, etc. I didn't add any sharpening, however, because I didn't want the image to fall apart.

Birds and Boats Birds and Boats with a Canon PowerShot N using the digital zoom.

So after reviewing these images on my MacBook Pro Retina display, have I changed my opinion about the digital zoom function? Not entirely.

But I'm certainly softening my stance about using digital zoom. For highest quality, I still shy away from letting the camera play with my image. But in certain situations, I'll consider it, especially if the images are being captured for web publishing.


I used Flickr to publish these images. If you want to learn more about Flickr, check out my Flickr Essential Training on lynda.com.

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Both TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) and EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association) have announced their Best Cameras and Lenses of 2013. There are not many surprises in the respective lists. But what's interesting are the differences.

For example, in the DSLR categories, Canon fared better with TIPA (EOS Rebel SL1 and 6D), while in Europe, Nikon had the stronger showing with the D800 and the D4. In the expert compact category, TIPA like the Fujifilm X20 while EISA preferred the Sony RX100. And for best mirrorless body? TIPA selected the Panasonic GH3 while EISA choose the Samsung NX20 (EISA awarded the OM-D top honors in a different category).

Bottom line is, it's pretty much what I've been saying all along: there are so many great cameras out there. It's a matter of which one is the best fit for you. You can see the entire list at dphotojournal.com.

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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.

BW Scooter with BW Lab

Photographers who love black and white imagery should consider the iPad among their editing options. For far less money than computer hardware/software, you can create outstanding monochrome and duotone images. Two of my favorite apps for this work are B&W Lab ($1.99) and Snapseed (free), which I cover in Chapter 3 of iPad for Digital Photographers.


Woman on Scooter by Derrick Story, edited in B&W Lab on an iPad mini.


Either app lets you import an image from your Camera Roll, Photo Stream, or any album on your iPad. Once the image is loaded, you can view variations via a collection of built-in presets. B&W Lab includes 15 presets and 5 film emulsions: Fuji Neopan, Ilford Pan, Kodak Tmax, Agfa, and Newpan. Snapseed features 6 presets. Each app allows you to fine tune the image with exposure controls, color filters, grain, and more. Once you've finished editing, save the B&W photo back to your Camera Roll or publish online.

As I illustrate in iPad for Digital Photographers, serious artists can use these affordable tools to create compelling works. Open one of your favorite photographs in B&W Lab or Snapseed, and see what inspires you.

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DSLR Camera Question on Photo Help Desk

This week on The Digital Story: Photography Q&A, some of your favorite questions answered, smoke gets in my lens at the BBQ competition, and guess what I'm working on at lynda.com? (hint: Aperture titles.) - All of this and more in today's photography podcast.

Story #1 - I cover three questions from the Photo Help Desk - Histograms and exposure compensation, software plug-ins for Aperture and Lightroom, and the new iMac as an image editing machine. All three queries have interesting answers.

Story #2 - Smoke gets in my lens. We had a great time covering the Wine Country Big-Q BBQ competition in Santa Rosa, CA. Our advanced workshop team (Rebecca, Craig, and Ken) captured hundreds of frames, ate more BBQ than they could imagine, and had very interesting conversations with the competitors. This is a colorful crew (and so are the photographers). I recap the event and talk about advanced workshops in general.

Story #3 - New Aperture training videos. No, it's not version 4. But I am recording two new Aperture titles this week: Portrait Retouching, and Enhancing Product Photography. These are focused tutorials that will show you exactly how to create professional results using Aperture's image editing tools.

Reminder! - If you're going to purchase gear through Amazon or B&H Photo, please stop by the TDS home page first. Look for the "Products" box about half way down the page in the second column. There you will see display tiles for Amazon, lynda.com, and B&H Photo, in that order. By entering those sites through those display tiles, you help support The Digital Story.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast here (26 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 July 2013 photo assignment is Duality.

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. Special Summer Sale! Just add "TDS: in the comments space of your SizzlPix! order, and you will get 20 percent off the entire order. Limited time offer. Take advantage now.

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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How to Make a Postcard in Flickr

Flickr Postcard

Sharing travel adventures via postcards are as old as vacations themselves. You can keep this tradition alive using Flickr on your mobile device or computer. Its editing application enables you to add frames, type, and effects.

Start with a photo that represents your current activity. If you're using your iPhone, access the Camera Roll via the camera function in Flickr for iOS. Once you select the image, tap on the pencil icon in the upper right corner. Here you can choose a frame and add type. Once you apply that, you can also select a filter.

Upload the image to your Flickr account. I also save a version to my Camera Roll (this is an option in Settings). From either location, I can send my postcard to friends and family.

This process is even easier on your computer. Watch this short movie from my Flickr Essential Training title on lynda.com to see how to use the online photo editor to create postcards.

Adding Text and Frames
Flickr Essential Training | by Derrick Story

Regardless if you use your mobile device or computer, you can create memorabilia from your images that will delight your friends this summer, and for years to come.


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.

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When the lights go down, I need a fast, sharp lens to help me capture the mood while keeping up with the action. For a recent assignment, the Wine Country Big-Q BBQ competition, I depended on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens for my Canon DSLR.

Preparing the Ribs The Sigma lens handles this situation so easily you don't even realize it's low light.

Most of the time, I work in Aperture Priority with the Sigma 35mm lens, parking the f/stop at f/1.4. This gives me the look I want, even with a cropped sensor camera (in this case, a Canon 60D). By working close to my subjects, I can create a feeling of "being there." Yet, the backgrounds soften nicely.

Ready for the Cooker I like how the lens handles the background in these types of shots.

The focusing is quick, accurate, and quiet - very important for event coverage. If there's a gesture, or the elements in a composition come together perfectly for a moment, I want to be able to capture that.

What a Band! It's plenty sharp too!

Low light event photography presents plenty of challenges. Subjects on the move, often in dimly lit environments. I do carry a flash if I need it. But my first choice is to find an exposure that lets me work with the light that's already there. I've grown dependent on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 prime lens in those situations.

BTW: Never cover a BBQ event on an empty stomach...

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The Road Taken

How did I embed this Instagram shot? Check out my post titled, How to Embed Instagram Photos.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

How to Embed Instagram Photos

Finally, there's an easy way to embed your Instagram photos on your blog or anywhere else online that accepts HTML code. Here are the steps.

Step 1 - Go to your Instagram profile and click the Share button

Click the Share Button

Step 2 - Copy the Embed Code. If the code isn't highlighted, then you'll have to do that yourself. Also, if the copy button doesn't work for you, just use your regular copy command (Edit > Copy).

Copy the Embed Code

Step 3 - Paste the embed code in your blog site.

Paste Code

The original proportions in the embed code were too big for my site, 612 x 710. So I changed those dimensions to 500 x 580 in the code.

You can see a sample post using this technique.

Having the capability to share my Instagram photos via my other sites is important. I create images there that are often unique. The embed process isn't sophisticated, but it does get the job done.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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Is Capture One 7 the way to go if you're shooting with a new Fujifilm X-Trans sensor? In the blog post, Fuji X-Trans sensor excels in Capture One 7, PhaseOne blogger NIELS V. KNUDSEN writes:

"Many algorithms and process steps in the Capture One processing pipeline have been modified in order to handle this new pattern. As a result, Capture One now has a solution with which you can achieve excellent details and precise colors using these X-trans cameras." Knudsen goes on to say that control of moire and more precise color rendering are the real benefits.

If true, this could shine a new light on Capture One 7, at least by Fujifilm shooters. If anyone has experience with this combination, please post your comment on the TDS Facebook page.


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Have you wondered if a $39 lens could be any good? Such is the case with the Olympus 15mm f/8.0 body cap lens that we first saw back at Photokina. And now, DP Review has put it on the bench and filed the report, Olympus Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 review.

olympus_body_cap_lens.jpg Body Lens Cap on an Olympus Pen mini. Be sure the lever lines up perfectly with the white dot when shooting. Improper position shown here. (Move just a bit more to the right!)

Their bottom line? "The Body Cap Lens 15mm F8 isn't the kind of lens that's ever going to do well in technical testing, or satisfy photographers who like to look at their images in fine detail or print them large... What the 15mm does offer, though, is the ability to turn a Micro Four Thirds body into a tiny package that's ready shoot at the flick of a lever, and capture images which are good enough for social sharing, or as a basis for further manipulation, such as with in-camera filters."

Personally, I like it as, well, a body cap. I keep it on my second camera, the Pen Mini, so it takes up very little space in my camera bag. If I need to grab a quick shot, the body cap lens gets the job done until I have a few moments to mount the "proper" lens I want to use. And at $39, I've paid more for a lens hood.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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