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The HyperDrive iStick is a pocketable Flash drive with a Lightning connector on one end and USB on the other. By using its free iStick app for iPad and iPhone, users can share files among all of their iOS devices and Mac or PC computers. It's particularly useful for bringing movies with you on long journeys.

In my testing, I've been able to accomplish the following with the iStick:

  • Backup photos from an iPad/iPhone to the iStick.
  • Stream movies from the iStick to an iOS device.
  • Play music from the iStick through my iPad/iPhone.
  • Move photos from the computer to the iPad

The device does work. I've streamed movies from a variety of formats to my iPad and iPhone. iStick's built-in player handles the playback. All I had to do was launch the iStick app on the iOS device, navigate to the movie I wanted to watch, and select it. The player itself is quite basic. But you can enjoy the video without having to copy anything to your mobile device. And since most feature movies are 1 GB or larger, that relieves a lot of pressure off the iPad or iPhone.

PC065132.jpg The iStick includes a Lightning extender cable so you don't have to remove the case from your mobile device to use it.

Same goes for music. I use Apple's iCloud to manage my music library and to free up space on my devices. Works great except when Internet isn't available, such as flying cross country. With the iStick, you can load up your albums and stream them to your iPhone/iPad without any stress on the device. Again, the player is very basic.

movie-player-istick.jpg The iStick has its own movie player, as basic as it is.

Here's where we start to get in to the nits of the device. The hardware seems fine on initial inspection. But the iStick software needs work. Is it functional? Yes, in a basic way. But it does not have the fit and finish that most of us expect from iOS applications.


Plus, as it stands now, it's not very useful for photographers. Why? The biggest problem is that photos are displayed with filenames and a generic icon. No image thumbnails. So yes, you can backup your iPad to the iStick on the road. But if you want to find a photo, you'll have to wait until you can copy them to a device that displays thumbnails.

Plus there's no swiping or slideshow feature. So you have to open files one by one to display them. This isn't practical at all for showing others your work.

Along the same lines, the music player does not move from song to song through the folder. So you have to play each track individually. That's nuts. And you don't get any standard controls beyond play/pause. No album artwork either. Same complaints go for the movie player, but since you don't have to change tracks that often, it's more tolerable.

The bottom line is this: The iStick 16GB USB Flash Drive with Lightning for iPhone and iPad ($109) does provide easy, secure sharing among your devices. But it's hampered by subpar software. Right now, I see its best use for viewing movies on the plane, because the built-in player can handle that function, and the nature of movies is to hit "play" and sit back. But beyond that, the iStick needs an overhauling of its software for the device to get a positive review.

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The Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. zoom lens, designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras, packs a ton of quality into a small, jewell-like package.

The optic weighs a mere 4.76 ounces and is measures a svelte 2.19" x 1.97" (DxL). Yet, its effective focal length is 70mm-200mm, perfect for outdoor field work. When mounted on Panasonic mirrorless cameras, the optic's built-in image stabilization is rated at 3 stops.

On Olympus bodies, photographers have the option of using sensor-based stabilization or optical MEGA O.I.S. They can switch to optical in the "gear" menu > "C" Release > Lens I.S. Priority. Since the optical stabilizer is quieter than the sensor-based alternative, there may be situations where Olympus owners want to take advantage of this feature.


The Panasonic lens maintains its compact size by retracting. To use it, twist to the right to move it into zooming position. The nicely-damped zooming ring keeps the barrel in place regardless of shooting position. The manual focusing ring also feels good. Like the image stabilization, switching to manual focus happens in the camera's menu. There are no switches on the lens itself.

Outdoors, focusing is fast and accurate. Indoors, the lens may hunt for a second or two before confirmation. This highlights the fact that the Panasonic 35-100mm f/4-5.6 is an outdoor lens. Its maximum aperture and focusing capability will not satisfy the indoor, existing light photographer. Outside, however, the optic is a joy to use.

panasonic-35-100mm-leaf.jpg Autumn leaf captured at the 100mm setting on the Panasonic zoom mounted on an Olympus OM-D E-M10: f/5.6, -1 EV, ISO 250, 1/200th sec., optical stabilization.

Image quality is excellent edge to edge, with slightly better performance in the center. Distortion and chromatic aberration are also well-controled, a surprising performance for such a compact, affordable zoom.

panasonic-35-100mm-building.jpg Try as I may, I could not get the lens to produce noticeable chromatic aberration: focal length 35mm, f/11.

The Panasonic 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 zoom lens was released in late October for $397. It's styled to compliment the Panasonic GM line of mirrorless bodies. But it looks great on the Olympus cameras too. Its metal barrel construction and mount feel solid, and the swift focusing via the stepping motor inspire confidence. The optical performance is very satisfying.

panasonic-35-100mm-flower.jpg Flower close-up captured at 100mm, f/5.6. Photos by Derrick Story.

Bottom line: I love this lens. It's a quality optic that's easy to carry with me. My prediction is that I'll be capturing beautiful images with it for a very long time.

Nimble Photographer Logo

This Panasonic 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 zoom lens has a very high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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The latest version of DxO OpticsPro was introduced right before PhotoPlus Expo. It can be used as a standalone app or integrated in to a Lightroom 5.7 workflow. And for RAW shooters, it adds a fast, powerful way to process those files.

default-workspace-dxo.jpg The starting point workspace for DxO OpticsPro. It can be configured to your tastes.


In my opinion, DxO OpticsPro is for photographers who want their images to shine, but who don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time fiddling with them in post. The software has a knack for bringing out the best in a photograph through its intelligent algorithms and lens profiles that correct distortion, minimize noise, enhance contrast. And with the latest version, removes haze via a new feature called ClearView.

I wrote about ClearView in an article titled, New ClearView Feature Shines in DxO OpticsPro 10. In short, it wipes away atmospheric haze for landscapes, and air pollution for urban scenes. I also discuss how to integrate DxO with Lightroom 5.7 in the article.

The bottom line is this: DxO OpticsPro 10 Elite costs $149 (through Dec. 25th) and is an intelligent, easy-to-use RAW processor that produces beautiful results.

It runs on Mac or Windows computers, can also fine-tune Tiffs and Jpegs, and supports camera and lens profiles for most popular hardware. In my case, all of my Canon, Olympus, and Panasonic gear had profiles.

And to be honest, I really like what it does to my RAW files.

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"Water" - TDS Photo Assignment 103

For the Oct. 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got their feet wet. See for yourself in our gallery, Water. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?


Photo by Glenn Hubbers. Glenn writes, "I took this shot at sunrise after being out for half the night trying my hand at astrophotography. Despite going out to capture star trails, (which was a failure that will need more practice!) I decided to hang out to see the sunrise. After all was said and done, I thought this shot was the best of the trip. I had travelled for the weekend up to Tobermory, Ontario to get away from light pollution. It was a great trip, just me and my camera kit hanging out for the weekend." See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the gallery, Water.

Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Dec. 2014 assignment is "Frozen." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Dec. 31, 2014. 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. 2014." 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. 2014 gallery at the end of Nov., 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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Affordable Gifts for Photographers

Being a photographer, I know how difficult it can be to shop for one. For example, right now I would love to have the new Panasonic Lumix GM5 mirrorless camera. Unfortunately, it costs $897. I don't really have any friends who like me that much. (But, hey, the shipping is free!)


But I do have folks in my circle who will spend $25, $50, or even $75 for something special. So I wrote the article 11 Great Gifts for Photographers - All Under $100 for those who care about the shooters in their lives, and want to get them a goodie for the holidays.

For example, did you know that you can get the versatile Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW for $55? That will knock their Christmas socks off! And there's more...

Hop over to the Article Center and peruse 11 Great Gifts for Photographers - All Under $100. It just might save you $800.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Manual Exposure Mode Situations, Photo Q&A: How to Shoot a Buffalo, Gifts for Photographers Under $100, a Surprise Birthday Party - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Snapshot - The Birthday Party - I think it's difficult going to an event as a civilian, then suddenly being pressed in to duty for the big shot. I discuss a case in point in this week's snapshot.

Weekly Update - Cactus V6 update adds Micro Four Thirds and Metz flashguns to wireless control list - Olympus FL-50R, FL-36R and Panasonic FL-500R and FL-360R. (Source: DP Review)

In other news, Rumor: FAA may kill commercial drone operations by requiring a full pilots' license (Source: Imaging-Resource)

And finally, 20 Dos and Don'ts for Shooting the Moon - Do use a tripod and telephoto lens; don't use a slow shutter speed and image stabilization. (Source: Digital Photography School).

ny-at-night.jpg Manual exposure was used to capture this NY night scene. Photo by Derrick Story.

Story #1 - 5 Situations for Manual Exposure:

  1. Nighttime exposures outside
  2. Fill flash indoors
  3. Off-camera flash outdoors
  4. Flowing waterfalls
  5. Street shooting

Story #2 - Photo Q&A with Leah - "Shooting Dark Objects in Contrasty Midday Light" - Leah wants to photograph a buffalo. To help her, I cover RAW, spot metering, and recovering shadow detail. 

Story #3 - 10 Photo Gifts Under $100 - I've published a fun post over at Article Center with some terrific gift ideas for photographers, under $100. Here are a few of my favorites from that list:

  • Joby GorillaPod Micro 800 Tripod ($20)
  • Nanuk 903 Case ($30)
  • Kenu Stance Compact Tripod for iPhone ($29)
    • Virtual Camera Club News

      Photo Assignment for December 2014 is "Frozen".

      Red River Paper - Save 10 percent off your next order of inkjet paper and greeting cards. Good one per customer. Use discount code STORY10X - Ends 1/15/15.

      And Finally...

      If you haven't done so already, please post a review for The Digital Story Podcast in iTunes.

      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 That helps support the site.

      Download the Show

      In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (37 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.

      Podcast Sponsors - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at

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

      SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until June!

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Canon 24mm Pancake Performs Well Too


When Canon announced its compact EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens for $149, the only real question was its performance. And now we have more information about that too.

PhotographyBlog reports in their post, Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Review:

"Image quality is very good. Centre sharpness is excellent even at the maximum aperture, and almost as impressive at the edges of the frame. Chromatic aberrations are fairly well controlled, although there's obvious vignetting at the maximum aperture and some barrel distortion too. The lens doesn't ship with a hood, although it didn't really exhibit any unwanted flare effects."

They went on to give it 4.5 stars, stating that "We can strongly recommend the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM as an extremely small and lightweight prime lens for APS-C DSLR owners that won't break the bank."

I think this optic would be particularly attractive to Rebel and 70D owners. You can read all the details for yourself over at

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I've been using the Lumu light meter for iPhone since it was first released. Using the dongle along with the Lumu Photo app, I could employ my smartphone for incident light measurements.

Now, with version 2.0, photographers can take reflective readings too - no dongle required. Lumu Photo uses the iPhone's camera for reading the light. So all you have to do is download the app, fire it up, and start taking meter readings. And if you need spot readings, just tap on the screen in the area that you want to measure.

Lumu Photo can be a lifesaver for analog film shooters with non-metering cameras. But this app is also handy for evaluating scenes, double-checking your camera's light meter, and of course, taking incident measurements if you have the Lumu dongle (which happens to be on sale at the moment).

I tested the performance of the reflective meter with an iPhone 5S, and the readouts were very accurate, producing excellent exposures. The app also includes the ability to save meter readings, along with location data, and your notes via iCloud, then synced across devices. Again, great for scouting missions for both photo and video projects.

Speaking of which, Luma also makes a Video and Pinhole app.

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Note: Now that Black Friday is over, so is the special price for this kit. It does, however, remain in the store at $34.95.

A great deal in the Nimble Photographer Store for 24 hours only - the Walking Man Shoulder Bag + Dual-Function Stylus Pen + microfiber cloth - entire kit for $19.95 (regular $34.95). Here's more about it.


Take the stairs instead of the elevator - You're light on your feet with the Walking Man Shoulder Bag slung across your back.

The Urban Explorer Kit includes our classic Shoulder Bag designed by Lowepro and made of recycled material (it's planet friendly!), the Dual-Function Nimble Stylus Pen (perfect for iPad browsing in a restaurant or coffee shop), and the "I have a high nimbleosity rating" Microfiber cloth (for keeping your electronics and optics nice and shiny).

The kit comes packed with the Stylus Pen and Microfiber Cloth nestled in their dedicated pockets inside the Shoulder Bag. Plus, we include a holiday gift bag. So all you have to do is sign the card and present the gift.

The Black Friday Sale Price is effective until 11:59 PM on Friday Nov. 28th. Offer good while supplies last.

Ghost with Beach Background.jpg

I was just contacted by the folks at Ghost Drone, letting me know that they have an IndieGoGo project going that can get backers flying for as little as $375. The other thing that caught my eye, as a potential pilot with no experience, is that they claim that the Ghost "is the world's easiest drone to fly. It is perfect for first-timers and experienced pilots alike."

OK, you've got my attention.

The basic kit doesn't include a gimbal (stabilizing camera mount), so it's more for learning to fly, then you can add your own gimbal later if you wish. But if you're willing to back the project for $599, you get everything your need to mount a GoPro camera to the Ghost and start recording images and video from above. If you don't have a camera already, there's a $979 package that includes the Ghost Drone, gimbal, and GoPro4 Silver Edition. This is considerably less than the DJI Inspire-1 for $2,800 (without controller) that I wrote about last week.

Drone App on Phone.jpg

Speaking of controllers, you don't have to buy one for the Ghost Drone because it uses an iPhone or Android device to control it. The software is free. "Travel light with just your phone, and let Auto Mode do the flying, so you can focus on generating the perfect shot. Point your finger on the map, and the drone flies to that spot. No bulky RC controller to carry around. Just your phone and a small G-Box."

Ghost is going to send me the $375 basic kit in January so I can test it. My backing is this blog post. Their focus at the moment is trying to raise as much capital as possible via the IndieGoGo project, which is open only until Dec. 10, 2014.

If you want to try your hand at ariel photography, but have been nervous before about your skill level or making a big investment, there are still good deals available for backers. Then we'll all get together in February and compare notes.

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