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I've been following the news from CES in Las Vegas, and I'm amazed at how many compact cameras are being announced. It's not just the variety of manufacturers that dazzles me, but the sheer number of models each camera maker is releasing.

For example, Sony announced 12 Cyber-shot compacts, Olympus chimed in with at least 9 new models, Panasonic adds 5 more, Samsung lists 4 new models, Canon released 4 new compacts, and I'm sure there are others I have forgotten. Are we buying that many point and shoots?

I thought the walls were closing in on the standard point and shoot. I mean, these days we have smart phones that are capturing 3 and 5 megapixel images, and micro four thirds systems that are half the size of traditional DSLRs. Don't get me wrong, I love compact cameras, but there's a lot of competition out there. Even a photo geek like me only buys a new compact every 18 months or so. And I know a lot of people with cameras that are 3 years or older.

So, I'm curious. How often do you buy a compact camera? Please post a comment and let us know. Maybe I'm totally off-base about this whole quantity thing.

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Aperture Workshop at Macworld 2010


I'll be leading a 2-day workshop at Macworld 2010 titled, Professional Photography Adventure with Aperture. The dates are Feb. 9 & 10 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. I think the title of the seminar is particularly appropriate for this year's class. There's always the chance that Aperture 3 will be released before Macworld, giving us the opportunity to have the first full workshop on the updated photo management application. Plus, I've been working on ways to integrate Aperture into a broader photo workflow, and I'll be covering that too.

Either way, this is going to be a wild ride. So I hope you join me. You can sign up now at the Macworld site.

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Do You Have a Spare USB Port?


There were lots of great announcements today from Canon, Eye-Fi, and Lexar. But one of my favorite new goodies may have been overshadowed by all of the hoopla: the 32GB Echo ZE Backup Drive (also from Lexar) that provides anytime backup of files because it resides barely noticeable in a spare USB port.

The Echo also comes with automatic backup software: " Built-in Lexar Echo backup software securely and automatically encrypts files and performs ongoing backup to any files in use, targeting essential files to help protect your working data. It also easily restores previously saved versions of a file, preventing you from accidentally overwriting or deleting files. And the software works across platforms with one seamless interface, allowing you to easily back up or restore files on either a PC or a Mac system."

Lexar says the Echo ZE Backup Drive is coming soon. I'll keep an eye peeled and let you know when I see it.

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In this follow-up to last week's show, I finally nail down my photography workflow for 2010. I've decided to go the "referenced file" approach. So I purchased a new LaCie 320GB Rugged Triple Interface Portable Hard Drive (7200 rpm), cleaned off the hard drive on my MacBook Pro, and designed a totally flexible photo management system. You can hear all of the details in this week's show.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (19 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Slippery is the Jan. 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2010.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

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Camera Club Specials for Jan. 2010

Here's a new Digital Story feature for 2010: Camera Club Specials. Once a month I receive a list of deals on photography gear from the folks over at B&H Photo. I sift through the list and pick a few items to feature as club specials for the month. If you see something you like, just click on the link to read more about it on its product page. Enjoy!


Special #1: Lowepro Toploader 65 AW Camera Holster Bag - Color: Black; Condition: Brand new/Never used -- In original manufacturer's packaging -- $29.95

Special #2: Canon Selphy ES40 Compact Photo Printer - $89.95, plus you can save another $50 via Canon rebate (offer ends 1/31/2010)

Special #3: Xuma SEP-10 In-Ear Stereo Earphones - pouch and extra sleeves included -- $19.95


Special #4: Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens - USA warranty, for APS sensor Canons such as the 50D, Rebel T1i, and Rebel XSi -- special price ends on 1/16/10 -- free shipping -- $392

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Tripods Getting Smarter Too

The march of innovation affects everything, not just the latest digital camera or computer. Tripods are an excellent case in point. Take a look at the new Davis & Sanford Traverse Tripod ($169) that folds up ingeniously to a mere 16", but extends to a comfortable 57".

Other companies, such as Benro, offer the Travel Angel Aluminum Tripod, ($231) that's a full-featured, sturdy camera support with legs that also fold up over the tripod head resulting in a compact unit you can take just about anywhere.

Even traditional brands, such as Manfrotto, offer a 4-Section Tripod with Ballhead ($115) that's relatively compact (19" folded) and supports most DSLRs and all compacts.

My point is, if you haven't looked at tripods lately, like everything else, they have continued to improve. And chances are, you can get something just right for your needs that fits within your budget.

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Many photographers are revisiting wedding photography because it remains a good source of income during tough economic times. I just read a good article titled, How to Become a Top Wedding Photographer that contains some excellent tips for pushing your business up to the next level. It's a good read if wedding and portrait photography is part of your revenue stream for 2010.

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2010: Year of Software Decisions

As I look into my crystal ball for 2010, I predict we'll have new versions of many of the heavy-hitter software applications that we depend on for photo management and processing. How those new releases match up with the way we shoot will impact people on both sides of the equation.

Sometime during 2010, my guess is that we'll see Photoshop CS5 with updated versions of Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge. Lightroom 3 will probably come out of beta and on to the shelves. And Aperture 3 will most likely debut too. The big question is, how will those new applications match up to our evolving photography?

For example, I want one application that has Raw support for all of my cameras. I want to be able to catalog my video as well as my still pictures in the same environment. And I want integration with the other applications and services I use.

What's on your application wish list for 2010? If you have specifics that are important to you, please share them in the comments below.

Happy New Year! (It's going to be an interesting one...)

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"Wrinkles" often mean expressive texture. And the Nov. 09 Photo Assignment participants created a "tactile" gallery of images that you'll just want to touch.

The January 2010 assignment is "Slippery." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can submit photo assignment pictures up to 600 pixels in the widest direction.

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 next month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: January 2010." 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.

Photo by Amar Rameshbabu. You can read more about how Amar captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the Nov. 09 Gallery page.

Good luck with your January assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for November. It's a great collection of images.

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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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The better you understand your subject, the more likely you are to capture its essence. That's exactly what Paris Visone has done in her coverage of the punk rock band Protagonist.

"When touring with Protagonist, there was a lot of staying at random houses, taking advantage of every clean bathroom you can find, and a lot of different smells (some good, most bad)," writes Paris. "I have been shooting this band for 5 years now, but this is the first time I actually hit the road with them. They are somewhat used to the idea of the camera constantly in their faces, so that helps my cause. Plus, sometimes I help them carry equipment. So can they really complain? I like to consider myself the 6th member of the band. (Just don't tell them that.)"

Photo of the rock band Protagonist playing at Fest Live by Paris Visone. You can see the entire set of images on the Lowepro Flickr page.

Paris depended on her Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm 2.8 Lens, 35mm 2.0 Lens, Speedlite 430EX II, Mac laptop, various hard drives, and a Lowepro Fastpack 250 to capture these amazing images of the band.

"It's awesome having Paris with us on the road because she has a way of taking pictures that always captures the moment," said Brian, the guitar player. "She always knows just the right time to take a photo, and we sometimes relive entire days by looking at her images."

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