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Using a 50mm Lens for Sports?

Dribble Drive, originally uploaded by The Digital Story.

It's funny sometimes when I cover indoor sporting events... There are usually a couple guys standing around me with really big lenses trying to cover the action. And then there's me, often depending on my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens (or 85mm f/1.8) prime lens. The 50mm looks so, well, small.

But when you can get relatively close to the play, this affordable glass (usually less than $100 new) delivers big results. Here, it's mounted on a Canon T1i in Aperture Priority mode (with the 1.6x magnification on the cropped sensor, it's the equivalent to an 80mm lens). I set the f/stop to f/1.8 (wide open), the ISO to 1600, and shoot in burst mode. Because the walls were brightly painted in this gym, I also set exposure compensation to +1 so my subjects wouldn't be underexposed. You can see all of the metadata for this shot if you click on it to open in Flickr.

This image is right out of the T1i with no adjustments or cropping. It was uploaded to Flickr directly from my DSLR using the new Eye-Fi Pro X2. With this WiFi SDHC card, you can send pictures to your computer, social networking site, or even FTP server from your camera.

So, if you can get can get close to the action, the affordable 50mm can produce great results.

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"Ukuklele Musician" - Grab Shot 195

"This is an image of Hirai Dai from the 16th Annual Honolulu Festival Friendship Gala held in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Convention Center," writes Ryan Sakamoto. "He is Japan's premier ukuklele musician at 16 years old." More images of the Honolulu Festival can be found at

Photo by Ryan Sakamoto.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone or iPod Touch just to get a podcast. And there's more! Tap the Extras button for free passes and discounts and the current Grab Shot by our virtual camera club members. Each podcast episode has its own Extras button, too, that contains more goodies such as pro photo tips. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show.Download it today!

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Will the iPad Squish My Photos?

In my recent Macworld article, Show Off Your Photos on an iPad, I explained how the iPad is an excellent portable portfolio for photographers wanting to show off their images. But what exactly does the iPad do to those pictures when you upload them from a Mac? Does it squish your shots the way an iPhone does?

I have good news and bad.

The bad news is that the iPad does "optimize" your high resolution pictures during transfer to the device. This "optimization" has had a negative connotation in the past because most iPhone users felt it's too heavy-handed. The good news for iPad users is that the optimized resolution is a fairly generous 2304 x 1536, with a file size of 1 MB or more, depending on the detail in the photo. (And the reduction is only applied if the image is larger than 2304 x 1536 to begin with.) Given that the resolution on the iPad itself is 1024 x 768, you can zoom in on any shot to examine detail more closely. (Zoom by double-tapping on the image with one finger, or by pinching outward.)

If you use Aperture to sync images with the iPad, then you can control how big of an image gets transferred via the Preview setting in Aperture's preferences. Any preview size up to 2304 x 1536 should be honored by the iPad. Images larger than that will be optimized.

The bottom line is that even though the iPad will optimize large images, it is less aggressive than what we're used to with the iPhone.

Photo of children huddled around an iPad. This is actually a screenshot from the iPad showing how the image looks in the Photos application.

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Ready to get serious about mastering Aperture 3? I have 10 free training videos that you can watch right now. And these aren't throw-aways. They tackle important functions such as using the new Curves tool or building complex slideshows. In this podcast, I describe what's available and how to get it.

All of this goodness flows from my latest title: Aperture 3 Essential Training. Free videos and much, much more are there waiting for you.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (24 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Curve is the April 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is April 30, 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!

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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The addition of Curves adjustment to Aperture 3 gives us powerful tonal and color correction. In this 9:00 minute video that's part of my Aperture 3 Essential Training on, I show you how to get started with Curves in Aperture 3.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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Everyone needs water. And if you're working in the field on a photo shoot, you should have your supplies readily available. I've discovered a great water bottle for photographers who hike, camp, or who are always on the go: the GSI Infinity DukJug.

The basic specs for the DukJug are good for a container that sells for less than $9. The 1 liter capacity bottle weighs 6.6 ounces empty. It's constructed of BPA-free Polypropylene, has a quick-release cap, sip-it lid, and a very nice silicone grip. One Amazon reviewer complained that his water had a chemical odor to it. I have not had that experience at all. I washed the bottle when I first bought it, and the water has tasted great ever since.

GSI Infinity DukJug Water Bottle GSI DukJugs with gaffers tape wound around the recessed area, then the silicon grip reapplied. Click on images for larger view.

But what makes the DukJug different is that you can pull down the silicone grip, wrap gaffer's tape in the recessed area (or duct tape for non photographers who don't need a removable adhesive), and always have tape available for those 1001 situations that are hard to anticipate.

Applying Gaffers Tape

To set up your DukJug, just pull down the silicon grip, wind your gaffers tape evenly to keep the surface smooth, then reposition the grip. The tape adds very little weight to the bottle, but can be a huge lifesaver when you need to mend some fabric or hold a reflector in place. Not bad for less than $9.

Previously in Outdoor Gear for Photographers

Dependable Footwear for Photo Work in the Field

Day Tripping with the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW

Shelter on Location: REI Half Dome 2

String Monopods

"The Great Outdoors" - Digital Photography Podcast 218

Portable Camera Stability

Sunset Portraits

New Series on Outdoor Gear for Photographers

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iPad toting photographers should check out the Lowepro Classified 160 AW shoulder bag. It holds your DSLR, lenses, iPad, and Bluetooth keyboard, all in a discrete, compact, stylish all weather bag that goes anywhere. Perfect for urban shooters.

More iPad Articles

Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

Coolest iPad Apps for Photogs? Keynote and CameraBag

"iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219

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Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

Camera Apps for iPad

There's no camera on the iPad. But, thanks to these two 99 cent applications, there's a reasonable workaround.

The latest versions of Camera for iPad and CAMERA-A let you use your iPhone's camera to record images directly to your iPad. I've bought and tested both applications, and they work as advertised. Here's a little overview of each.

Camera for iPad (Updated for Version 1.1)

I downloaded the app from iTunes and installed on both my iPad and iPhone 3GS. Launch the app on both devices (make sure that Bluetooth is on or a WiFi network is available). The apps will look for the companion device and connect. Now point your iPhone camera anywhere, and tap the "Take a Photo" button on the iPad or on the iPhone. The picture is recorded and transferred to the iPad. This process takes less time when you're using WiFi communication.

Once the processing is finished, you'll have a 2048x1536 image in your Photos App on the iPad. That's more than enough resolution for a full screen image, and the pictures actually look pretty good.

Pros: Affordable, good picture quality, easy to use, has quality settings for picture, allows either Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, can take pictures from either iPhone or iPad. Cons: Virtually none.


You pay your 99 cents and download CAMERA-A from the App Store, then download its free companion software, CAMERA-B for your iPhone. Launch both apps and they will search for each other. After a few seconds, they connect, and you tap the camera icon on the iPad to take a picture. After the photo snaps, you're asked if you want to save it. Tap "Accept" and the image is instantly added to your Photos App on the iPad.

CAMERA-A has the advantage of saving instantly compared to the transfer time with Camera for iPad. CAMERA-A also has a zoom slider on the iPad that allows you to zoom in as much a 6x. You can zoom in and out on the fly to help you compose the shot. The result is a 1004x768 image that displays nicely full screen on the iPad.

Pros: Affordable, good picture quality, easy to use, fast transfer times, zoom slider. Cons: No shutter button on the iPhone, lower resolution images than with Camera for iPad.

The Bottom Line

Both Camera for iPad and CAMERA-A work as advertised and let you record images directly to the iPad. CAMERA-A transfers faster, but provides a smaller file. Camera for iPad maximizes the resolution of your iPhone camera, and has a more advanced feature set. Both apps allow you to save the images to your iPhone too.

Since the Version 1.1 update for Camera for iPad, it is my preferred app.

More iPad Articles

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

Coolest iPad Apps for Photogs? Keynote and CameraBag

"iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219

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In a recent article for Macworld Magazine titled How to move from iPhoto '09 to Aperture 3, I describe how to easily transition your images and work from an iPhoto library to Aperture 3. And because the two applications talk to each other so well, you even have the option of sharing the same library of images with both. If you use iPhoto now, I encourage you to read the tutorial.

iPhoto 09 and Aperture 3 Libraries after Import to Aperture

Comparison of iPhoto 09 and Aperture 3 libraries after import from iPhoto to Aperture. Click on image for larger view.

OK, But the Real Question Is...

As often the case, showing someone how to do something invariably brings up the question: "But why should I do this in the first place?" It's a good question.

The answer depends on what you need to do with your photographs after you click the shutter. If you're a casual shooter who captures less than a thousand images a year, and shares them primarily through email, Flickr, or the occasional slideshow, then iPhoto is a good application for you. It's easy to understand, has the basic tools your need, and it is included on your Mac when you buy it.

But if you consider yourself an amateur or pro photographer, iPhoto has some real shortcomings. One area that I find particularly frustrating is how it handles metadata. I can't add standard IPTC fields such as author, copyright, etc. And keywording is less than robust. I also think image editing in iPhoto is just too limited for most passionate photographers. Yes, you get the basic tools, but really, anything beyond simple luminance and color adjustments just isn't there. And finally, iPhoto lacks the "Project based system" of organization that's the heart of Aperture 3. Having these flexible containers to organize your work is important for people who take a lot of photos.

This is not a knock on iPhoto. It does what it does well. But if you're getting better at your photography and want to see how far you can take your work, Aperture 3 is a better tool. You have control over your metadata, your image editing, organization, and output. For many photographers, the tools inside of Aperture are all they need. And most shooters don't even leverage the totality of what's available.

Here's the thing though: you're going to need a current Mac with a good graphics card and 4 GBs or RAM, plus at least one external hard drive if you're going to have a good Aperture experience. I'm using a 17" 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro with 4 GBs of RAM, and doing just fine with Aperture 3. Don't even try this with an early generation Intel MacBook with 2 GBs or RAM. You'll hate what happens.

The bottom line is, if you're feeling the limitations of iPhoto, and you like Apple's approach to software, then I would consider the upgrade to Aperture 3. It will give you the tools you need to take your photography to the next level.

PS: You may wonder why I didn't include Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5, or other terrific software in this post. The main reason is, I'm talking about moving from iPhoto to the next level. In that case, Aperture is my recommendation. Other scenarios may lead to different applications.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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