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If you've ever wondered if Photoshop's Smart Objects are something you should be using, you might want to listen in on this conversation with Deke McClelland. I interviewed him at Photoshop World in Orlando, and wanted to hear why he thinks Smart Objects are worth learning.

Deke does a terrific job of providing an overview to this nondestructive function in Photoshop. It's a good listen if you want to get up to speed in less than 20 minutes.

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Not Quite Getting the Sigma DP2


I've been reading up on the just-announced Sigma DP2 compact camera, and I have to say, I don't quite get it. I do understand that it uses the same 14 megapixel (2,652×1,768×3 layers) direct image sensor as the SD14 and DP1, which is huge for a compact. But the lens is a prime only at 24.2mm (equal to 43mm on a full frame sensor) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

Now, I love prime lenses as much as the next guy, but this day in age, why would I spend hundreds of dollars on a camera with only a 43mm lens? And at f/2.8 to boot? If it's going to be a single-focal length only, doesn't it at least have to be fast?

I understand the potential for great image quality here with the large Foveon sensor and shooting in Raw mode. And quite possibly I'm just a little more frugal than the target market for this camera. So, if you have a compelling argument to spend big dollars on this machine, I'd like you to post a comment saying why.

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SanDisk announces their latest, the 16GB SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash card with transfer rates up to 45MB/s. The cards should run around $399 initially.

And I guess we're going to need 'em. Now with Raw capture at 12 MPs and well beyond, along with adding video to DSLRs, storage becomes important. But it's not just the memory card in your camera. If you're purchasing 16GB CF cards, then you better have a plan for expanding hard drive capacity on the post production side of the equation too.

My point being, as we buy new cameras, and purchase big cards to go with them, we need to think through the entire equation. My current workflow is set up for 12 MP Raw capture. If I decide to upgrade (Canon 5D Mark II), then my budget needs to include new camera, new CF cards, and more hard drives.

Hmmm. Suddenly my current 5D is not looking so bad.

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I'm Telling Ya, the 50mm Lens Is Back


Nikon just announced their newly redesigned AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G lens among all of the hubbub at Photokina. Nikon's 50mm combines great optical design with low light performance and their Silent Wave Motor, making this optic a top choice for existing light photography.

Along with the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and offerings by other manufacturers, I would say that the 50mm lens is back in business. Mounting these reengineered optics on new high-resolution sensors gives photographers access to exciting, gritty image-making, and at a reasonable cost. Personally, I love it!

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Super Bargain Canon Replacement Battery?


I was just talking to a photo buddy who had purchased four of these Ultralast UL-BP511 Canon BP-511 Equivalent Digital Camera Batteries for only $2.49 each. He said the performance was excellent, and that opinion seems to be backed-up by 54 customer reviews on Amazon.

The battery looks just like the Canon brand (that sells for about $50 US), and has good specs. Could be a great deal. The only catch seems to be that it's only available in the US.

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photoGPS Hot Shoe Accessory


Put that empty hot shoe to work with the just-announced Jobo photoGPS, a $159 Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver that is triggered by the hot shoe contact on your camera. The "device allows automatic geo-tagging by capturing raw GPS data and time which enables new and more efficient ways to search, visualize, and share photo collections," reports PCPhoto.

Jobo is launching the product with Windows software to sync data with your images, but a Mac OS X version is promised by the end of the year. If it turns out to be reasonably easy to use, this could be a good geo-tagging solution all levels of photographers. It might even be a nice solution for my Canon G9.

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Rob Galbraith has just posted an excellent preview for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. "Canon has announced the EOS 5D Mark II, an update of the oldest camera in its digital SLR lineup and one that the company promises will deliver the best image quality and lowest noise of any EOS model to date," reports Galbraith. "Headlining the 5D Mark II is a 21.03 million image pixel full-frame CMOS sensor that is derived from the sensor in the EOS-1Ds Mark III, but with several improvements meant to improve shadow rendering and noise levels at all ISO settings."

"The refined sensor is also at the heart of Canon's first foray into digital SLR video: the 5D Mark II can record clips at 1920 x 1080 pixel (1080p) resolution, with sound (captured via either a built-in mono mic or through an external mic connected to the camera's stereo mic jack)."

I was excited when Nikon announced the D90 with movie mode. Canon had topped Nikon here with full 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30fps. And they included an external mic jack. Yes!

The new Canon 5D should ship before the end of November for $2,699 US.

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Working Fast - The 1 Hour Portrait


Sometimes you have to work fast. Like "passport photo" fast.

That was the case today when a PR professional needed a quick head shot. Neither one of us had much time, so i noted just how long it took to deliver a gallery of images from the moment we met to the moment I sent her the URL. The verdict: less than 90 minutes.

Start with the shoot itself. The sun was nice this afternoon, so we walked outside with a Canon 5D and the 70-200mm f/4 L lens. No extra lighting, or even reflectors were used. I positioned her so the sun provided rim lighting on her hair and used the spot meter to determine the exposure for her face.

Click, click, click.

Then back to the computer to download the images to Aperture. I did a quick sort and narrowed the selects to a gallery of 15 images. I adjusted two of the shots, then used lift and stamp to apply those adjustments to the images that were similar. I cropped each one individually.

The last step was uploading the selects to MobileMe via Aperture to create the online gallery. I included the "download" option so the client could grab a high resolution version of the shot she like best. I sent her an email with the url and password, then moved on to the next item on my ToDo list.

These are the times when knowing how you like to shoot, then having an agile post production workflow, really pay off.

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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iMedia Browser - Find Your Stuff


Regardless of which photo management software you're committed to -- Aperture, Lightroom, iPhoto, or your Pictures folder -- Karelia iMedia Browser will let you quickly look into any of those libraries. And if you want, drag something out. Oh, and if that wasn't cool enough, the download is free.

iMedia Browser has the handsome looks of Apple's Media Browser, and it runs wickedly fast. You can leave it running on the Dock, so you can take a peek inside any of your photo libraries on the fly, and if needed, drag out a shot. iMedia Browser also has a search field that has the same zippy performance of searching in iTunes. You can also use iMedia Browser to look for music, video, and bookmarks.

iMedia Browser won't acknowledge images that are out loose on drives or your computer. (This may be a good thing, organizationally speaking.) They have to be filed in the Pictures folder or contained in one of the above-mentioned applications. It will, however, find libraries on external drives. So, if you have an Aperture library on your laptop and another on a connected drive, iMedia Browser will show you both.

As you may have figured out by now, this application is for Mac users, running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5. Available in English, Danish, French, German, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese. It is one of the most handy utilities I've run across in a while.

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One of my most enjoyable encounters from Beijing was with Mine Kasapoglu, a photographer who resides in İstanbul, Turkey where she works as a freelance shooter. Mine started covering Olympics in 2002 at Salt Lake City, and has been working them ever since.

I just published a podcast interview with Mine, where she talks about her early encounters with the Mac platform, her introduction to Aperture at the Torino Olympics, and about her approach for covering the Beijing event. She is just a delight, and i think you'll enjoy what she has to say.

Photo of Mine by Mustafa Yalcin.

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