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Nikon P5100 Compared to Canon G9


Nikon has released the Coolpix P5100 just six months after the P5000 received positive reviews. Essentially, this is Nikon's high-end compact for serious photographers who want a capable point and shoot to augment their DSLR.

Many of its specs will look familiar to those of you who have been eyeing Canon's PowerShot G9: 12 Megapixels on a 1/1.8 CCD, optical image stabilization, 3.5X zoom, SDHC card compatibility, face detection, 2.5" LCD monitor, and all the settings any serious photographer would want. I think the P5100 is a smarter looking camera than its predecessor, going more with the matt black look instead of the mix of chrome and black.

Invariably, though, we all want to see how it stacks up to the Canon PowerShot G9. I've just returned from two weeks in the Caribbean using the G9 as one of my cameras, and it performed admirably. But the things I liked about it are missing from Nikon's P5100--notably the longer 6X optical zoom lens and RAW mode. Plus with the Canon you get a 3" LCD vs. the P5100's 2.5 monitor.

So when DPReview published their review of the Nikon P5100, I was eager to see if their thoughts were similar to mine. In short, yes, they were.

One of Richard Butler and Simon Joinson's primary complaints with the P5100 is that Nikon didn't really improve its handling speed. This is something they noted about the G9 too, although I have been fairly happy with its start-up and shutter lag performance. What the G9 doesn't have, as well as the P5100, is any sort of useful burst mode compared to a DSLR.

But where things really get interesting is the comparison of images shot at the lowest ISOs and ISO 400. My eyes see a clear difference with the G9 images looking hands down better. The reviewers seem to soften their comments here, but the pictures really tell the story.

Overall, even if you're a Nikon shooter, I think you should consider the Canon G9 as your high end compact. The Canon does cost $100 more, but that's about the only mark against it for a "pro point and shoot." For me, this is one of those many instances where you have to ignore brand and go with the better camera.

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Water Play in Costa Rica


After a while, the rain just becomes part of the landscape. I don't really think about it. I'm dressed for it. And I know from previous experience that the Canon 5D with the 24-105mm f-4 lens with front filter and lens hood attached is a fairly water-resistant rig.

So, wearing Tevas, swimsuit trunks, and an unnatural fiber shirt, I ventured out into the Port Limon area of Costa Rica to see what I could find. Ironically, while on a small boat in the Tortuguero Canals, I came across this young man swinging on a rope and splashing while it rained.

By moving the ISO up to 640, I was able to get enough shutter speed (1/180th) to freeze the water. The aperture was f-5.6. In fact, I never was able to move the ISO down during the entire course of the day. Seemed like I was always on a boat or hanging off a rustic train that jiggled and rattled its way through countryside and small villages.

I'm sailing home now as I write this. Cuba is off the starboard side of the ship. I really could go for a few more days... rain and all.

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Photographing the Panama Canal


We approached the first of three locks just as the sun was rising Friday morning. I was looking forward to getting a close-up view of passing through the Panama Canal, but I have to say, it was more exciting than I had anticipated.

The first photo here shows how it looks from the bow of the Volendam as we entered the lock. There are many preparations that lead up to this moment. The most visual are the interactions with the locomotion helpers on both sides of the ship that guide us through the channel.

We only have a couple feet of spare room on each side of the ship. So the helpers have to be very skilled to keep the Volendam clear of the lock walls so they don't scrape the sides of the vessel. The second photo shows our exit from the final lock and you can clearly see how little spare room there is.


I shot with the Canon 5D and the 24-105mm L zoom. I worked the bow (front of the ship) for quite a while because I wanted to capture images of the locks opening up. I then went to the third deck where I could walk the perimeter of the ship to capture the details of our transfer.

It cost the Volendam $180,000 to pass through the Panama Canal. But after spending the entire morning watching and learning about the process, I have to say that this is a highly technical endeavor requiring lots of man power and expensive equipment.

I captured about 300 images, and I have 40 that I really like. What an experience.

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Sometimes You Just Need a Good Place


On Wednesday we tied up at Willemstad, Curacao -- sometimes called Pearl of the Caribbean or Heart of the World. I got off the cruise ship and boarded a tender that motored 20 minutes along the coast to our diving destination. We moored, then jumped off the back of the boat into some of the most beautiful underwater scenery I've ever seen.

The first thing I noticed was that picture taking was so much easier than it had been any other day of the trip. Spending the next 2 hours photographing colorful fish, coral, eel, and even squid (as shown here) reminded me that great location does make a difference.


A good photographer should be able to make a good image anywhere. But take that same good photographer and put him or her somewhere stunning, and you'll probably get two dozen great images. Sometimes you just need a good place to shoot.

I teach all day today for the Geek Cruise folks, then next stop is the Panama Canal.

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Light is More Fickle Underwater


Shooting underwater presents different challenges than topside. We docked in Oranjestad, Aruba. Then a handful of us caught a bus over to a little marina where we hopped on a rustic tender to De Palm Island. For the next four hours we could snorkel, relax in the white sand, and partake in the occasional Pina Colada.

I was shooting with my Canon SD700 IS in its underwater housing. At first I was concerned about visibility because the water was churning. Sure enough, once beneath the surface, there wasn't the clarity I had hoped for. But I noticed that when I positioned myself so the sun was over my shoulder, the shots were much cleaner than from other angles.

Now you may be thinking this is simple, right? Well, it's a whole different world underwater. And it was a fun problem finding the fish, then trying to get positioned to fire off a shot before they darted way.


Even when I was in the right position, the movement of the water would produce a variety of effects. Sometimes in my favor, sometimes not. And finally, there was the task of composing the image on the LCD with all of those reflections.

I think dealing with the fickleness of light underwater makes snorkel photography fun. There are so many variables to contend with. And when I did get a good image, it was ever bit as satisfying as a beautiful landscape shot topside.

Photos by Derrick Story with a Canon SD700IS using the Underwater Scene Mode in a waterproof housing.

BTW: Can anyone identify this fish? If so, please leave a comment. They were very big, a couple feet easily, and easy going.

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iPhoto 08 as an Aperture Plug-in


I taught both iPhoto 08 and Aperture classes today on the Geek Cruise, and one of the key points that resonated with students was how beautifully iPhoto can serve as a deluxe plug-in for Aperture.

The basic workflow goes something like this: Use Aperture as your main database for uploading, organizing, rating, keywording, and editing your pictures. In its Preferences pane, turn on previews and sharing with other applications. Then, when you want to use iPhoto's cool slideshow function, make greeting cards, create calendars, publish web galleries -- access your Aperture images using the File > Show Aperture Library command. You'll see a pop-up dialog box as illustrated here. Drag the photos you want into iPhoto (it will use the previews you generated in Aperture, so the better the previews, the more options you have in iPhoto.)

In this manner, iPhoto becomes a fairly extravagant plug-in for Aperture. This can be especially nice for Raw shooters who want Aperture's horsepower but the output goodies in iPhoto.

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Bahamas After the Storm


I walked into a shop to buy a hat and asked the shopkeeper how her morning was. She said, "Ah, OK, still recovering from the storm." Our ship had missed the bad weather and we were enjoying a nice day on the beach. The locals weren't as lucky.

I paid cash for the hat and wished her a speedy recovery at home. As I strolled the beach after my swim, I came upon this scene of a couple of tourists renting a little sailboat for the afternoon. I framed the shot with the Holland America ship in the distance to better tell the story of my first afternoon in the Caribbean.

Photo by Derrick Story during the MacMania 7 Geek Cruise - Canon G9, Raw, ISO 80, 1/1250 at f-4.5, Auto White Balance.

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Keep Your Printer Software Updated

How long has it been since you've checked for updates for your printer? I've noticed that the major printer manufacturers (Epson, HP, Canon) have been doing a pretty good job of posting revisions for both firmware and new ICC profiles for paper. What fun!

I just finished downloading a new firmware update for the Canon IPF5000, and even better, new printer profiles, created with X-Rite's ProfileMaker 5 for 10 different Canon papers.


Chances are you're not using this printer, but my point is that new stuff is released all the time for older printers. And this becomes even more important if you're contemplating an OS upgrade (Vista or Leopard). Typically, one of the biggest frustrations after an OS upgrade is a printing glitch. So a little planning can potentially save you a lot of headache.

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"Photos shouldn't be trapped in your camera," say the creators of Eye-Fi, a wireless memory card that enables you to upload images from your camera to a computer or one of its online partners.

This is most likely one of those stop-gap technologies, like the CD burner, that's useful until camera manufacturers get their wireless acts together and provide W-Fi as a standard feature. The good news is with the Eye-Fi, however, that even if your don't use its wireless capability, you still have a 2 GB memory card.

Eye-Fi is for Jpeg shooters, but I suspect that if you shoot Raw+Jpeg, you can have your Raw plus wireless too. in addition to sending images to your Mac or PC, you can upload to Kodak Gallery, Wal Mart, Shutterfly, Snapfish, PhotoBucket, FaceBook, WebShots, Picasa, SmugMug, Flickr, Fotki, TypePad, Vox, DotPhoto, PhanFare, Sharpcast, and Gallery.

The wireless range of the Eye-Fi is about 45 feet indoors, and twice that outside. It's compatible with 802.11g, 802.11b, and even 802.11n networks. It has decent security too: Static WEP 40/104/128, WPA-PSK, and WPA2-PSK.

You can purchase Eye-Fi on for $99.99

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So you don't have time to visit a store for the latest offerings from Pentax? If you're in New York City, meet the BobCar. BobCars are three-wheeled, energy efficient, mini-vehicles that engage consumers right on the street. These mobile showrooms feature the latest Pentax digital SLR and compact digital cameras offering hands-on demonstrations, literature, and special incentives. Two Pentax BobCars are scooting around a 15 mile radius in New York City from mid-October until the end of December.

My experience with Pentax cameras has been positive over the years, especially with their DSLRs and water-resistant compacts. So I'm happy to see them trying something innovative to get the word out about their products. If you are hanging out in NYC at all between now and the New Year, here's the BobCar Schedule.

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