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Sony Announces 300X Compact Flash Cards


There was a day when I would have been shocked to see Compact Flash cards with Sony branding on them. But I guess the A-100 DSLR changed all of that. Photography Blog is reporting that Sony has announced a new trio of high speed CF cards that can transfer data up to 45MBs per second. According to Sony Europe's press release:

"The high speed CompactFlash 300x cards allow UDMA-enabled D-SLR digital camera users to record more frames per second in continuous advance shooting mode and to transfer their images to the PC very rapidly to make room for new photographic projects. An 8GB CompactFlash card can hold up to 2,000 JPEG photos taken in 12 Megapixel resolution in the ‘Standard’ image setting, or up to 1,363 photos in ‘Fine’ mode. Even if both RAW and JPEG image data are recorded, the 8GB card offers enough space for more than 313 digital photos."

The CF cards will be available in October and come in 2, 4, and 8 GB flavors. What next? Before you know it you'll be able to run Windows natively on a Mac...

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Interviews from Photoshop World


At the recent Photoshop World in Las Vegas, I started a new series of interviews for O'Reilly Media where I sit down with imaging experts and ask them about their craft. These chats were recorded and are now avaiable, unedited, on O'Reilly's Digital Media site.

The first three interviews -- Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland, and Deke McClelland -- are posted now on the Inside Digital Media podcast page. More interviews will go live weekly. Stay tuned!

Photo of Derrick Story interviewing Deke McClelland (right) at Photoshop World 07 in Las Vegas.

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Press releases went out last night for the latest version of Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows users. I've had a peek at this application, and it looks terrific. Here's what Adobe is saying about PSE 6:

"New Photomerge technology helps solve the challenge of taking the perfect group photo by combining the best facial expressions and body language from a series of shots to create a single new cohesive group shot. The new Quick Selection Tool reduces a once time-consuming select-and-adjust task to a single click. Addressing all levels - beginner to expert - there is an opportunity to select one of three edit modes, each geared toward a different experience level. A new Guided Edit mode helps walk users through the steps of improving a photo."

"Photoshop Elements 6 streamlines editing with clean, uncluttered screens that bring focus to the photo. New tabs provide simple access to the many capabilities of the program. Additional enhancements include an improved conversion tool that dramatically converts color images into elegant, nuanced black-and-whites. The streamlined Organizer speeds performance and eases importing, tagging and retrieving."

The press release also stressed that a Mac version is on the way stating: "Currently, our Photoshop Elements Windows and Mac versions are on different product development tracks. Photoshop Elements for the Mac customers continue to be very important to us and we want to bring them the best solutions possible for their platform. A Mac version of Photoshop Elements is expected in early 2008.  We will come back to you to provide you with more detail closer to the Mac announcement." So Mac users, sit tight for the time being...

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances. (I have a workshop coming up on Oct. 6 in Santa Rosa.)

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The Kingston DataTraveler Reader is about the size of a Bic lighter, but is a lot more fun. With its USB 2.0 connector, it can quickly transfer data from SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMCplus cards in the blink of an eye. With the appropriate adapters, the DataTraveler can also handle miniSD, microSD, RS-MMC, MMCmobile, and MMCmicro.

I've been using the DataTraveler to transfer images from SanDisk 4GB SDHC cards. It became my "go to" card reader when I discovered that my previous reader couldn't handle the new SDHC format.

When you insert the SD card into the DataTraveler, then plug it into a USB port, two drive icons appear on the desktop. One is for the memory card and the other is 2 GBs of free memory available on the reader itself. This extra memory is a great place to back up your pictures once you've transferred them to your computer. You can also store other data on the card such as documents and music. When you want to eject the reader, be sure to remove both drive icons before pulling the reader from the USB port.

The DataTraveler also includes a green LED to show operational status and a short lanyard so the device can be used as a key ring. The 2GB model sells for about $42 US on Amazon. It's fast, compact, and accepts the latest memory cards, including SDHC -- and the 2GBs of onboard memory is a real bonus.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.

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Sony A-700 DSLR: A Serious Contender


Sony's new DSLR A-700 is a high performance capture device capable of competing with Canon's new 40D and Nikon's D300. At $1,499 US (including an 18-70mm zoom), this solid body features a 12.24 MP Sony Exmor CMOS sensor, a Bionz image processor that screens out noise before Raw data conversion, and sensor-based image stabilization that works with any lens mounted on the camera.

The A-700 can capture at 5 fps, includes a 3" LCD, offers an accessory vertical grip, and features a nice array of system lenses. There's an in-depth review of the Sony A-700 on PhotoReview. Serious photographers who haven't committed to another system should consider this body among the other elite contenders. Others looking for a body with sensor-based stabilization should also look closely at the A-700. Based on initial reports, Sony has done a great job here.

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Last week I posted a heads up about Rick Smolan's America at Home Project. The site is now live and they are accepting images until Sept. 23, 2007. This is a great opportunity for you to participate in this high profile photo project.

Rick asked me to write 10 of my favorite photo tips to make available on the A@H site. They're posted now, and you can view them online or download the PDF. The 10 tips are:

  1. Fill Flash for Outdoor Portraits
  2. Warm Up with White Balance
  3. Use Your Sunglasses as a Polarizer
  4. Capture at Your Camera's Highest Resolution
  5. Explore Your Camera's Scene Modes
  6. Get Close then Closer
  7. Go Low for Kids and Pets
  8. Get in the Picture with Your Self Timer
  9. Use Your Car Windshield Cover as a Reflector
  10. Shower Cap Inclement Weather Protector

Just visit the America at Home site and click on Pro Photo Tips for all the details. While you're there, take a moment to learn more about the project. I hope you have a chance to submit a photo.

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Jason Moore publishes regular interviews with photographer bloggers and had sent me a list of interesting questions for his P&P Blogger Profile. He asked standard questions such as "Why do you blog?" but he also wandered off the beaten path with inquires about inspiration, creativity, tools, and even personal stuff under the heading of "From Inside the Actors Studio."

My favorite exchange of the interview was, "What advice do you have for a novice creative professional/photographer?" with my answer being, "Get a photo buddy and/or become part of a photography community. If you have someone to go shooting with, and who will look critically at your photos, you will shoot more and improve faster. As for community, the nickname for The Digital Story is “your virtual camera club.” It’s a place for photographers to come together, learn new techniques, show off their pictures, and get feedback on their work. Being part of a community helps us improve as artists and craftsmen."

If you want to know a little more about the man behind the TDS blog, you might enjoy this interview of me. Read at your own risk.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.

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Rick Smolan and the team that produced A Day in the Life of America: America 24/7, is tackling their biggest challenge to date: "America at Home."

I was down at Rick's office recently to learn about this endeavor. It's really quite exciting, and you can become a part of it. Basically, it works like this:

The entire American population is being invited the week of September 17th-23rd to participate by taking digital photographs of what "Home" means to them, and then submitting them to The end result will be a mixture of photos from the public and the 100 professionals who will also be capturing images of what defines the home. The photos will then go into a coffee table book titled, "America at Home" to be released in March of 2008. When the book is released, buyers will have the option of personalizing it by putting their own family pictures on the photo jacket.

If you have a good idea for an entry, start making plans now for your shoot the week of September 17. I think it would be very exciting to have your image included in this book. I will cover this project more once it gets underway.

For more information, you can also read the official press release.

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You can create a variety of effects in iPhoto 7 (part of iLife '08) that rival what you can do in more advanced applications such as Photoshop CS3. One of these effects, "Antique," is a good one to consider for bridal portraits and family group shots. And best of all, it's easy to apply.

First duplicate your color image in iPhoto (Photos > Duplicate). Then click on the "Edit" icon at the bottom of the window (it's the pencil) to put you in edit mode. Once there, click on the "Effects" icon to open its palette, the choose "Antique." iPhoto will apply the effect to your image. You can increase or decrease its impact by clicking to the right or left of the number that appears in the effect icon. I usually settle for a setting of 3 or 4.

You're not finished yet. Now click on the "Adjust" icon to open its palette. Many iPhoto users don't realize that you can continue to play with the Antique effect by moving the Temperature and Tint sliders until you get the perfect look you're seeking. You may also want to make some final exposure adjustments while you have the palette open.

One final tip... you can sometimes smooth out skin blemishes by playing with the "Reduce Noise" slider. Don't overdo it, but a little noise reduction can enhance the the subject's appearance. Then click Done. You've now created a stunning Antique effect without ever leaving iPhoto.

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Bob Atkins has just published a helpful review of the Canon 40D. He tackles one of the biggest questions with this camera: is this a worthy upgrade for 20D and 30D owners?

"In just about every respect the EOS 40D technically outperforms the EOS 30D," says Atkins, "and so I think it is a worthwhile upgrade for those who can afford to switch and who can use the new features. I didn't feel that way about the 30D, which was a good camera but for me didn't offer enough new features to persuade me to trade in my 20D and upgrade."

As Atkins begins to really dig into the specifications of the 40D, you realize that this is really a new camera under the hood with more robust image processing capabilities.

"It's basically a new camera with a new sensor," says Atkins, "a new 14-bit processing engine, a new AF system and new features such as Live View, Highlight Priority and High ISO noise reduction as well as improved ergonomics with the enhanced 3" LCD. Though it looks much like the 20D/30D it seems to have a more "pro" feel--though I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the quieter and faster shutter operation that simply makes it sound better!"

When I look at the 40D, I first think performance. For $1,299 US, you get a camera that fires at 6.5 fps with a buffer that can hold 17 Raw files per burst. That means you can shoot action photography in Raw. Add to this the AF system with 9 cross type sensors, the DIGIC 3 processor, and 14-bit A/D conversion, and you have machine capable of handling just about any assignment.

The Bob Atkins review also does a good job of covering the 40D's image noise performance, auto-focusing ability, and Live View (on that new 3" LCD with broader color gamut). Both the Canon 40D and the Atkins review of it are worth a look.

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