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Canon Rebel 400D Announced

Canon Rebel 400D

Canon announced the Rebel 400D today along with two new lenses (50mm f-1.2 and 70-200mm IS). The new Rebel features a bigger 2.5" LCD, sensor dust management system, and a new CMOS 10.2 MP sensor.

Canon has also lowered the price $100 from the previous Rebel, which means you can get the 400D body for $799 USD. This is a tempting package for those with the original 6MP Rebel, and I bet even current Rebel 350D users will give this new model a close look. The larger LCD and image sensor puts this camera on par with many of Canon's more expensive offerings. Combined with the fact that existing 350D accessories and battery work with the new model, the upgrade path is quite smooth.

We'll keep an eye on availability...

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Olympus SP-510 UZ Debuts at Photokina

Olympus SP-510uz

This is a camera to keep an eye on. Olympus is unveiling the SP-510 UZ at Photokina. It's specs are impressive: 7.1 million pixels, 10x optical zoom, 2.5" LCD, ISO 50-1600 at 7.1 megapixels, ISO 2500/4000 at 3 megapixels resolution, and... RAW mode.

In a recent post, Are "Prosumer" Cameras on the Way Out?, I wonder if full-featured compact cameras with Raw capability are becoming a thing of the past. Apparently, Olympus doesn't think so. This camera has so much: spot metering, advanced white balance adjustment, 3 frames per second, and f-2.4 maximum aperture. The only missing feature is its lack of a hot shoe. Other than that, it appears to be a dream packed into 325 gram package.

I can't wait to see what the first wave of reviews have to say.

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Model Gallery Now Online

Iceland Model

I've just posted a gallery of model shots from the Iceland shoot that Maggie Hallahan and I discussed in podcast 45. This gallery covers three of the locations we visited, including the steam shots we recorded at 10pm as the final sequence of the day.

I used Adobe Lightroom to process the images and built the gallery using its Web module. I recorded most of the images with a 70-300mm Canon USM IS zoom lens mounted on a Canon 5D body. For the steam series, I attached the camera on a tripod and set the camera to 1/30th of a second at f-5.6, ISO 100.

As with the wedding couple series that I published earlier, I made sure I got model releases for all of the subjects featured in these galleries.

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Iceland Wedding

Imagine as you arrive to the chapel on your wedding day, you're greeted by a professional photographer whom you've never seen before and he says he'll shoot your ceremony for free. All you have to do is sign a model release. Oh, and he doesn't speak your native language.

This is just one of the amazing events that happened in Iceland. In the story, The Couple from Sweden, I describe the series of events that led to my photographing one of the sweetest weddings I've ever encountered. I've also posted the gallery on my Story Photography site.

Unlike the commercial weddings that I normally shoot, I captured this one existing light with no flash. I had complete artistic freedom. I then processed the images in Adobe Lightroom, and used its Web module to generate the gallery pages. From start to finish, this was a very satisfying self-assignment.

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Nikon D80 for Serious Enthusiasts

Nikon D80

The new Nikon D80 is a 10.2 megapixel sophisticated DSLR designed for serious enthusiasts who want great images but don't have the budget for a high-end Nikon.

The specs are impressive: new 12-bit image processing engine, 2.5" LCD, 0.18 sec. start-up with fast 80ms shutter response, three metering modes including spot, 3 frames per second, built-in flash with wireless commander, and bright 0.94x optical glass viewfinder. The body should retail for $999, or get the kit for $1,299 that includes the new 18-135mm DX Zoom Nikkor lens. Personally, I think the kit sounds like a better deal.

This camera is clearly a cut about the D50 and D70. It has more resolution, better image processing, and lots of new features. It's not inexpensive by any means. $1,300 for body and lens is a sizable investment for most enthusiasts. But I think Nikon had done their homework here and put together a camera that will satisfy this demanding niche. I'll report more once the test results begin to surface. The camera should be available sometime in September.

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The Retouch tool in iPhoto 6 has more capability than most people realize. The default mode is a frustratingly blunt cross hairs that provides very little control. You can, however, enable an advanced mode that lets you set the diameter of the brush for more precise retouching.

First launch iPhoto 6, choose a picture and enter Edit mode by clicking on the Edit button in the row of buttons beneath the thumbnails. Click on the Retouch tool and your mouse pointer will become the normal cross hairs that we're accustomed to with Retouch.

To enable the advanced options, press the "Caps Lock - CTRL - 9" keys all at the same time. You won't notice any difference at first, but you have activated the advanced mode. Now press the Tab key, and your cursor will change from a cross hairs to the brush diameter indicator as show in the illustration above. You can make the diameter of the brush bigger by pressing the right bracket key ] and smaller by using the left bracket key [.

You can also control the density of the retouching by holding down the SHIFT key and using the right and left curly braces { }. SHIFT - Right Brace } increases the density of the retouch and SHIFT - Left Brace { decreases the density.

If you press the Tab key again, you go to Lighten mode. This tool is good for lightening areas of the image that have a little too much density. Again, you can control the diameter of the brush via the left and right bracket keys. Press the Tab button again and you return to the normal cross hairs mouse pointer.

The advanced options stay on as long as iPhoto is open. If you relaunch the application, then you'll need to enable them again via the "Caps Lock - CTRL - 9" keys. You can read more about these tools in Rob Griffiths excellent Macworld article, Use advanced iPhoto 6 edit tools.

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Sony's new GPS-CS1 is compact device (about 55 g) that records your GPS coordinates every 15 seconds while in the field. Then, when you return home, you can synchronize this information with your picture metadata and know the approximate location of every image you captured.

The $150 USD device works with Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S500, S600, S45, W30, W40, W50, W70, W100, H2, H5, T30 and Sony α (alpha) DSLR-A100 cameras using Windows software. It's not clear yet if it can be used for other cameras via a workaround. We'll have to wait until it actually ships to find out.

In the meantime, this is probably the first of many such devices we'll see that enable us to record satellite data and synch it with our image metadata.

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Returning Home from Iceland

Boy Riding Horse

As I write this, we're packing up the Epson R2400 printers here in the workroom and getting ready to leave Nesbud for our return to Reykjavik. We're prepared for tonight's presentation at the Apple Store in Iceland's capital. We have a stack of amazing 13" x 19" prints that we worked on all day yesterday, in addition to a Lightroom-generated slideshow. You can get a glimpse at some of the images by visiting Adventure Gallery 3, which features the work of over a dozen of the photographers working here in Iceland.

As you look at the work, keep in mind that the photographers used only the Develop module in Lightroom for their image editing. The only time people jumped over to Photoshop was when there was image sensor dust that had to be removed with the cloning tool. As of now, there isn't that function in Lightroom.

Saturday morning we head back home. Life will return to normal here on The Digital Story. I appreciate your joining me in Iceland for this week's dventure.

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Location Model Shoot in Iceland

Model in Iceland

On Wednesday I was able to work with Maggie Hallahan, a commercial photographer based in San Francisco. She had made arrangements with Eskimo, an Iceland agency, to have five models come up to Nesbud for a shoot. Maggie had borrowed designer sweaters made here locally for the women to wear while we photographed them in the environment.

One of the things I enjoyed about this shoot was having photographers on hand to hold reflectors and assist with the models. We shot existing light only, using reflectors for fill light or shading as necessary. Because of the long days here, we started shooting at 4pm and didn't put away our cameras until 11pm.

I used the ExpoDisc to set my white balance in the changing light. That way I didn't have to worry about color correction in post processing, which is a big deal when working such long hours.

The shoot went well, and I ended up with over 400 images. That's a lot of data when you're talking about 12 megapixel Raw files.

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Looking Around

Sheep in Iceland

I was hiking in the Nesbud countryside yesterday. The trails are much different than those in California. Here, it isn't so much a trail as it is a thin line of trampled grass with the occasional maker staked into the ground. As such, I often discovered that I had strayed, and would have to find a marker to get back on track.

The Iceland sheep and horses are popular subjects. They have amazing hair that moves in the breeze, and the backdrop is almost always interesting. Since I'm the photo editor as well as photographer on this trip. I spend lots of time looking at images by my peers. Some amazing stuff for sure, and well beyond shots of the local livestock -- although some of the horse images are among the best I've seen.

I've just posted the second Adventure Web Gallery with images by famous photographers such as John Isaac and Michael Reichmann. Sometimes, when we're traveling in small groups, I feel like the sheep I've posted here -- standing on the hillside, looking around, ready to dash off at a moment's notice.

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