Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adobe Releases Photoshop Lightroom 3 BETA v2

Adobe has provided the 2nd public Beta of Photoshop Lightroom 3 application for immediate download from its Adobe Labs site. Lightroom 3 will be based around a new processing engine and the second iteration adds luminance noise reduction to the color noise reduction options that appeared in the initial beta. The latest beta also supports tethered shooting for a number of Nikon and Canon DSLRs, enables importing and management of video files and improves overall functioning of the software.

I really have enjoyed working with the initial Beta release and just downloaded version 2.  The full Beta 2 release can be downloaded directly from the Adobe Labs site and includes the latest press release and version information.

Adobe Announces Creative Suite 5

Adobe has announced Creative Suite 5, and will provide additional detail on Monday April 12th.  Adobe has also created a teaser website.  I can't wait to see what they've added to an already 'over-the-top' product.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Upcoming Photomark Photography Classes In Phoenix, AZ

Photomark is one of two large camera stores left in the Phoenix Metro area. While there are still a few small retailers, Photomark and Tempe Camera are our last bastions of hope to get our hands physically on advanced amateur and professional photography equipment. I’ve purchased equipment from both, and both are highly recommended if living or visiting the Valley of the Sun Stroke. Photomark happens to also host regular photography related classes.

Upcoming Photomark Classes

Classes are held in their Lightning showroom. In an effort to cover specialized, and more advanced topics Photomark will now be offering some classes for a $30 fee, class size limited RSVP. 602-244-1133

March 27
no fee
Using Camera Flash
When and why is it important to use your built in or speedlite flash

April 3
RSVP $30.00
Exploring Portraits-Beyond on Camera Flash
This class is for the photographer who is ready to take the next step, and explore studio strobe lighting. This is a hands-on class: bring your camera,and a model if you like.

New Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM Lens On Back Order

Back in January Canon announced the launch of the new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto zoom lens. This is the successor to the immensely popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, offering improved performance in every area. According to the Canon press release the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM delivers optical excellence in the most challenging situations. As well as a revamp of the internal optical system, the lens has also been structurally re-developed as a direct result of user feedback, making it as robust and reliable as it is optically advanced.

The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features a re-designed optical system, consisting of 23 elements in 19 groups to deliver truly impressive results. A high-speed Auto Focus (AF) system perfectly matches the abilities of the recently-launched EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS 7D Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras. The new model also features a ring-type USM AF motor, which combines with a new high-speed CPU and an optimized AF algorithm to make auto focusing both faster and quieter. As well as an update to the internal construction, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features an enhanced external appearance to improve lens operation. The thickness of protruding exterior parts and switches has been significantly reduced, guarding against accidental switching and creating an improved overall look. The rubber focusing grip has also been redesigned and widened; with finely-patterned grooves making it easier to manually focus, and it is fully weatherproof.

Unfortunately according to Canon, it is also now on back-order due to higher than expected demand. So the $2500 burning a hole in your pocket will have to sit there for a while, unless you want to pre-order.

Bye Bye Sony, Bye Bye!

Back in the days of “BD” Before Digital, I was a Minolta SLR film shooter. When Sony purchased the Minolta photography division and released the Alpha 100 DLSR I jumped on board. I’ve been using the A100 ever since and it has been an affordable and adequate workhorse for me ever since. However, it is now getting ‘long-in-the-tooth’ as is my older Minolta glass. The biggest drawback to the A100 is noise. Using any ISO over 400 is just not feasible due to the amount and quality of the noise produced. My other requirement is capture speed, and for my youth sports shooting the 3 fps rate just isn’t cutting it anymore, especially with the slower focusing Minolta 70-210mm F4 lens. I’ve been ready to upgrade for some time now, and since timing is everything, I can’t help but laugh and cringe when Sony decided to discontinue their excellent Alpha 700 DLSR right around the time I was prepared to purchase a new DSLR. They are now very hard to find, and to be honest I’m not sure I want one anymore.

With the recent release of the 500 series DSLR’s from Sony the choices have expanded, but in my case, still fall short. While the Live View is impressive, these cameras are still entry to mid-level models and don’t have enough key points for me to settle for them. While Sony did recently display a couple of mockup bodies at recent trade shows that seem to be the next generation A700 (A750 or 600 Series?) but I can’t buy a mockup. Instead they announced the Alpha 450, yet another entry/mid-level model.

Since Sony has chosen to drag its feet to fill the big gap between the A550 and A850 I’ve opted to jump ship. While a full frame 25MP Alpha 850 is temping, the price and slower fps capture speed leave me cold, and as mentioned the under-$1000 A500/A550 just don’t have enough important features and build quality for me to purchase new. Canon timed it right and with the release of their new EOS 7D flagship for its APS-C DSLR line, they’ve added one more Canonite to the fold.

What doesn’t this camera have? With an 18MP CMOS sensor, 8 fps capture speed, ISO up to 12800, improved AI Servo II Auto Focus and 100% viewfinder make it a logical choice. The current instant rebate from Canon doesn’t hurt either.  I lose the in-camera anti-shake that the Sony DLSR line provides, but I really only use three lenses (wide-angle zoom, fixed length for portraits, and tele-zoom for sports), so the loss of this feature isn't a deal breaker. While there is some additional investment in Canon lenses with IS, the economical pain is brief. I’m looking forward to new possibilities.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kelby Training Seminars: Affordable, Educational and This Time "Lucky"

I’m a big proponent of Scott Kelby and a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) so when the training arm of his company, recently came to Phoenix, I was there. As a NAPP member their day long workshop is only 79 bucks and that’s a steal in my opinion. This particular session was Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks Tour with instructor Corey Barker.

The classes include Layers & Compositing Techniques, Designing with Type, Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks, Photoshop Killer Tips, and Photoshop’s Most Wanted. With each session they also provide a detailed seminar workbook that covers everything taught in the classes and provides sections for taking notes, as many additional tips are given by the instructor during the day. This is a great reference guide, and I still refer to one from a class I attended a couple of years ago; excellent step-by-step instructions. Other freebies include a Goodies DVD and keyboard shortcut guide.

There had to be at least 300 people at the seminar I attended including digital photographers, graphic artists and designers, Windows and Mac users, and DSLR shooters using several of the top manufacturers. It’s a great place to interact with our own kind! Before and during the seminar there is a vendor area where on this day, Wacom, onOne and NAPP were on hand with their latest wears. The amount of vendors varies from city to city and at each seminar there are lots of giveaways in addition to the discounted NAPP merchandise and membership offers available. onOne even gave a demo during the lunch break of their new Plug-In Suite 5 software that includes PhotoTools, PhotoTune, FocalPoint, Genuine Fractals, PhotoFrame and MaskPro. MaskPro is especially a “Wow” software.

I’ve been to three of these seminars so far, and at one last year I renewed my NAPP membership at a discounted price and received a book and two training DVD’s for free! These were well worth the price of the membership which is $99 for one year and $179 for two years. Yes, I am pandering but I like these guys and what they have to offer. If you haven’t checked out the many Scott Kelby training books, you should, they make learning Photoshop, Lightroom, and digital photography simple. The online training classes and DVD’s from are great resources for learning new techniques.

The best part of this most recent seminar was that lady luck must have been sitting in the empty seat next to me, because while other folks won a variety of giveaways such as the many Kelby Training books and DVD’s, even Wacom gave away an Intous4 tablet, the big giveaway was the Plug-in Suite 5 from onOne (a $599 value). When my name was called I let out a loud “Sweeeeet!” and claimed my prize. This is cool software and I’m still just learning it. I indent to post some of my experience with these products soon. Thanks Scott Kelby, NAPP and onOne for a great day of learning new Photoshop techniques, meeting new interesting people, and providing me with an improved post-production workflow to provide great looking images for my clients. By the way onOne is currently providing a $200 discount on its Plug-in Suite 5 product until March 25th, 2010. There I go pandering again.

Is Compact Flash Becoming Extinct?

Rumors abound that Compact Flash media is doomed. Manisha Sharma, Director of Product Marketing at Lexar, one of the biggest names in Compact Flash memory cards, as well as SD, tackles this topic in a recent interview on

I like my CF cards and they’ll have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands to get ‘em.

Tamron Announces Upcoming 60th Anniversary 70-300mm VC USD Lens

President and CEO Morio Ono of optical equipment manufacturer Tamron Co., Ltd., announced another advance in Tamron's pursuit of high resolution images in the telephoto lens category with the development of a 70-300mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens featuring image stabilization––VC (Vibration Compensation) and an ultrasonic auto-focus drive –– USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive). The SP AF70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD (Model A005) high-resolution DSLR telephoto zoom lens has been produced first for the Nikon mount, with the development of compatible mounts for Canon and Sony to follow.

This new telephoto zoom lens is designed for digital SLR cameras and can be used with both full-frame sensor as well as AF 35mm film cameras with a zoom range of 70-300mm; and with APS-C sensor cameras where the angle of view will change the zoom range equal to 109-465mm.

Wacom Introduces New Wireless Intous 4 Tablet

Wacom has released its latest addition to the Intuos 4 family of pen tablets, and it’s wireless. Shutterbug takes a closer look at the tablet which is essentially an Intuos 4 medium tablet (6x8) featuring Bluetooth technology. By the way the wireless version only comes in the Medium size and the Wacom representative I spoke with recently stated they have no intention at this time to introduce a small or large wireless version.

I own the small Intuos 4 as I like to slip it in my backpack with the laptop and camera and take it anywhere I want. Oh how I wish it was wireless, as the USB cable can be annoying at times. I had the chance to try out the wireless version at a recent Kelby Training workshop and enjoyed the novelty of standing up, walking around and moving up to a distance of 33 feet while editing an image . If you’ve turned your HDTV into a big 46” monitor for your laptop, using the wireless tablet and kickin’ it on the couch while Photoshoping, would be working comfort at its best.

The new wireless tablet retails for around $399, but I’ve seen it as low as $379 ( Purchasers of any Intuos4 tablet, including the new wireless version, are entitled to a choice of two applications from a selection of three creative applications offered by leading software manufacturers Adobe, Autodesk and Corel. I’m really enjoying the small Intous 4 tablet and recommend this line of pen tablets to any serious digital photographer or artist, and I’m sure going wireless would only enhance the experience.

Sigma Announces New 150-500mm APO HSM Lens for Sony and Pentax

Sigma has announced the APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens for Sony and Pentax.  Below is the official company press release.

The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of the new APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM for Sony and Pentax.

This ultra-telephoto zoom lens covers a telephoto range up to 500mm and allows photographers to bring the subject close and short perspective. This lens has an equivalent field of view of a 225-750mm when used on digital SLR cameras with an APS-C size image sensor. Sigma’s original OS (Optical Stabilizer) function offers the use of shutter speeds approximately 4 stops slower. As compensation for camera shake is visible in the view finder, the photographer can easily check for accurate focus and ensure there is no subject movement.It is ideal for sports, wildlife and landscape photography with handheld shooting. Three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements provide excellent correction for chromatic aberration. This lens is equipped with a rear focus system that minimizes fluctuation of aberration caused by focusing. The super multi-layer lens coating reduces flare and ghosting. High image quality is assured throughout the entire zoom range. This lens incorporates HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), which ensures a quiet and high-speed AF as well as full-time manual focusing capability. The addition of the (optional) 1.4x EX DG APO or 2x EX DG APO Tele Converters produce a 210-700mm F7-9 MF ultra-telephoto zoom lens or a 300-1000mm F10-13 MF ultra-telephoto zoom lens respectively (For Sony fitting only). A removable tripod socket (TS-31) is included as a standard component.