Amazon Prime Instant Video: 30-day free trial (restrictions apply)
31 May 2013, Friday
Bruce Percy has an e-book that finally shows clearly how to do all the difficult image tweaks that are critical in making good images great. He shows step-by-step how to use adjustment layers and masks for localized image adjustments, which are the most important things you can do to your images in a computer.
More precisely, Bruce finally explains, for the first time I've ever seen it written down, how to do burning and dodging properly in Photoshop. This is the most important image correction you can do in a computer, and it's critical for people and landscape and every kind of shot, and I have yet to see it in a book.
Creative use of adjustment layers and masks is the most important part of Photoshop, and something few hobbyists ever learn.
I use this process all the time for lightening faces and darkening corners and backgrounds to make my subjects pop!
Bruce goes into a whole lot more, too, and it's all easy to understand.
If you use a computer to process your images and don't yet know how to use layers and masks, you need this e-Book. (sorry, this one's not free.)
Sony 28-75mm f/2.8.
For Sony Alpha cameras. It didn't work on my MAXXUM 7000.
Just like the little old lady with a couple of .45s hidden in the back pocket and the underseat of her wheelchair who doesn't expect to have to use them, we also use protective UV filters just in case.
Most of us are pretty careful, so for decades I've always had UV filters on my lenses, and all they did was keep the dust off.
I smashed a filter for the first time in 30 years of shooting in 2001. I was hiking in the Cuyumacas, and the Nikon 80-200/2.8 AF-S on my F100 slid around my neck and banged itself on a boulder as we scrambled. My girlfriend at the time was horrified, thinking I just has smashed my 80-200/2.8, while I was laughing.
HA HA!!!! I just justified having had all these filters on all these lenses these past 30 years! WHOO HOO!
She didn't realize that all it took was some needle-nose pliers to twist the empty ring off of the lens, and voilà, a brand-new lens was underneath!
Last weekend for the second time ever, I leaned over to get a drink out of a fridge in the back yard, my Sony A99 slid forward around my neck again and beaned itself on an unseen pointy corner of a metal patio chair. The filter on my Minolta 28-85mm was a little scratched towards the outside, and the lens is fine! In fact, the scratch is in an unimportant area, so my filter stays serving today! Wow! Saved by the filter now twice in one lifetime! Whoo Hoo!
The Chicago Sun-Times supposedly has gotten with the program and gotten rid of its photography staff. It will instead use freelancers, who I presume will do a better job faster and for less money. By freelancers, I presume that means not only people with video DSLRs, but also everyone who grabbed video on their iPhone as an event happened. By better job, I mean not what a college journalism professor would define as quality, but what the majority of the stupider public wants to see.
I have no familiarity with the specifics, but no one needs print newspapers or still photos anymore for news. Sure, my work hangs on walls, but that's art, not news. The public wants gory video of something happening, not still shots of the aftermath.
For news, people want to see videos of people getting hurt or doing stupid things, and newspapers today have to be online, and loaded with video. There's no point in paying people to be based in an office waiting to get sent out on assignments with still cameras when freelancers with video are already there.
Today, we no longer need "photographers" for news. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an iPhone, and when news happens, the people who are part of the news already have the story. It makes no sense to send out a captive news crew when there are already people there with the pictures and live video — who will let those photos be used for a lot less money than paying a captive news crew.
In the old days, news photos were still shots of the aftermath, taken whenever photographers arrived after hearing about it on the scanner.
Today, the general public can capture whatever crazy things happen, as they are happening. Want to see a tsunami destroy Solana Beach? You'll get it live from the 7-year old on his bike, not from some guy wearing a fedora with a PRESS pass in his hatband arriving 15 minutes after there's nothing left.
A blurry, jittery video of the actual event happening is far better than sharp video of interviews with boring journailsts after it already happened. Did Capra's shots of Omaha Beach have to be sharp? Of course not; being there is what counted, and an iPhone photo today wouldn't have gotten screwed up the way his film did.
This is reality. Digital makes photographers redundant when the general public can get better, newer, fresher and more truthful news photos and videos from more people from more angles than sending some bookish journalist there 10 minutes after it's already over.
Photographers are a hungry lot. If the paper needs something shot like a ceremony, there is always someone younger, faster and better who'll get the job done — usually for free — just to see his name in the credit.
It's the way of the world. I never buy retail, but it's all the same. Today, retail stores use fleets of part-timers with schedules jacked around to meet demand. Stores need not hire full-time people to sit around and collect benefits when part timers come in and are fresher because they only work 3 or 4 hours, and they work harder because they believe the myth that if they work hard, they'll get hired full-time. Nope; there are always more people willing to step in part-time if the others get lazy.
Art is art, but newspapers are commerce, and this is America. Newspapers need to stay more profitable and have fresher news than the others in town, or they go out of business. It's a jungle here in America, and this eat or be eaten mentality is what forces us to work harder and keeps America as the world's largest economy. When people get paid for sitting around just because "good people deserve a good living" as they did in the Soviet Union, the whole thing circles the drain and goes out of business, as the Soviet Union proved when it vanished in the 1980s.
Life is tough, but if I didn't get laid off or fired from all the jobs I used to have, I'd really be wasting my time and not producing anything. Layoffs are good; they forced me to find better jobs, and then eventually run my own business.
Quality journalism isn't what counts commercially; it's all about readership and profits.
30 May 2013, Thursday
Minolta MAXXUM AF 50mm f/2.8 Macro.
For Sony Alpha, MAXXUM and Dynax cameras.
29 May 2013, Wednesday
NEW: Sony A99 Review.
You knew I was working on this. It took me two weeks to get used to it, and now that I have, I love the A99!
25 May 2013, Saturday
Minolta 20mm f/2.8.
Works great on Sony Alpha!
24 May 2013, Friday
Sony HVL-F20AM Flash.
23 May 2013, Thursday
NEW: AKG K702 Review.
21 May 2013, Tuesday
Best DX Ultrawide
A friend asks which ultrawide lens is best for their DX camera.
Nikon 12-24 - best built lens mechanically and most expensive
Nikon 10-24 - widest range, least expensive and most cheaply made (made in China). The ultrawide I usually use on DX for its wider range.
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 - least expensive, great performance and built tougher than the 10-24 - for less money.
Think Tank Retrospective Test Drives
With the Test Drive, you get to try out a Retrospective bag for 30 days. If you keep the Retrospective, they charge your card — or just return the Retrospective and nothing gets charged.
For those who carry a lot
20 May 2013, Monday
Updated: Tripod Recommendations.
A reader writes that his rights to hand-inspection of film were denied at a US airport, and wonders if his X-rated Velvia is now worthless.
No worries, it's fine.
20 years ago coming back from a trip, I had some extra Velvia. I had 4x5 Quick-Loads, and ran some through the X-ray machine at Heathrow about 10 times, and kept the rest of the film as reference.
It was pretty funny, the London screeners kept taking the bin with the film from one end of the machine and sticking it in the other. As it went around and around again, one screener joked "you're going to make us ruin our bin!"
Anyway, with the 4x5" film home, I later shot the same thing on the X-rated film as well as with the untouched film, obviously all from the same batch. This is easy with 4x5," each sheet loads separately.
There was no difference between the films. My ASA 50 Velvia was unaffected by ten or more passes through Heathrow's carry-on scanner.
Therefore, if you lack the diplomatic skills to have your film hand-checked, don't worry. Don't send it with your luggage — those scanners will expose you film — but don't worry if it gets nailed once at the carry-on aisle. Just avoid any more scans; they all add up, just like any other exposure, but ten or more scans at ASA 50 were fine.
17 May 2013, Friday
NEW: Sony 50mm f/1.4 Review.
Sony 50mm f/1.4.
15 May 2013, Wednesday
AF Fine Tune?
You don't need it; don't buy a new camera because you think it will get you sharper pictures.
I never use the AF Fine Tune feature on any of my cameras — it's not needed.
The only time I need AF Fine Tune is with the occasional off-brand lens, or the very odd sample of older AF lens from the 1980s.
So long as you stick to real (Nikon, Canon or LEICA) lenses and are buying reasonably new products from the past 10 years or so, DSLRs have all the proper corrections already in their firmware.
AF Fine tune is only needed for one in twenty BAD old lenses. Modern lenses almost never need any tuning, it's only for old ones from the 1980s you already have in your collection if you're an old-timer like me — or maybe if you have some junk from Sigma or Tamron or whoever you're still trying to use with your new camera.
If you're buying new lenses for your new cameras, AF Fine Tune will only make your photos worse by screwing with it. Sure, if you have a bad lens AF fine tune might help, but why use bad lenses, and why buy a new camera if it's a lens that needs to be replaced?
So, as always, stick to name-brand lenses, and don't go telling anyone I told you you needed a new camera to get sharper pictures.
They are usually $269.00, but use secret coupon code S0511113 on checkout and you'll get it for only $229.00 - with free shipping!
This deal expires on 16 May 2013.
World's first autofocus SLR.
14 May 2013, Tuesday
NEW: Canon 200-400mm f/4 IS.
Canon 200-400mm f/4 IS with built-in 1.4x extender.
First announced over two years ago, now available for sale.
What's neat is that you can flip-in the extender without taking your eye from the finder.
NEW: Nikon 1 32mm f/1.2.
Nikon 1 32mm f/1.2.
13 May 2013, Monday
Which bag did I get for my X100S?
NONE! That's the whole point of the X100S; you don;t need a bag because there's nothing else to carry.
Für meine LEICA, I did order a Mirrorless Mover 30i. We'll see how it stacks up to my other favorite, a Pinestone Retrospective 5 I was using this weekend with my Minolta Maxxum 7000, Maxxum 28-85, Maxxum 50/1.7 and Maxxum 70-210/4.
10 May 2013, Friday
P.S.: Think Tank is also giving away free shipping on all orders (and also a 15” laptop bag if you're getting one of their roller bags), all through the end of May.
DEALS: Canon's Newest Rebates.
NWF Photo Contest!
Win and come see me!
Time to get on it; early-bird offers end 15 May 2013 (Wednesday).
Each year they have the world's most astounding wildlife shots submitted, and have some great prizes.
Sure, they are awarding iPads, and Grand Prize is an expense-paid trip for two to see and photograph polar bears in the wild in northern Canada, eh!
Free Photo Enhancement Offer
SlickPic is having a Mother's Day Special: get some of your photos enhanced by professionals for FREE. (Just click on sign up or Plans and pricing - it will be there.)
Offer expires on Tuesday, May 14.
09 May 2013, Thursday
You bird shooters know who you are; get it while you can, and get a $1,000 gift card in the process. Hint: use the $1,000 gift card as a bribe to your wife! Don't tell her what the lens costs, just say its for the kid's soccer games, and that she'll be getting a $1,000 gift card in the process. Adorama has iPads, TVs and Jill-e bags, too!
08 May 2013, Wednesday
Nikon 55-200mm VR DX.
All you need for a tele on DX; no need to pay more.
DEAL: Nikon D3100 + 18-55mm and 55-200mm are on sale for a paltry $497. That's only half what people paid in 2010. Noite that this kit has the non-VR lens; but so what; get the 55-200 VR above and throw away (or Adorama) the non-VR one.
Nikon D3100 and 18-55mm VR.
More is Better: See Apple's ad for the iPhone camera.
I had no idea; more photos are taken every day with the iPhone than any other camera.
It makes sense; the iPhone 5 has a camera that gives better color at its default settings than any other camera I've used. As some readers have asked, "How do I set up my Canon or Nikon to give great color, exposure and white balance like my iPhone?," and the answer is that you can't. The iPhone is better than any camera I've used at getting better color more of the time than anything else at its defaults.
Sure, I can jack-up my Nikon or Canon for great people or thing photos, but I need different settings for each.
My LEICA, Casio and Sony digital cameras never measure up. Their color rendiotion is never as good as the iPhone 5.
The Fuji X100S is the best at shooting in any possible light, and it's fantastic for people photos, but again, I set mine to enhance color and its colors aren't as good for photos of things as are Nikon or Canon when they're jacked up on color.
I've never used the iPhone 4. My iPhone 3GS' camera isn't that great, while the iPhone 5 is fantastic; and when I shoot on iPhone, it's trivial to edit and publish the photos at the same time. Done.
I've been telling marketing people for the past ten years that compact point-and-shoot cameras' days were numbered until people finally learn how to use their phone cameras. It looks like now that we have iPhone, people have. Hooray!
07 May 2013, Tuesday
I rarely bother shooting my X100S at its full 16MP resolution because I don't need it, but if I do, just look at the pixel-to-pixel sharpness:
Sharp enough for you? 5355 at 16 MP. X100S, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/680, +2 saturation. © full-resolution NORMAL LARGE (16MP L 3:2 N) file. (run through Perfectly Clear at defaults.)
Golly, it's sharper than my Nikon and Canon DSLRs from pixel-to-pixel, because of the superior 23mm f/2 ASPH lens and the Fuji's magic sensor with an innovative color matrix that eliminates the need for an anti-alias filter — and this shot is a NORMAL JPG, not Fine and certainly not RAW.
Four-year-old Katie got me again yesterday.
She insisted I sit down and do arts and crafts with her.
She had me take a piece of white paper out of mom's printer, sit down at her art table, and start to do arts and crafts.
I sat staring at the blank sheet, and asked her what I was supposed to draw.
"It's arts and crafts. Draw whatever you want!"
It's all about filling a blank canvas with whatever hits our imagination; whatever's fun. It's never about having a theme or a required subject; it's all about drawing whatever we want to.
It's exactly the same in photography. The best work comes from keeping an open mind and seeing what pops into it.
The D7100 is magnificent, but if money matters to you, the D7000 is 95% the same thing, and as a previous model, can be had for about 60% of the price of the new D7100.
Check Adorama for all the different ways to order it; my favorite is the refurbished version at $744.
Hee hee, while some people try to tell your wives that I made you buy a new camera, even though I spend more time trying to enlighten everyone that no one needs a new camera, it's all you people's fault that I have to buy the newest cameras when they first come out at full price!
Given my cheapskate druthers, I'd wait to buy them as factory refurbished at half price if I could. See the hardship I endure buying all the new stuff to test out? Someone has to take one for the team.
Oh oh: my 4-year-old can outshoot most of us
While most photo enthusiasts worry themselves senseless about camera gear and therefore don't have the time to think about their pictures, Katie already has shown more creativity than most photo equipment enthusiasts ever do.
While drive-by shooting, Katie had me stop and move our car back and fourth to get her into the right position, and then very carefully Dutched (tilted) her camera to force another parked car into a diagonal across her image.
I was impressed and curious, since I rarely see such thought put into images people shoot and send me, and asked her why she did that. She said "to make the car look cool."
That's 99% of photography right there: make it look the way you want it to look. You have to move around (me driving our car to order), and then her very carefully composing her work to get what she wanted. The camera had nothing to do with it.
Katie's photo of a car, making it look "cool." (VTech 1227, whose LCD shows only the square center-crop of the full image shown here.)
Photo hobbyists never display this freedom of composition, while we see it all the time in professional car images in print and TV ads.
I'm not calling my kid smart; I'm entreating all the gear-heads out there to outgrow their hardware and software fetishes and start thinking about making better images before this little blonde noisemaker starts outshooting all of us when I finally teach her to squeeze the trigger instead of jerking it. Make all the fun you want of her toy camera, but it got the highlights and shadows all right where they need to be, far better and faster than I used to be able to print black-and-white in the darkroom.
Today with our digital cameras, tech knowledge is largely as obsolete a knowing how to calculate logarithms in your head; any idiot today can make technically perfect images at the touch of a button (or find logarithms with the iPhone calculator app), but what's in our images will only come from our own imaginations and creativity.
06 May 2013, Monday
Talk into my camera?
A reader was perplexed as to why a pro shooter was having people talk into his Nikon at an event.
With the press of one dedicated button, it records an audio file with the same file name, but different suffix, as the picture (DSC_1234.JPG and DSC_1234.WAV, for instance).
Why do we care? Simple: it can take all sorts of notes whispered into its mic, which is on the back of the camera next to our lips, so we can record which guy is what or who is who quietly as we shoot.
Maybe we want to get the subject giving us a verbal model release (check in your locality), or even record what's going on around us, like when Katie was born (WAV file from my D3). Maybe someone wants to buy a picture, and you can record his name and mailing address right with the file.
Newsmen are always taking notes, and this today is one of the ways it's done. No one-button recorder, and it's not a pro camera.
These recorders are for note-taking; it is illegal in many places to record conversations without their knowledge. Newsmen know the rules, know your own, too.
More deals? Geesh...
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VR/IS Reg. $359.00, Rebate Price $259.00. (Starts Tuesday, 07 May 2013 and ends 15 May 2013; currently there is an $50 rebate but starting tomorrow it will increase to $100 off!)
NEW: Audeze LCD-3 Review.
05 May 1961, Sunday
FIRST AMERICAN IN SPACE: Alan Shepard.
Today in 1961 Alan Shepard was the first American to fly into space. It was a huge deal, and more than one-third of America watched the flight live. In February, 1971, Alan Shepard became the fifth man ever to walk on the moon.
What people may not realize today is how important was this first flight. We had no idea if he was going to live; no free human had ever be stuffed into a rocket before and blasted off. For all we knew, and as we were going to find out, he could have been killed from the acceleration on takeoff, or more likely on hitting the Earth on return, or by the temperatures, lack of air, or any of a zillion factors we hadn't considered.
He flew this entirely on instruments — there was not a single window in the rocket!
How crazy are we Americans? Charles Lindbergh's first flight from Long Island, New York to Europe was also made in a craft with no front window! Lindbergh preferred that the huge fuel tank was put in front of him, not behind, for better weight and balance.
I hadn't realized that today was so important until I just happened to be watching "When We Left Earth" with my 6-year-old. When We Left Earth is a great documentary loaded with film showing even what was going on in the capsule the whole time, live. It's so much better for Ryan to learn this by seeing the real thing. Men didn't simply get in a ship and hit GO; everything was one huge life-risking first-time-ever experiment, and plenty of Americans died in the ten years it took us to get to the moon. It never stopped us.
It's sad today that the real US space program all went top-secret by the mid-1970s, so the only thing Ryan knows about is to tell me how he saw similar space flight on his cartoons today. I'd be sad if all the US was doing in space today was what we saw on cartoons; the real projects we've been building have all gone up shrouded in the highest levels of secrecy. There's a very good reason no other nation has been able to follow us to the moon, much less even fire a trans-lunar injection burn.
03 May 2013, Friday
FREE: Bruce Percy e-Book.
Scroll down almost to the bottom and look for "Simplifying Visualization. It's FREE until 31 May 2013.
6x12 cm Panoramic Camera
Scope out the new Lomography Belair 6x12 folding 120-format camera. It comes with two lenses included — for only $299!
New Sigma Lenses
Voigtländer Lens Specials
Voigtländer 25mm f/0.95 for micro 4/3. Reg. $1,199.00; Special: $999.00.
Voigtländer 17.5mm f/0.95 for micro 4/3. Reg. $1,249.00; Special: $1,149.00.
All with free shipping. Expires 15 May 2013.
My usual favorites went away, but today, an even better deal for a tripod is this Sunpak with a grip ballhead, for only $24.95 — with free shipping!
Another deal is the Dolica AX570B001 for $29.99. It includes an excellent case, which the Sunpak does not.
Sure, you rich folk will buy your big Gitzo carbon fibres and Really Right Stuffs and leave them in your Bentley's trunk most of the time so they stay clean, but a tripod only works if it's light enough for you to want to take it with you and use it. It doesn't have to be very sturdy — unless you plan on banging it as you shoot.
I never use a tripod with the new "digital" cameras and VR lenses, but when I shoot real cameras with ASA 50 film and filters giving me effective ASAs of 10 and want depth of field in dim light without VR, I will use a tripod once every couple months, so I like having a cheap, light tripod in my trunk. (The wife gets the good car; my car is 12 years old and has 104,000 miles on it. Such are these difficult times.)
Digital Cinematography Deals
Here's an example of what I meant when I explain that when you buy an inexpensive Canon, Leica or Nikon that you're taking advantage of their knowledge in making much higher-level optics — optics that junk brands just don't make. Here's a $45,000 Canon EF-mount lens for cinema, for instance, and Canon makes lenses far more expensive than that for television sportscasting.
Sure, sometimes junk brands will make a one-off lens for show to impress the impressionable, but Nikon, Canon and Zeiss make — and actually sell in quantity — million-dollar IC wafer fab stepper lenses, too.
02 May 2013, Thursday
Zeiss finally gets a round touit!
Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8.
Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8.
SlickPic Spring Savings
Get $30 off the first year of your PRO subscription. Offer expires at the end of the day on Monday, May 6.
01 May 2013, Wednesday
I hope to be teaching at the Sierra Photo Club's Photo Camp, Saturday, 11 May 2013, in the woods outside San Diego.
The price is almost free because we're all donating our time.
I hope to see you there!
This deal is for 2 days only: G-Technology 500GB G-CONNECT Wireless Storage for iPad/iPhone. Reg. $189.95, Coupon Price $99.95. Use Coupon Code S0502131. Expires 02 May 2013.
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