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September 2008 Archives

September 1, 2008

Lightroom's best-kept secret

By David Ziser, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP

Editor’s note: In his new column in Professional Photographer magazine, renowned wedding photographer and popular instructor David Ziser shares his insights on the art and business of photography.

I have to tell you that I'm becoming a really big fan of Lightroom 2. There are a couple of features in the new version that simply make it one of the most remarkable pieces of software on the planet earth. Watch this video from my blog and see if you don't agree with me. 


The full release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is now available for purchase ($299, $99 upgrade), or you can download a free trial version.

Review: Nikon D60

By Ron Eggers

Everybody has probably seen the Nikon commercials by now where Ashton Kutcher is fumbling around with a Nikon D60 taking candid shots at a friend's wedding. That implies that, if he can come up with great shots with the D60, anybody can. Judging by the ad, the D60 is being marketed as a camera that's idiot proof. It's true that it's an entry-level model, but marketing the D60 as a point-and-shoot is selling it a little short. While it is easy to use, it provides many of the controls and capabilities expected in a more sophisticated camera.

For example, it includes Nikon's sophisticated 3D Color Matrix Metering II for highly accurate exposure control, and features an active dust reduction system with airflow control to significantly reduce the problem of sensor spotting. Each time the camera is turned on or off, the sensor is cleared of dust.

It also includes another way of reducing dust imperfections on images. Like with some professional models, it's possible to take a dust reference image, which is then used by the camera to lift the dust spots off of captured images. It has a 10.2-megapixel DX-format CCD sensor with a maximum resolution of 3,872x2,592 pixels. Weighing only slightly more than a pound, it's an extremely compact camera. It is, in fact, the smallest DSLR that Nikon has released. Still, even though it is small, it has a good-sized 2.5" LCD with 170-degree viewability.

The D60 includes Nikon's advanced EXPEED image processing. EXPEED can be a little confusing. Even though both an introductory-level camera and a top-of-the-line camera incorporate EXPEED, image processing and handling are not the same for the two models. Rather than an image-processing engine, EXPEED is an image-processing concept that optimizes image processing for each of the cameras that it's incorporated into. Which means that, even though professional and consumer models incorporate EXPEED, the actual image-processing components can be quite different from one model to the next.

Responsive to action: This shot was taken at 1/1,600 second at f/10, ISO 800. ©Ron Eggers

Continue reading "Review: Nikon D60" »

Review: PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED Lens

By Joe FaracePC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D lens

The PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED lens was introduced along with the PC-E Micro Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D, bringing the total number of Nikon’s Perspective Control (PC) lenses up to four, the others being the PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED and the PC Micro Nikko 85mm f/2.8D. Perspective Control lenses correct linear distortion, reproducing images as they are seen by the human eye, straightening a building’s converging lines in architectural photography while giving the you more control over depth-of-field. PC lenses are useful for architecture, both exteriors and interiors, but are also handy for nature, still life, and product photography.

If you're photographing architecture with a conventional lens and you’re close to the subject, you have to tilt the camera to capture the major portion of the building. When that happens, especially with a wide-angle lens, it usually distorts lines that should be straight and parallel to others, and while this kind of distortion may be used to produce a dramatic composition it is not the kind of image beloved by architects and owners looking to sell or lease the property.

A perspective control lens, such as the 45mm PC-E Micro Nikkor PC-E, has shift controls that can correct this type of distortion. The 45mm PC-E Micro Nikkor PC-E’s tilt control also gives additional creative control over depth-of-field and lets you effectively change the camera’s apparent position to avoid unwanted reflections in an image.

A combination of both tilt and shift controls are part of all PC-E Nikkor lenses and let you isolate or emphasize a subject though selective focus. Both of these controls are well know to view camera photographers familiar with the Scheimpflug principle for depth-of-field that states the plane of focus will cover the entire subject from front to back (independent of the aperture) if the subject, lens and image planes intersect at one point. When these conditions are met, the position of the plane of focus corresponds to the object plane and everything appears in focus.

The Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass element minimizes chromatic aberration, and three aspherical lens elements minimize other types of lens aberration. This photograph was made with the 45mm PC-E Micro Nikkor PC-E on a tripod mounted Nikon D3 in Live View mode. Exposure was 1/20 second at f/22, ISO 320, with a plus one and one third stop exposure compensation. Lens shift of 10mm was used. ©2008 Joe Farace

Continue reading "Review: PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED Lens" »

September 2, 2008

Congratulations to Roz Savage

Former photographer completes first stage of solo Pacific row

©Mike Danzeisen - Roz Savage arrives in Hawaii 20080901

By Joan Sherwood, Senior Editor

Though we constantly hear of new professionals who've entered photography after leaving established careers in other fields, we rarely hear what they go on to do after that in the instances when it doesn't quite work out. Roz Savage's unlikely career track progressed from corporate manager and consultant, to part-time wedding and portrait photographer, and on to ocean rower, environmental advocate, adventurer, and corporate and motivational speaker. On Sept. 1, Roz Savage completed the first stage of her attempt to be the first woman to row solo across the Pacific and became the first woman to row solo from San Francisco to Hawaii.

Caption: Roz Savage on the morning of her arrival in Honolulu after rowing 2,598 nautical miles from San Francisco to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the world's oceans. Photo ©Mike Danzeisen

Savage arrived in Honolulu in the early dawn of Sept. 1, having rowed across 2,598 nautical miles in 99 days, 8 hours and 55 minutes. The purpose of her voyage is to bring attention to the crisis the world's oceans face, particularly plastic pollution that as it degrades is making its way into the food chain. She shared the details of her voyage through a daily blog and thrice-weekly podcasts achieved via satellite phone in interviews with Leo Laporte, host of This Week in Tech and other technology-related shows produced by Twit.tv. In the next phase of her journey, scheduled to begin in March of 2009 when weather conditions are favorable, she will row from Hawaii to the Tuvalu Islands, and in 2010 she will attempt the final leg from Tuvalu to Australia.  

In her last podcast with Laporte for this year, Savage commented on her rowing as a metaphor for what one person can do for the environment, saying "It’s all about the cumulative effect of small actions, good or bad. If I’d have stood there on the coast of California saying, 'Well, one oar stroke isn’t going to get me anywhere,' I would still be in San Francisco. But you do something, like an oar stroke, and you repeat it a million times, and you find out you’ve really achieved something."

We wish her great success in her future endeavors.

©Phil Uhl - Roz Savage arrives in Hawaii 20080901
Roz Savage arrives at the Waikiki Yacht Club after 99 days at sea, becoming the first woman to row solo from San Francisco to Hawaii in the first leg of her attempt to row solo across the Pacific from California to Australia. Photo ©Phil Uhl

Protecting Your Pixels

By Sara Frances, M.Photog.Cr.

Copy and remix. No industry is immune. Competing businesses try to improve on each other’s products or duplicate them outright, seeking greater profit, lower cost basis and market share. Mining the Internet is the norm; search engines themselves are a form of information scraping. No one thinks twice about harvesting quotes, music, scientific formulas or images. I’ve witnessed advanced degree university classes where information scraping without regard to copyright is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Photographers need to wake up to the fact that our industry is no different. Even though we insist our product is not a commodity, customers see only square inches of a print, not the result of years of artistic development. “It’s my portrait anyway.”

Same old argument; new rules and consequences. Shawn Davis, manager of internet services at Marathon Press, says “There is simply no foolproof protection for your images once they leave your studio in any form. Showing session proofs on the Internet essentially means making them available and accessible.” Internet posting in itself tends to equate images with products sold via catalogues, validating the hated commodity comparison. Check back with Marathon soon, as the buzz is they’re working on an underlying image protection tool for session proofing that will not be so easily defeated.

Facts about exposure to theft on the web:

• Copyright notice added on an image-viewing site is usually only a facsimile, and therefore easily defeated.

• Logo and copyright embedded in Photoshop is harder to eliminate, but doable with pirate-friendly software.

• Logo and copyright placed less conspicuously at the bottom or in a corner of an image need only be cropped off.

• Many small, low-res images can be successfully interpolated to 8x10 and larger with current software.

• While right-click disabling with a Java script may deter the laziest of image thieves, it's virtually useless against anyone marginally computer savvy.

• Posting enhanced or greatly retouched images prior to a substantial client purchase commitment elevates the studio’s financial risk.

• Clients can become dissatisfied and sales drop if you post images that are not color/density corrected, or if wedding images are jumbled out of logical storytelling order.

"That’s optimism?" you ask. Well, there is a brighter side, particularly though product innovations that help clients fulfill contemporary needs for social site postings, iPod movies and limited licensing for small size consumer prints.

Continue reading "Protecting Your Pixels" »

Review: Photodex ProShow Producer and "Official Photodex Guide to ProShow"

By Ron Eggers

Photodex ProShow Producer professional presentation software is easy to learn, simple to use, and contains an extensive feature set that's not readily available in other software packages. While Microsoft PowerPoint still leads the pack for creating business presentations, Producer has become a favorite among professional photographers for their needs. That's particularly the case since the company wisely dropped the necessity for a USB dongle to load and run the program.
The Official Photodex Guide to ProShow

To help users get the most out of the program, Course Technology just released “The Official Photodex Guide to ProShow.” Written by James Karney, the book aims to help users master the art of making great slide shows using ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer. This review covers both the performance of the software and the effectiveness of the book as a guide for users.

As Karney explains in Chapter 1, "The simple slide show is a thing of the past. Viewers expect sizzle. Movies, television and even our cell phones and MP3 players bring high-quality video and eye-catching special effects into every aspect of our lives." One of the things that makes Producer powerful is that it can produce output for almost every type of presentation and communications device. The book ships with an instructional CD that includes individual sections for each chapter, as well as trial versions of ProShow Gold and Producer, and the Photodex Presenter plug-in.

Continue reading "Review: Photodex ProShow Producer and "Official Photodex Guide to ProShow"" »

September 8, 2008

Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light

A thorough understanding of lighting fundamentals is vital to your growth as an artist. Learn how to add dimension to your images with hair lights.

By Don Chick, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

[Editor's note: To our regret, the last sentence of this article was truncated in the September issue of Professional Photographer. This is the article in full.]

Third in a series on the fundamentals of studio portrait lighting.

We’ve discussed the use of foundational lighting in creating a portrait; now we’ll cover the use of additional lights to add impact to your images.

A hair light in a portrait setup adds dimension and drama to the image by accenting the shoulders and crown of the subject. Like adding spice to a dish, adding a disproportionate amount of hair light can overpower the other lighting and ruin the final image. The brightness of the hair light should never be the first thing you notice about a portrait (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The inset shows excessive hair light. The larger version shows hair light that complements rather than diverting attention. ©Don Chick

The hair light should complement the rest of the image, not divert the viewer’s attention from the center of interest. Notice in Figure 2 how the hair light adds a nice bit of separation for the hat, as well as the subject’s shoulder. Imagine how bland the image would be without it.

Figure 2

©Don Chick

Because the hair light is positioned above and behind the subject, its output should generally be less than the main light—one stop less is a good starting place. For example, if the main light at the subject’s position meters at f/8, you’d adjust the hair light to read f/5.6, one stop less. For the most accurate light measurement, turn off or block out all other light sources. Point the dome of your meter at the light source you’re measuring and take the reading. If the results aren’t to your liking, adjust the hair light output accordingly.

Continue reading "Lighting Essentials 3: Hair Light" »

September 9, 2008

Product Release: Lexar 16GB 300x UDMA CompactFlash Card

Press Release: September 9, 2008Lexar Media today announced the Lexar Professional UDMA 300x 16GB CompactFlash (CF) card, a new memory card that provides an ideal combination of increased capacity, professional-level performance and reliability. Designed for professional photographers and photo enthusiasts, this lightning-fast card is UDMA-enabled (Ultra Direct Memory Access), resulting in exceedingly fast performance. Speed-rated at 300x, which represents a minimum sustained write speed of 45MB per second, the new Lexar Professional UDMA 300x 16GB CF card dramatically reduces post-production time thanks to an improved card-to-computer transfer rate when working in conjunction with a UDMA-enabled device. In addition, the very high capacity of the card allows photographers to store more images and shoot for longer periods without interruption.

When paired with a UDMA-enabled device, such as the Lexar Professional UDMA FireWire 800 Reader or the Lexar Professional UDMA Dual-Slot USB Reader, the Lexar Professional UDMA 300x 16GB CF card significantly improves the digital imaging workflow by accelerating the download of captured images to a destination computer.

Available later this month, the new Lexar Professional UDMA 16GB CF card includes a limited lifetime warranty, free dedicated technical support, and the full version of Lexar Image Rescue 3, Lexar’s award-winning image recovery software.

Professional Photographer was able to test a pre-production unit. Read the review here.

Review: Lexar 16GB 300x UDMA CompactFlash Card

By Ellis Vener

How fast is fast enough? How big is large enough?  If you shoot sports, fashion or just have a need for speed, and own a camera that can use CompactFlash UDMA media, the Lexar 300x UDMA 16GB CompactFlash (CF) is a super fast, large capacity card.

UDMA-capable cameras (as of 2008-09-09) include the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS 50D, Nikon D3 (used for these card tests), D300 and D700, and the Sony Alpha DSLR-A900. If you are looking at medium-format digital backs, the PhaseOne P+ series and recent Hasselblad backs are also UDMA capable. UDMA cards will function in non UDMA-capable cameras, but will not be able to achieve the UDMA speed (can reach 133X or the fastest capability of the camera model up to 133X).

I also tested the new UDMA CompactFlash (CF) Firewire 800 card reader as part of this review. If your current card reader is not UDMA capable you’ll need to update that as well. Both the cameras listed and the new Lexar reader are backward-compatible with older Type I and Type II media.

I shot about 3,000 frames using the Lexar 16GB 300X card. Folks, this is one fast system. I was able to shoot at 11 frames per second (fps) with the Nikon D3 set to record at 14-bit per channel lossless compressed full-size NEFs. As the D3 has two separate CompactFlash media slots, I tested the Lexar 300x CF UDMA as a single card, and also combined with a second CF card using the Lexar as either the primary card or in the second slot as an in camera backup device and as an overflow card.

Continue reading "Review: Lexar 16GB 300x UDMA CompactFlash Card" »

September 11, 2008

SanDisk Announces 32GB SanDisk Extreme III CF Card

Press Release—September 11, 2008—SanDisk today announced the 32GB SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash (CF) card, the latest addition to its award-winning SanDisk Extreme III line. SanDisk’s new memory card is designed to meet the demands of professional digital videographers and photographers with read/write speed up to 30MB/s (200X).

All SanDisk Extreme III CF cards from 4GB to 32GB, as well as the new SanDisk Extreme III SDHC and SanDisk Extreme III Memory Stick PRO HG DUO, recently received a 50-percent speed increase from 20MB/s to 30MB/s.

The 32GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price in the United States of $299.99. Worldwide availability of the card is targeted for October 2008.

September 17, 2008

Canon Announces Anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Escalates Full-Frame Digital SLR Photography to the Next Level with HD Movie Recording Capabilities

Press Release—Canon today announced the highly anticipated EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, the successor to Canon's highly popular EOS 5D, introduced in 2005. Canon has coupled the creative power of a full-frame CMOS sensor with groundbreaking HD video capture that opens the door to a much wider range of imaging possibilities for photographers. Along with the ability to capture full HD video clips at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, Canon's EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24x36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

Advances in the new EOS 5D Mark II include Canon's proprietary DIGIC 4 Imaging Processor powering the camera's fast 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion for smooth color tones and exceptional gradation. Capture rate is stated at 3.9 frames per second (fps) of continuous shooting for an unlimited number of full-resolution JPEGs to the capacity of the memory card or up to 14 RAW images in a single burst when using a UDMA CF card. The camera includes a 15-point Autofocus (AF) sensor with nine selectable AF points plus six additional Assist AF points (three center AF points sensitive to f/2.8 lenses) with enhanced light source detection and AF microadjustment for greater autofocus performance. The EOS 5D Mark II camera also features a large, clear 3.0-inch Clear View LCD screen with 920,000 dot/VGA resolution, four times the pixel count of the EOS 5D camera's 2.5-inch screen, for enhanced clarity and color when viewing images. The new camera is equipped with a high-performance, high-magnification optical viewfinder providing 98 percent coverage, giving a new dimension to the saying, "what you see is what you get." Professional photographers will also appreciate the enhanced 150,000-cycle shutter durability of the EOS 5D Mark II camera.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera is compatible with Canon EF lenses and is scheduled for delivery by the end of November. The EOS 5D Mark II will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $2,699. It will additionally be offered in a kit version with Canon's EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens at an estimated retail price of $3,499.


Continue reading "Canon Announces Anticipated Canon EOS 5D Mark II" »

About September 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in September 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2008 is the previous archive.

October 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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