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A friend of mine, Tom Bridge, recently found a Canon 5D Mark II and posted about it on his twitter page. I asked Tom if he wouldn't mind writing up his first impressions of finding the camera, and then actually shooting with it. He sent me the following report that I thought you might enjoy.


Tom's Canon 5D Mark II

Washington DC -- Yesterday afternoon, knowing that Penn Camera was sold out on the 5D Mark II for at least 3 months, I went to Dominion Camera in Falls Church. They'd told me late on Wednesday that they had one that hadn't been claimed yet, and that it was mine, were I to come over and pay for it. So I did. I picked up the 5D Mark II with the kit lens and all the assorted accoutrements.

I ran straight home, and busily set about clearing a workspace to open the box. My only disappointment after tearing through all the manuals and whatnot was that the battery came drained. I had to sit there and watch the LED blink on the wall charger for what felt like an eternity while I assembled the camera, filled out the documents, repacked the box and put it away.

This did give me the opportunity, though, to feel the camera out. For the last three years, I've used an old Canon 10D that I got second-hand. It's a work-horse, that I love to death, but it can't hold a candle to the 5D Mark II. I hardly knew quite what to expect in the upgrade.

The best way I can describe it is to go from a car that you dearly love to drive, but has clear and delineated issues you work around, to driving a brand new sport-tuned Porsche on the Autobahn. The 5D Mark II just seems to fit my hand better than the 40D or 50D that I tried out as part of this process, and the balance is exquisite with the 24-105mm f/4 IS kit lens. I was amazed at how agile it felt, despite the significant weight. Canon did a great job just with the hold-factor of the camera.

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I tend to shoot aperture-priority most of the time, with my thumb on the wheel. I'm always dialing back the exposure with the 10D, even at 800 or H, so I get something that I could hold still enough to capture. Boy is that gone from the 5D Mark II. The flexible ISO metering is something that I'll have to get used to, and learn how to capture to its best ability. It's pretty astonishing, though, to see something that's shot at ISO 3200 that looks better than anything I shot at ISO 400 on the 10D.

I'll know a lot more after this weekend's shooting, but for the time being, I'm a very, very happy camper. Here's hoping for some good weather tomorrow, I've got my 50mm prime, the 24-105, and there's a beautiful Christmas display in downtown Pittsburgh where we're visiting.


Thanks Tom for the field report. If you have first impressions of a new camera you just laid hands on, please send it my way. You can get all the details on our Submissions page.


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Whether it's a shot of worn-out shoes from the campaign trail, or the micro-second victory by Phelps at the Summer Games, Time's Pictures of the Year for 2008 show us the highs and lows of a tumultuous 12 months.

If you have a few minutes, take a look at these 48 images. There's a lot of history here, and good photography too.

"Shoe Leather" is by Callie Shell/Aurora for Time


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Virtual camera club member Jane R sends us a terrific tip to speed up the process of rating photos in Adobe Bridge (CS3 and CS4 versions). Jane writes:

"I've got a quick tip for you. I am reading your book, The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, and do not see this one mentioned."

"To make rating photos quicker when photo editing in Bridge, go to Preferences, find Labels, and uncheck the box to "require the Control Key (or CMD key on Mac) to Apply Labels and Ratings". This way you can just type a number (0-5) on the numeric keypad for the rating. (A '2' equals 2 stars, etc.) And you can change the rating easily by just typing another number 0-5."

"Thanks for all the good information you provide via the podcast, the website, and your books. I have copies of Digital Photography Hacks and The Digital Photography Companion. I suggested my public library buy a copy of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, which I am now learning from."

Thank you for the great tip Jane! I've already changed my Preferences for both CS3 and CS4.Adobe Lightroom 2.2 Update Released

I got this note recently from Adobe PR about the latest version of Lightroom:

"Lightroom 2.2 adds raw support for seven new camera models including the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon PowerShot G10. The update also includes several refinements such as enhanced performance of the local adjustment tools. In addition, Adobe's Camera Profiles are now available natively within Lightroom 2.2 and are provided automatically as part of this release. As the visual starting point for the raw processing workflow, camera profiles provide flexibility that allows photographers to quickly achieve their desired rendering."

This looks like a great update. I'll probably download it today and give it a spin.

Olympus E-30 Sample Shots on Imaging-Resouce

As you know, I've been testing the about-to-be-released Olympus E-30 DSLR. The good folks over at Imaging-Resource.com have released a terrific gallery of sample photos from the E-30 that include test targets, outdoor shots, and studio-lit settings, all at different ISO and other settings. It will help you get your head around how this camera performs. I'll continue to focus on the special features.


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If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time. I've put together a live presentation where I show you some of my favorite new features in Photoshop CS4. And it airs today at 10:30am PST/1:30pm EST. It is absolutely free. And all attendees receive 45-days complimentary access to The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers via Safari Books Online. That means you could download the trial version of Photoshop CS4, access my book, and decide for yourself if this upgrade is for you -- and none of it will cost you a penny.

You can register right now at this site. After the presentation, I'll have a Q&A session too. It's going to be a lot of fun.

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Learn what photographers need to know to organize and edit their images with Photoshop CS4. Take a look at The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. It fits in your laptop bag and is very easy on your wallet.

Imagine a high quality softening filter that's available for every lens you mount on your camera. And the best part is, you never have to clean it -- that is if you're shooting with the recently announced Olympus E-30 12.3 MP DSLR. One of its unique features is a selection of Art Filters built right in to the camera, with my favorite of the bunch being the Soft Focus effect.

The processing power for the Art Filters are made possible with the new TruePic III+ digital processing engine built-in to the E-30. According to an Olympus:

"When an Art Filter is enabled, not only does the camera process the conventional attributes such as brightness, contrast, white balance, hue, and sharpness, it also controls a whole subset of attributes such as shading, softening, composite and distortion. This is like taking a picture through an optical glass filter. Because the exposure and filter effects are calculated and applied during the image capture stage, the integrity of the final image is maintained."

Since the camera is actually processing the image when it's in Art Filter mode, the output is a Jpeg. But if you're shooting Raw+Jpeg, you also get the original unaltered image as a Raw file (so you get a softened Jpeg and an unaltered Raw). Let's take a look at how this works. Here's the original Raw file from an outdoor portrait:

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Original Raw File with no effects applied.

Standard portrait taken with fill-flash and a 105mm lens. Now here's the same frame, but this time you'll see the Jpeg that was produced in Art Filter mode using Soft Focus. I haven't done any image editing to either the original or the Art Filter version. This is what came out of the camera.

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Soft Focus Art Filter produced in-camera with the E-30

Even though the file you're looking at is unaltered, I did open a number of these images up in Photoshop to see what was going on. Olympus has applied a number of clever image adjustments to produce this effect, including moving the black point to the right of the histogram to downplay contrast.

When you capture via an Art Filter, you use the E-30's Live View function, so you can see the effect on the LCD while you compose. You can also see the final product on the LCD in playback mode.

One of the benefits of of the Soft Focus Art Filter is that it saves you Photoshop time in post production. What you see on the camera's LCD is what you get. No image editing required. But if you don't mind a little post production, you can work on the Raw file to produce a third version of the shot.

I have a technique that I include in the recipe chapter of my The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers that uses the Gaussian Blur filter on a separate layer to soften the skin (p. 120). Here's that same shot using that post production approach.

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Gaussian Blur applied in Photoshop

Each image has its own look. The Gaussian Blur technique is more subtle, but requires post production. The Soft Focus Art Filter is a bit more pronounced, but well executed. Plus, it's applied in-camera. No post production required!

Other Art Filters included with the E-30 are: Pop Art, Pale and Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, and Pin Hole Camera. They are all fun, and they definitely get the creative juices flowing. I have more unique features of the Olympus E-30 12.3 MP DSLR that I'll cover in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned.

Photos by Derrick Story. Captured with the Olympus E-30 DSLR with the 14mm-54mm f/2.8-3.5 Olympus Digital zoom lens.


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Photoshop CS4 introduced some great new tools for photographers. I've put together a live presentation where I show you some of my favorite new features.

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This online event airs on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 10:30am PST/1:30pm EST. It is absolutely free. And if that wasn't good enough, all attendees receive 45-days complimentary access to The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers via Safari Books Online. That means you could download the trial version of Photoshop CS4, access my book, and decide for yourself if this upgrade is for you -- and none of this will cost you a penny.

Seats are limited, but you can register right now at this site. After the presentation, I'll have a Q&A session too. It's going to be a lot of fun. I hope you join me on Dec. 16!

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Learn what photographers need to know to organize and edit their images with Photoshop CS4. Take a look at The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. It fits in your laptop bag and is very easy on your wallet.

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I'm constantly yammering about using your camera phone as a data capture device for parking spaces, room numbers, license plates and such. But how about capturing small data, such as business cards and document paragraphs?

Well, iPhone 3G users are in luck. A new product from Griffin Technology called Clarify gives you a sliding close-up lens mounted in a durable case. When you want to record small-sized data, such as a business card, just slide the lens into place and take a picture.

Unfortunately, those of us with 1st gen iPhones will have to wait until we upgrade. Clarifi isn't available for older iPhones. If someone figures out a hack, be sure to post a comment.


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So, one of the objects of my desire, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, appears to be a wonderful camera in almost every area... except, it's now 21 megapixels. On its heals, Nikon announces the the 24 megapixel DX3. Wow, big resolution indeed. But is it resolution I need?

I'm seriously asking myself this question. Right now I'm shooting Raw with a Canon 5D that weighs in at 12 megapixels. I'm also testing a new Olympus E-30 DSLR, that also captures at 12 megapixels. When I'm on a shoot, I'm capturing lots of images. And over the course of a year, the tally is in the thousands.

These are pictures that I have to catalog, back up, process, etc. My current post production system can handle 12 megapixel files. But I know that a 20+ megapixel camera will indeed stress my system. The irony is that I rarely make a print bigger than 13"x19", and I just haven't needed more resolution. So the march of more megapixels is actually a barrier to purchase instead of an incentive.

Is it just me?


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Parking Number

Pictures I keep in my camera phone -- license plate numbers for my cars, menus from my favorite take-out restaurants, parking spot numbers, store hour signs -- just to name a few. I know I've talked about it before, but by way of reminder, take a picture of things you want to remember.

How many times have you had to walk back out to the car to get your license number when registering at a motel? Slightly annoying, isn't it? And what day of the week does that favorite Mexican restaurant close? Well, I know because I have its hours sign as a photo in my iPhone. And believe me, it's a lot faster looking that up than trying to get the restaurant's web site online.

The point is, your camera phone can be a helpful second brain. We're visual people anyway. Why not use the great assistant you carry in your pocket every day?


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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion.
The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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The latest version of Adobe Camera Raw (5.2) features some terrific new tools. Two of my favorites are the Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) and Snapshots. In this screencast, Snapshots and TAT in ACR 5.2: Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers Screencast 5, I demonstrate how darn useful Snapshots are for creating historical bread crumbs while adjusting an image in ACR. If you've ever used Snapshots in Adobe Lightroom, you know that you can save the state of an image as you're working on it, and return to that state whenever you want. I think this allows for more experimentation during image editing, knowing that you can always go back to a particular spot in the process.

I also show off the Targeted Adjustment Tool. It allows you to click and drag on a particular area of the photograph and target the adjustment for those tones or colors. Many people were excited when this appeared in Lightroom, and now we have it in Photoshop CS4 too.

You can learn more by watching the 6:45 minute screencast.


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Learn what photographers need to know to organize and edit their images with Photoshop CS4. Take a look at The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. It fits in your laptop bag and is very easy on your wallet.


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