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You get a lot of camera for under $200 with either of these new models. The A550 is a 7.1 megapixel compact with a 4x optical zoom lens and a 2-inch LCD screen. It has a DIGIC II processor under the hood and tons of features. Suggested retail will be $199 US.

The new PowerShot A460 digital camera features 5.0 megapixel resolution with a 4x optical zoom lens and a 2-inch LCD screen, up from 4.0 megapixels and a 1.8-inch LCD screen on last year's PowerShot A430 model. It also uses the DIGIC II processor, and will retail for $149 US.

You can get more information from the official Canon press release. But based on the specs, stellar track record of this line of cameras, and competitive pricing, these cameras should be very popular.

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I was happy to find a thoughtful weblog post on one of my favorite subjeccts: At what point do you delete your undesirable images? In his post, To Delete or Not, That Is the Question..., Carl Weese says, "To me it seems prudent to avoid deletion in camera. I also reformat the memory card in-camera, after downloading and making two copies of all the files on either hard drives or optical media. Call it belt'n'suspenders."

Carl discusses additional reasons not to be too delete-happy, even once the images have been loaded on to the computer and examined on the monitor. My personal view on this is to only delete the outright unusable dogs and archive the marginal stuff. A slightly underexposed, badly composed image of Uncle Bob might not mean much today, but 10 years from now could be a valuable, touching memory.

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A terrific group of podcasters congregated at the Apple Store on Thursday, Jan. 11 to discuss nearly every facet of this popular medium. I was lucky enough to join the panel that included Adam Christianson, Leo Laporte, Alex Lindsay, Scott Bourne, Merlin Mann, Andy Ihnatko, and many more. You can listen to that discussion by downloading the Podcaster Meetup on the Maccast web site.

On a separate podcasting note, the Digital Story episode that typically runs on Tuesdays will be delayed until Thursday. But it will be worth the wait. I have an interview with the incredible Colleen Wheeler who gives us an inside look at photography book publishing and discusses her work with famous photographers such as Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland, Eddie Tapp and more. It's a terrific conversation that I'm sure you'll enjoy... but you have to wait until Thursday.

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ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Macworld 2007 was about digital media -- photography, video, and yes, tons of audio. We saw Apple TV officially introduced at the Steve Jobs keynote, a brief solo performance by John Mayer, live podcasts such as MacBreak Weekly and the iLifeZone, and a special podcaster meetup at the Apple Store.

I was participating in many of these events and brought along my trusty Canon Rebel XT to capture a few close-up glimpses. I had a decent seat for the Jobs keynote (being on the conference faculty), and sat-in on the MacBreak show and the podcaster meetup.

I've posted the gallery here with the accompanying metadata for you to enjoy.

Picture: John Mayer performing at the Steve Jobs keynote. Photo by Derrick Story.

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Sponsor Note...

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.

Nikon Shows New Capture NX at Macworld

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Nikon was proudly demoing the Universal Binary version of Capture NX at Macworld this week. This latest version provides minor enhancements and bug fixes, but most importantly it runs an the new Intel versions of Macs.

Rob Galbraith reports that "in the brief demonstration we saw, the speed at which the program could render a D2X NEF as it opened was dramatically faster than the current PowerPC version of the program on the same machine." He also wrote: "Also new in the upcoming Capture NX update are larger histogram and Curves/Levels palettes, as well as various bug fixes and performance enhancements, says Nikon USA's Mike Rubin. A ship date hasn't been set for the new version of Capture NX, nor is the company revealing what the version number will be. When it's released it will be a free, downloadable update for licensed users. The update will be to both the Mac and Windows versions of the application."

You can read the entire Nikon press release on Ron's site. This is great news for Nikon shooters who capture in Raw and work on Macs.

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iPhone as a Camera

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One of the things that David Pogue commented on yesterday (David being one of the few living beings outside of Apple to operate the new iPhone) was how marvelous the LCD screen was on the iPhone. He said that when you use the 2-megpixel camera and look at the world though that screen, it was as big and open as anything he's seen on a consumer camera. Given that you can transfer those images easily via email, the Web, and other online tools via iPhone, this is one of the most "connected" cameras in the world -- WiFi, Edge, Bluetooth.

We don't know yet if the final version of iPhone (due out in June after FCC approval) will include video, but my guess is yes with H.264 compression. This could be a very sweet little point and shoot camera that you always have with you. More to be seen...

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Casio has found a way to squeeze a 7X optical zoom in a pocketable 7.2 megapixel beauty. The just-announced EXILIM Hi-Zoom EX-V7 also features blur reduction technologies with the new CCD shift system, the redesigned EXILIM Engine 2.0 image processor, and now captures movies with H.264 encoding (which should be QuickTime compatible right out of the camera).

Casio is showing off the camera at the CES show in Las Vegas, NV. It will retail for $399 or less when available in March. This is a compact to keep our eyes on as the hands-on reviews begin to surface.

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Boinx Software has released a public beta of the redesigned FotoMagico to garner user feedback before making the final version available. Major improvements in 2.0 include the ability to create a standalone player for your presentations, watermark capability, fresh user interface, and performance enhancements.

Oliver Breidenbach of Boinx Software comments, "FotoMagico 2 enters the Public Beta testing phase. FotoMagico 2 represents a significant step forward by introducing high resolution, standalone slideshow players that can be shared with people who do not have a license for FotoMagico. In order to test this new capability thoroughly, FotoMagico 2 is now available as a public beta with a final release planned for March, 2007."

You can download the public beta today and give it a spin. Be sure to let Boinx know what you like and what needs improvement.

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iPhoto Slideshow Tips and Tricks

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iPhoto's slideshow authoring tools have come a long way since the early days of the application. You can author very good presentations without ever leaving your digital shoebox... that is if you know a few tricks.

In a recent article I wrote for Macworld Magazine titled, Create stunning slide shows, I show many of the techniques that I've perfected over the years to create terrific presentations with my iPhoto images. If you're an iPhoto user, you might want to give it a read.

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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An Australian scientist has calculated how many frames you need to record during a group shot to give you the best odds that at least one image will have everyone with their eyes open. In the article, Picture Perfect: How to Make Blink-Free Holiday Photos, physicist Piers Barnes calculates the average number of times a person blinks (10 per minute), how long a blink lasts (250 milliseconds), camera shutter speed (8 milliseconds in a typical setting), and the number of people in the group.

The article goes on to provide some rules of thumb for shooting in both good light and bad. It's interesting stuff, and the formulas work out to about the same as experience has taught me over years of working weddings -- I average about 5 frames for most group shots.

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