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The 1.0 version of Lightroom will be available on Feb. 19, 2007 for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Early adopters who purchase the application before April 30 can do so for $199 US. After April 30, Lightroom will cost you $299. Adobe is also providing a free trial download of the 1.0 version on Feb. 19. Current users of the beta version of Lightroom will have to decide what to do by Feb. 28, because that's when the current beta expires.

Adobe engineers have been very busy during the final phases of application development. In addition to many performance and UI refinements, the shipping version includes some great new features. Two of my favorite new tools are "Targeted Adjustment" and "Clone and Healing." Both provide Photoshop-like power within Lightroom. Version 1.0 also includes support for 150 native Raw formats, including many of the latest camera models such as the Nikon D40, D80 and Pentax K10D.

Mac users will need OS X 10.4 and at least a PowerPC G4 processor, but I recommend an Intel Mac for best performance. On the Windows side, you'll need XP with Service Pack 2 and an Intel Pentium 4 processor or newer. Lightroom isn't certified for Vista yet, but will be soon.

There's good news on the Raw processing front too. Adobe Camera Raw 3.7 will also ship on Feb. 19, and this latest version is compatible with Lightroom, so the adjustments you make in ACR will look the same in Lightroom, and the other way around. This brings excellent compatibility between the two applications.

One of my favorite features in Lightroom is the ability to back up your masters to another hard drive at the time of import to Lightroom. By enabling backup at import, photographers can confidently erase their memory cards immediately, which is very important when working in the field.

Overall, Lightroom is a bold step forward for Adobe. If it's been the leading contender for your photo management tool, then I recommend that you take advantage of the early adopter discount and purchase it before April 30. I have lots more coverage in the coming weeks.

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Olympus just announced the Olympus SP-550 UZ, and this looks like a sweet camera. Features include: 18x wide optical zoom (equivalent to 28-504mm on a 35mm camera) 1:2.8-4.5, Dual Image Stabilization, 7.1 megapixels, 15 fps burst rate, and super macro mode. And yes, the SP-550 captures in Raw mode. I think this is going to be a camera that many photographers toss in their backpack for day hikes and family outings.

Microsoft Photo Info

Here's a slick new tool for photographers who use Windows: the Microsoft Photo Info allows photographers to add, change and delete common metadata properties for digital photographs from inside Windows Explorer. It also provides enhanced hover tips and additional sort properties for digital photographs in Explorer (in Details view). Photo Info is a free download and works on both XP and Vista platforms.

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People often discover unexpected bounty in their iPhoto libraries: duplicate images. This double-the-joy scenario can happen accidentally in a variety of ways, but the prognosis is always the same -- extra pictures taking up additional hard disc space.

Duplicate Annihilator by Brattoo Propaganda Software will identify mirror images and remove them from your library. Duplicate Annihilator scans your entire library and takes one of two actions. Either you can automatically move the dups to the trash can, or you can have them identified by the comment "duplicate" for easy searching and subsequent action. Either way, this $7.95 shareware available from Brattoo Propaganda Software is an affordable way to slim down your iPhoto library.

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iPhoto enables you to send pictures via email... sort of. As long as you use Mac Mail, Entourage, AOL, or Eudora, and realize that you can't send directly from iPhoto; it just opens your email app for you. And none of this helps all of those Gmail users out there.

Good news though. Thanks to Juan Ignacio Leon, Gmail fans can download iPhoto2Gmail and send pictures directly from iPhoto without ever opening their email client.

iPhoto2Gmail is an export plug-in that you access via File -> Export. All you have to do is select your picture(s) in iPhoto, open iPhoto2Gmail via Export, address your letter, and click the Export button. Your images will immediately be delivered via your Gmail account.

Currently you have the option to send full size pictures or scale them down to 800 pixels. But Juan says he'll have more resizing options in the next release. Plus, he's also working on integrating Gmail Contacts into the plug-in. Hopefully we'll see the new version before long.

In the meantime, you can download iPhoto2Gmail today and start sharing pictures. The application is donationware. So if you like it, please put a few bucks in the jar.

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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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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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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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