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I've been testing the Crumpler Thirsty Al pouches for my compact Canon SD 700 IS, and it looks like I'm not going back.

The Thirsty AL series comes in 5 sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, and extra large. I've been using the small size for the the super compact SD 700. The pouches are well made combining Neoprene front and sides with super tough nylon 900D flap, spine, and back -- and 300D ripstop lining. The Velcro-secured top flap also contains a pocket to carry a spare memory card -- very handy for those of us who shoot movies as well as still photos. The back belt loop is also secured by Velcro and has a lanyard loop too. I've used the loop with my The Digital Story D-Ring keychain to secure the camera while on the go.

Since most compact cameras don't come with cases, I'd recommend this series of pouches as a thoughtful accessory. They come in five different color combinations (I'm using black at the moment), are quite handsome, very well made, and are intelligently designed. You can buy the Crumpler Thirsty Al pouches on Amazon for about $15 US.

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Do you have your Juxtaposition entry ready for the November Photo Assignment? If not, there are only a few more days to send in your image. (For details, see the Submissions page on The Digital Story web site.) The entry deadline for the November Photo Assignment is Thursday, 11-30-06.

I've included a sample shot here to help chum the waters. One of the favorite snoozing spots for the O'Reilly company cat is atop the fish aquarium in reception. Sometimes she even dangles a paw down, which is certainly disturbing to the aquarium inhabitants. This juxtaposition of cat and fish makes for an interesting composition.

The world is filled with this type of lyrical tension. Best of luck finding one that resonates with you.

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Many consumers know about Sony's recall of laptop batteries that it manufactured for its computers, as well as those for Apple and Dell. But the Japanese electronics giant has also posted another CCD Service Advisory.

According to Imaging Resource, the problem is caused by "internal wiring in the CCD sensor comes loose at high temperatures and humidities, and causes the camera to stop recording images, or to record distorted images. During the last round of service advisories we heard that the problem may have related to moisture penetrating into epoxy chip packaging. Interestingly, the Japanese PC Watch website states in its coverage of the news that this time around, the affected sensors use ceramic packaging, which generally offers better environmental sealing. According to PC Watch, moisture can potentially penetrate the ceramic packaging nonetheless, entering via the gluing surface."

Affected cameras recently added to the list include: Cyber-shot DSC-F88, DSC-M1, DSC-T1, DSC-T1, DSC-T3, DSC-T33, DSC-U40, and DSC-U50. We're still waiting for news from Sony USA for next steps.

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Color Management on the Go

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"As important as it is, I know lots of people that are serious about their images that don't profile their display. And I think there are two reasons for this: 1) Color management is a complex field, and it's full of lots of big terms and complex numbers; and 2) Good profiling hardware has typically been expensive. It's been coming down in price over time, but still, to get the good stuff hasn't been cheap. Combine these two points and most people, it seems, do nothing," says James Duncan Davidson in his article, Color Management is Essential.

The good news is that James goes on in his article to show you both an affordable and easy way to color manage your computer. It's definitely worth a read.

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Canon had dropped the price on the Rebel XT by $100 US, now offering the kit with the 18-55mm lens for $699 -- $100 more than Nikon's just announced D40. Unlike the D40, you can buy just the Rebel XT body without kit lens and save another $100.

The Canon XT has an 8-megapixel sensor compared to the 6-megapixel Nikon D40. But the D40 has a 2.5" LCD compared to the 1.8" version in the Rebel XT.

No matter how you slice it, this price reduction for the XT and the emergence of the D40 are good news for consumers.

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Holiday Gift Guide on Imaging Resource

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Imaging Resource has published a nifty Holiday Gift Guide that features a variety of compact cameras, DSLRs, and lots of accessories. The guide is easy to browse, includes good info, and gives pretty accurate pricing estimates. Just a few of the cameras mentioned include the Sony T50, Canon SD800 IS, Panasonic LX2, Fujifilm S6000fd, and the Panasonic FZ7. Bottom line: it's virtual window shopping for the photo enthusiast.

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Nikon D40 - DSLR for the Masses?

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The just announced Nkon D40 ships in December and is priced at $599 US with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. This is the most affordable top-brand DSLR kit on the market, and it's well within the reach of most enthusiasts.

The 6-megapixel sensor coupled with the same processing engine as the Nikon D200 has a 2.5" LCD monitor and can shoot in burst mode at 2.5 frames per second. In a hands on preview at DP Review, Phil Askey said this comparing it to the more expensive D50:

"On the plus side you get ISO 3200 equiv. (HI 1), the ever useful customizable Auto ISO, a larger viewfinder view, shorter shutter lag and viewfinder blackout, a larger LCD monitor, a considerably nicer user interface, SDHC support, a new image processing engine, unlimited JPEG continuous shooting, in-camera retouching (including D-Lighting) and of course a smaller and lighter body."

Could this be the DSLR that every serious amateur owns? We'll find out in December.

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I recently sat down with Joe Schorr, Aperture Product Manager for Apple, and talked about the inception and evolution of Apple's pro level photo management application. Joe has been a part of the project from the very early days, and he's helped Aperture reach its one-year birthday in good shape.

In my first interview with Joe, he gives us some background on his role, then he discusses the changes to the application itself. Then, in the second interview, he drills down into some of the new features found in Aperture 1.5

I recorded these podcasts in Joe's office on the Apple campus in Cupertino. It's rare that an Apple employee gets to talk freely in front of a microphone, and I think Aperture fans will enjoy these candid convesations.

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Shower Cap Camera Protector

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In just about every hotel bathroom, you'll find one of the handiest photo accessories for inclement weather -- the shower cap. And more often than not, you leave that shower cap behind upon checkout.

Next time grab it. Simply punch a hole in the center of the cap for your camera lens to extend through, and you have an all weather protection system for your compact or small DSLR. The elastic band of the cap keeps it positioned snugly around your wrists while the cap protects the camera from all sides. You can work the controls, view the LCD monitor, and take pictures in the rain just as easily as on a sunny day.

This opens new opportunities for your photography. Rainy conditions often make dramatic shots with saturated colors. So grab a shower cap and hit the (wet) streets.

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New Site for Aperture Users

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I've been working on a new site that was recently launched at PhotoPlus Expo. Inside Aperture is a gathering place for photographers who want to learn Apple's photo management application inside and out.

The basic features of this destination include the blog that highlights a new daily post from one of six experts, plus me :) For example, I recently explained how to Create Your Own White Balance Presets. This tip enables you to create a list of presets that you can cycle through when determining the right white balance setting for your Raw files, just like you can in Adobe Camera Raw. We have stuff like this go up every day.

I'm also interviewing people who are directly involved with Aperture, such as Joe Schorr (product manager) and posting those discussions as podcasts on the site. Plus, there are articles and other chunks of useful information to help you master one of the best photo management tools to ever come down the pike.

I might also add, we're looking to add more contributors to the site. So if you have a few Aperture tricks up your sleeve that you'd like to share with others, be sure to drop me a line.

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