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With Photos for macOS, you can easily manage, enhance, and share a large library of images. And thanks to macOS Catalina and iPadOS, the latest version offers a new level of compatibility across devices, aligning the user experience as well the editing and AI-powered organization tools.

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In this course, Derrick Story takes you on a detailed exploration of this powerful app. Learn how to manage thousands of pictures quickly and easily, and edit and enhance the color, contrast, and compositions of images and video with the built-in editing tools. Derrick also explains how to export images, create slideshows, and prepare photos for printing. Along the way, he highlights the new features that make Photos for macOS Catalina such an important upgrade.

Here are some of the topics covered:

  • What's new in Photos for macOS and iPadOS
  • Creating new Photos libraries
  • The latest Editing Extensions for Photos
  • Importing images
  • Enabling iCloud syncing
  • Backing up a Photos library
  • Organizing images
  • Deleting, removing, and hiding images
  • Editing videos
  • Editing images
  • Working with pictures
  • Exporting images
  • Creating slideshows
  • Printing at home

The thing that I really like about this course, is that I show you the best of both worlds. Some techniques are better on the Mac, while other things, such as editing your videos, are actually better suited for the iPad version of Photos.

And regardless of which way you go, all of your work is automatically backed up to iCloud and shared across all devices. It's really a wonderful workflow. Check out the course intro video.

Get the most from Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS from Photos for macOS Catalina Essential Training by Derrick Story

If you haven't looked at photos for a while, then I think it's time to revisit. And if you are a Photos user, then I think you're really going to like this update.

How to Watch Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS

Learn everything you need to know about Photos for the Mac and iPad by checking out my latest course on LinkedIn Learning and on lynda.com. This course is perfect for Mac and iPad based photographers who shoot with iPhone, Mirrorless, and DSLR cameras. It covers both photography and movies. And if I say so myself, it's a lot of fun.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #716, Dec. 3, 2019. Today's theme is "Why Full Frame Photography Doesn't Have to Be Expensive." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

2019 was certainly the year for the resurgence of full frame photography. Sony, Panasonic, Sigma, Canon, and Nikon all released new big sensor cameras with the latest technology and hefty price tags. But a little further back on the shelf are some very interesting, highly capable cameras at a fraction of the cost. What about them? Are they worth our attention? What if we already own one? Should we keep it or upgrade? I grapple with all of those questions on today's TDS Podcast.

Why Full Frame Photography Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

Ansel Adams had his 4x5 for fine art work and our modern version is the full frame digital camera. The larger sensor helps capture more dynamic range and gives us better control over depth of field.

And if indeed we are using these cameras for our creative endeavors, they don't necessarily have to have the fastest frame rate or feature incredible autofocus. What we do need is excellent image quality. And if possible, at a price we can afford.

I'm going to start by listing the minimum specifications that I think a previous generation full frame camera should have. If you own one already, you can compare these numbers to yours. If one is on your wish list, then I'll share a couple of excellent bargains that not only have those specs, but have proven their value over time.

  • Image Resolution - 20 MP+
  • High ISO Performance - 6400+
  • Continuous Shooting Speed at Full Resolution - 5 fps+
  • Movie Recording - Full HD 1,920x1,080 / 30/25/24 fps+
  • Rear LCD - 3" with 900,000 pixel resolution+

Now, obviously, if you can get more spec for the dollar, then do it. But this configuration will allow you to do serious work in a variety of situations. Unfortunately, my Nikon D700 doesn't make the cut at 12 MP. I love using it for vintage lens testing, but I would hesitate to tap it for a fine art project. Which leads me to a post about the camera you may already have.

What If You Already Own an Aging Gem?

I read an interesting article by David Dowe titled, Ode to my DSLR: Why I Love the Nikon D610 where he writes:

"I want to write this review to share with others what I love about this camera - or, more universally, any older DSLR - and show it's possible to learn and grow with "older" cameras. As well, I want to solidify in my own mind the things I love about the camera. I have also come, through this experience with the D610, to appreciate having and growing with a single, durable, and capable camera body through years of daily use. I've learned to see cameras, rightly or wrongly, as medium-to-long term tools -- a creative partner with whom you grow. Where the more you get to know your camera and it's limitations, the more you get out of it, accomplishing your creative vision with as little resistance as possible. And whatever resistance is there, it becomes a means to push your own creative capabilities to flow like water around a rock in a stream."

The entire piece is excellent, accompanied by exquisite images of his girls growing up with him and their mom. He does flirt with Fuji mirrorless and is tempted by the new Nikons. But in the end he continues to work with his D610, and builds a compelling argument for doing so.

That's great that David has a Nikon D610. But what about a guy like me with an older D700?

Maybe I too should look at these following incredible values that fulfill my basic requirements. Both considerations are new cameras that are still in their original boxes. You can get even better deals on the used market.

Nikon D610

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Here's a deal that really caught my eye: A brand new Nikon D610 DSLR with Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G lens for $897. Then, toss in at no extra charge, a MB-D14 Multi Battery Power Pack, WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter, SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC Memory Card, Nikon Deluxe DSLR Digital SLR Camera Case (Black), and a downloadable licensed version of Skylum's Luminar 4. Yes, all of that for $897

Specs: 24 MP, 6 fps, base ISO 100-6400 (up to 25,600), HD movie recording, 3.2" 921K dot TFT LCD .

Sony Alpha a7 II

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Sony has been updating the Alpha a7 line frequently, and that's good news for early gen bargain hunters. Currently, you can get the Sony Alpha a7 II Mirrorless Digital Camera for $898.

Specs: 24 MP, Continuous shooting up to 5 fps at 24 MP to 50 exposures, ISO: 100 to 25600, HD movie recording, and 3" 1,228,800 dot tilting LCD

So, where does this leave us? The point that I want to make here is that the rate of change with enthusiast cameras has slowed to the point where cameras from 2012 onward are serious tools in the hands of an artist.

And if you currently have access to lenses that you would have to buy all over again in a different mount, then the savings can be tremendous, leaving you with more budget for experiences to capture with these cameras.

Something to think about as we head out of the year of full frame and into whatever is next.

Skillshare for Photographers

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Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creators, entrepreneurs, and curious people everywhere. You can take courses in photography, videography, audio production - you name it, they've got it. So whether you're picking up a new skill for your day job, figuring out your next side project, or pursuing a long-time passion, Skillshare has classes for you.

The photography courses are amazing. One that I recommend is "Fundamentals of Portrait Photography: Using Natural Light to Create Drama" by Justin Bridges, a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. And this is just one of many top notch titles on Skillshare.

Join the millions of students already learning on Skillshare today with this special offer for TDS listeners: Get 2 months free. That's right, Skillshare is offering The Digital Story community 2 months of unlimited access to thousands of classes for free. To sign up, go to skillshare.com/tds.

And a big thanks to Skillshare for sponsoring this show!

Capturing Moments with the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS

In a true convergence of traditional meets modern, the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens ($419) combines silky manual focusing with a beautiful optic also featuring a CPU chip for metadata and to assist with mode settings.

I have the Voigtlander mounted on my trusty Nikon D700, and because of the chip, I can shoot in Program, Aperture Priority, and Manual exposure modes, plus record the lens type and complete exposure metadata. And the images are beautiful!

There are variations of this lens, and some of those variations come in different mounts, but I prefer the most current SL IIS because of its luxurious scalloped focusing ring and outstanding optics.

You can easily adapt this optic to mirrorless cameras, although most likely without the benefit of the CPU chip. But on a Nikon DSLR, it is a joy for quiet candids and fine art work. And it's a wonderful value as well at $419.

Our LA Street Photography Experience is Coming this March

This 3-day event on March 13-15 explores classic Los Angeles locations and architecture. Our excursions will take us as far west as Venice Beach, as well as famous movie spots and the back streets of this fascinating Southern California area.

You will learn new techniques for safe and effective street photography, how to capture the vibe of great architecture, and enjoy some classic California cuisine along the way.

Olympus Educator, Mike Boening, is our co-instructor. Those of you who have worked with Mike at our SF Street Photography events know how much he brings to the table. Not only is he an official Olympus Educator, he's an accomplished street photographer, and he's going to bring gear for you to test and learn about.

If you want to join Mike and me this coming March, just visit the information and registration page, or go to www.thenimblephotographer.com and click on the Workshops link, or go to the Olympus site - no matter how you get there, Mike and I are looking forward to working with you this coming Spring.

Updates and Such

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. (The Digital Story is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.) And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creators, entrepreneurs, and curious people everywhere. Get two months of learning for free by visiting www.skillshare.com/tds.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Full frame photography has grabbed many headlines in 2019. And for good reason, it's exciting to mount a top quality prime lens and photograph the world in a completely different way than you can with smaller sensor devices. But the prices have soared to $2,400 and beyond for the privilege.

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But what if you could snag a highly rated full-frame body for about a third of that, and it included a prime lens, battery grip, and 64GB memory card? That would be sweet, right?

Take a look at the the deal of the year: A brand new Nikon D610 DSLR with Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G lens for $897. Then, toss in at no extra charge, a MB-D14 Multi Battery Power Pack, WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter, SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC Memory Card, Nikon Deluxe DSLR Digital SLR Camera Case (Black), and a downloadable licensed version of Skylum's Luminar 4. Yes, all of that for $897

DP Review concluded that, "The Nikon D610 brings full-frame capabilities to a larger audience while retaining most enthusiast-friendly features. Image quality at high ISO sensitivities is very good, and a wealth of customization options enables quick access to most shooting controls. The slight improvements and fixes over the D600 make it a strong competitor in this part of the market," and gave it a Gold Award. (March, 2014)

The Nikon D610 features:

  • 24.3MP FX-Format Sensor and EXPEED 3 Image Processor
  • Multi-CAM 4800 Autofocus Sensor
  • Scene Recognition System and Exposure Metering
  • Full HD 1080p Movie Recording
  • Built-In Pop-Up Flash and i-TTL Support
  • Dual SD card slots
  • 100 percent viewfinder coverage with high magnification
  • 3.5mm stereo mic and headphone inputs
  • Outstanding high ISO performance in both JPEG and Raw files
  • Excellent weather sealing
  • Automated time-lapse function built in
  • HDR capture built in
  • Shutter mechanism has been tested for 150,000 cycles and incorporates a self-diagnostic shutter monitor
  • Sold for $2,000 body only in 2014.

And all of this in a body that is relatively compact for a full frame camera.

D610-back.jpg

The MB-D14 Multi Battery Power Pack sells for $259, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens is $177 on sale, and the WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter sells for $55. Add those up, and they total $491. And that's not even counting the SanDisk 64 GB card. Subtract those from the $897 price tag, and that means you can get a new full frame camera for just a bit over $400. Use Payboo financing, and you won't even have to pay the sales tax.

If you have a cache of manual focusing Nikon lenses, you can use them as well on the D610. My favorites include the 105mm f/2.5 AI-s, 50mm f/1.4 AI-s, and the 35mm f/2.5 Series E. If you CPU register them on the camera, you will get basic lens metadata as well.

Bottom line is this: you don't have to pay $2,400, $3,000, or more for a top quality full frame digital camera. DSLRs are here to stay, as is the Nikon F mount. If you don't mind a top notch DSLR that was popular 5 years ago, this deal is worthy of your attention.

There are product links in this article that contain affiliate tags. In some cases, depending on the product, The Digital Story may receive compensation if you purchase a product via one of those links. There is no additional cost to you.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

If you have a co-worker, friend, or family member who loves photography, and you want to give them a holiday gift, something nice, but without spending more than $50 (and less if you can!), what do you do? How about this... Here's a sure-fire list of ideas that you can get delivered quickly enabling you to show up at the event with treasure in hand.

The recipient will first be impressed by your photography prowess, and second delighted with the item itself. Take a look and see what you think.

ultrapod.jpg

Pedco UltraPod Lightweight Camera Tripod - UltraPods are the best. They are light, compact, yet quite sturdy. And you can easily stash one in any camera bag, purse, or backpack for stabilized picture taking on the go. They're perfect for group shots (that you want to be in), night exposures, long exposures, video recording, and time-lapse photography. And if all of that wasn't good enough, you can get an UltraPod for just $9.95!.

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Tenba Protective Camera Wrap - 16" - These are so clever. Wrap your camera in one and any bag becomes a camera bag. You can stash your camera in a backpack, purse, suitcase... you name it, and it will be safe and accessible. This Tenba wrap features smooth interior lining of water-repellent silicone-coated rip-stop nylon with velcro corners and a soft knit, velcro-compatible fabric that allows it to be rolled, folded, or wrapped into many configurations. This smart camera or lens accessory will only set you back $17.95!.

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Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite for Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, and Other Cameras with Standard Hot Shoe - The cool thing about this flash is that it works on practically any camera that has a hot shoe, so you don't have even know what they shoot with. There are 8 steps of manual power output, making it perfect for off-camera portraits and home studio lighting. There isn't automated flash exposure, but that isn't an issue for many types of photography. And the best part is, this is quality gear for only $26.

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SUNCOO 16" Portable Shooting Tent with LED Light with 4-Color Background - It's easy to set up and use. (So you can keep it folded and stashed in the closet when not needed.) The bright, reflective material on the side walls provides ample light for photographing small to medium size items, and from a variety of angles as well. Perfect for eBay sellers and ETSY creators. It's suitable for both DSLR and smartphone shooting. And you can score this portable, foldable studio for only $49.99!.

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Panasonic Eneloop Power Pack with 10 AAs, 4 AAAs, and Advanced Battery Charger - What photographer (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't need rechargeable batteries? And these are some of the best. Not only do they maintain 70 percent of their charge after 10 years (when not in use), you can recharge these cells up to 2,100 times. They are perfect for flashlights, electronic flashes, camera motor drives, LED lighting, and more. This entire kit will rock anyone's world, and you can get everything for only $42.88!.

This is your opportunity to go beyond "the gift card" into territory once thought far too mysterious for any non-photographer. Have a great holiday season, and enjoy those whom you get to share it with.

There are product links in this article that contain affiliate tags. In some cases, depending on the product, The Digital Story may receive compensation if you purchase a product via one of those links. There is no additional cost to you.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #715, Nov. 26, 2019. Today's theme is "Photographer's Gift Guide - 2019 Edition" I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Photographers aren't the easiest bunch to buy for, that is, unless you have a fully-vetted gift guide at your disposal. And that's exactly what I'm going to share with you today - 5 items ranging from affordable to well, slightly more than that, each and every one will be a delightful surprise for the visual artist in your life, even if that person is you.

Photographer's Gift Guide - 2019 Edition

Feeling a little stumped for gift ideas this holiday season? Take a gander at this list.

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  • Nitecore P12 LED Tactical Pocket Flashlight ($42) - Built for durability, the light features an aluminum housing with a Type III hard-anodized black finish that resists scratching and corrosion. It is O-ring sealed to be IPX8-rated submersible to 6.6' and impact-resistant to 5'. A textured diamond pattern is machined into the handle to provide a sure grip, and there is a removable tactical ring that fits on the handle for use with a 'cigar-style' two-handed pistol grip. Using separately sold Nitecore mount and remote switch accessories, it can be used as a weapon light. The light can run on 1 x 18650 or 2 x CR123 li-ion rechargeable, or 2 x CR123 disposable batteries. There is reverse-polarity protection that prevents damage to the light's circuitry if the batteries are put in incorrectly.
  • Light-Panel.jpg

  • Nanlite LumiPad 11 Bi-Color Soft LED Panel ($49) - Handy for use on or off-camera, the LumiPad 11 Bi-Color Soft LED Panel from NanLite is a versatile 6.5 x 4.5 x 1.4" light source with solid control features at a price point that makes it a good choice for both part-time and full-time shooters. Its wide beam spread, and soft output are well-suited for portrait, wedding, group video, and photography, while its thin 1.4" profile allows placement where larger lights can't go. The light has color that's CRI-rated at 95 for accurate rendering and variable from 3200 to 5600K to meet any ambient light challenge or to blend in seamlessly with other fixtures. Light intensity is variable from 0 to 100%, while the fixture's quiet air-cooling is an asset, especially in sound-sensitive situations. The LumiPad 11 is ready for worldwide use via an optional 110-240 VAC power adapter, but it can also run on separately-purchased batteries when mains power is unavailable via its NP-F battery plate.
  • SanDisk 500GB Extreme Portable USB 3.1 Type-C External SSD ($89) - Designed for saving and editing high-resolution photos and videos, the 500GB Extreme Portable USB 3.1 Type-C External SSD from SanDisk provides users with up to 500GB of storage for their creative content work, as well as a 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 Type-C interface, which is also known as USB 3.1 Gen 2 and delivers read speeds of up to 550 MB/s. Additionally, this SSD is IP-55 rated and features resistance against water, dust, and shock. It can withstand a water flow of up to 30 kPA for 3 minutes, 1500 g of shock, and 5 gRMS of vibration @ 10-2000 Hz. It can also withstand drops of up to 6.5' on a concrete floor and temperature extremes, with operating temperatures ranging from 32 to 113°F and storage temperatures ranging from -4 to 158°F.
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  • FUJIFILM INSTAX SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2 with Instant Film Kit (Silver) ($94) - The silver FUJIFILM INSTAX SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2 allows you to print photos shot with a smartphone or tablet using FUJIFILM's free downloadable INSTAX SHARE app for Android and iOS. Each print measures 2.4 x 1.8" with up to 320 dpi resolution and prints in approximately 10 seconds. A reprint button lets you make additional copies. Choose from several templates and filters, and upload your images to social networking sites. The SP-2's battery recharges in approximately 90 minutes. This twin pack of FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini Instant Film contains 20 sheets of instant color film that is compatible for use with the INSTAX Mini series of cameras.
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  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Mirrorless MFT Digital Camera with 12-32mm and 45-150mm Lenses (Black) ($448) - This is a deal with $550 in savings making it more than half off. Complementing the imaging attributes (16MP sensor with dual stabilization), the camera also incorporates both a 2.76m-dot electronic viewfinder as well as a 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD, which has a tilting design to better enable working from high and low angles. Built-in Wi-Fi is also integrated into the design, which facilitates wireless image transferring and remote camera control from linked smartphones or tablets.
  • dji-mavic-mini.jpg

  • DJI Mavic Mini ($399) -The Mavic Mini from DJI is a compact drone that offers professional-quality results with no restrictions. Thanks to its small size, the Mavic Mini can fly where larger drones are legally not permitted, or where a drone license is required. This freedom of flight is combined with a stabilized 3-axis gimbal and sophisticated flight modes, which can achieve up to 12MP images, 2.7K Quad HD videos, and complex cinematic shots with just a touch in the DJI Fly app.
    Another advantage of the Mavic Mini's size is that it can stay in the air longer. The Mini drone features up to 30 minutes of flight time on a full battery charge. The included controller is designed to work with Android and iOS smartphones, letting you easily fly the drone while maintaining a low-latency HD video feed from the gimbal from up to 2.5 miles away. To help get started, DJI includes a flight tutorial in the DJI Fly app, making the Mavic Mini an ideal drone solution for beginners to professionals alike.

How I Became a 40mm Lens Guy

There's something about 40mms that's just perfect for me. I have a bit more breathing space for composing than I do with a 50mm optic. Yet, it's not too wide like I often experience with 35mm lenses. It's just right for this street photographer kind of guy.

But this revelation didn't come to me overnight. It evolved over years, beginning with a lens that wasn't 40mm at all: the Zeiss Tessar 45mm f/2.8 for my Contax film camera. I wanted this lens because it was a super compact pancake that would travel nicely on my Contax Aria. I loved it from the beginning, even though it wasn't the fastest at f/2.8, or quite as wide as a true 40mm. I still shoot with it today.

You can read the entire article here to see all the optics that I'm currently a fan of.

New Details for Our Upcoming LA Street Photography Experience

This 3-day event on March 13-15 explores classic Los Angeles locations and architecture. Our excursions will take us as far west as Venice Beach, as well as famous movie spots and the back streets of this fascinating Southern California area.

Our HQ will be in a cozy Santa Monica neighborhood, not far from the iconic Santa Monica Pier and the Metro Rail station. From there we'll ride the rail into the heart of LA urban culture, making stops along the way to explore. We will also spend a day photographing Venice Beach with all of its So Cal charm and charisma. What a dream for urban explorers!

You will learn new techniques for safe and effective street photography, how to capture the vibe of great architecture, and enjoy some classic California cuisine along the way.

Olympus Educator, Mike Boening, is our co-instructor. Those of you who have worked with Mike at our SF Street Photography events know how much he brings to the table. Not only is he an official Olympus Educator, he's an accomplished street photographer, and he's going to bring gear for you to test and learn about.

If you want to join Mike and me this coming March, just visit the information and registration page, or go to www.thenimblephotographer.com and click on the Workshops link, or go to the Olympus site - no matter how you get there, Mike and I are looking forward to working with you this coming Spring.

Do You Have a Film Camera that Needs a Good Home?

Over the last year, I've received donations from TDS members who have film cameras that need a good home. What I do is inspect the items, repair and clean as I can, then list them in TheFilmCameraShop where I can find a good home for them. If you're interested in donating, please use the Contact Form on TheNimblePhotographer site. And thanks for you consideration!

Updates and Such

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. (The Digital Story is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.) And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creators, entrepreneurs, and curious people everywhere. Get two months of learning for free by visiting www.skillshare.com/tds.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

How I Became a 40mm Lens Guy

PB250339.jpg

There's something about 40mms that's just perfect for me. I have a bit more breathing space for composing than I do with a 50mm optic. Yet, it's not too wide like I often experience with 35mm lenses. It's just right for this street photographer kind of guy.

But this revelation didn't come to me overnight. It evolved over years, beginning with a lens that wasn't 40mm at all: the Zeiss Tessar 45mm f/2.8 for my Contax film camera. I wanted this lens because it was a super compact pancake that would travel nicely on my Contax Aria. I loved it from the beginning, even though it wasn't the fastest at f/2.8, or quite as wide as a true 40mm. I still shoot with it today.

PB250336.jpg How it all started: The Zeiss 45mm Tessar on my Contax Aria.

The good experience (and photos!) with the Zeiss, led me to the doorstep of the Pentax 40mm f/2.8. There are two versions: the older Pentax-M manual focus model, and the newer Pentax-DA autofocus version. After some research, I learned that the AF version works great on full frame cameras as well. You've got to be kidding me! This was too good to be true. But it is. So I use it for both film photography on the ZX-5, and for digital work on the Pentax KP digital body.

What a beautiful optic! I love the width of composition I can achieve with the 40mm focal length, not to mention how compact the lens is. The only drawback, if you consider it one, is the maximum aperture of f/2.8. The journey continues, but what a lovely discovery these two lenses were. Again, I use them both today.

PB250340.jpg The Pentax 40mm-DA on a film Pentax ZX-5. This lens works wonderfully on both my analog and digital cameras.

About this time, I wanted something similar for my Micro Four Thirds digital bodies. And that's when I found the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. lens that now lives on my Olympus PEN-F. And I'm not exaggerating when I write, "lives there." The 20mm optic paired with a MFT sensor gives me that 40mm effective focal length that I love, but with a fast f/1.7 maximum aperture. Add to that the super-handy Olympus 2X doubler mode, I can switch to 80mm with just the press of a button. And as you would imagine, the images this tandem produces are beautiful!

PB250346.jpg Olympus PEN-F with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 prime.

Speaking of Olympus, I then discovered a lens that I didn't even know existed: the OM-40mm f/2.0 manual focus prime. I had read that it was very popular with journalists in the 35mm film days, and I can see why. It's super compact, fast, and sharp. And when you pair it with an OM camera, such as my OM-2S Program, you have an extremely nimble package that's a great street shooter.

These are a bit hard to find, but I scored a very nice one from a photographer in England. It is now my go-to lens for all of my OM cameras, and I particularly like it on the OM-2S. I hardly ever shoot with anything else.

PB250345.jpg Olympus OM-2S Program with Olympus Zuiko 40mm f/2.0 pancake prime.

And this leads me to the lens that I've yet to secure, but want badly: the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for Nikon F. Typically, I have the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 on my Nikon FG, FA, and FM cameras. But after falling in love with the 40mm focal length for my other shooters, the 50mm now just seems too confining.

So I'm saving up for this final 40mm in my collection. I can see it mounted on my black FG while I explore urban landscapes all across the planet. I'll let you know if I ever get my hands on the Voigtlander. That will be a happy day indeed.

The thing I like best about those 40mm optics is that I don't have to carry anything more than my camera with the one lens. I can shoot portraits, urban, landscape, and close-ups, all with the same nimble kit.

I still have, and use, other focal lengths for my professional work and for assignments that require wider, longer, or faster. But when it's a Sunday afternoon with just a favorite camera, it's the 40mm that's mounted on it.

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Whether it's a cherished photo from a family album or an artistic image captured on expired film, you can easily breath life into the picture while still retaining the unique qualities of analog photography. And the best part is if you're a Mac user, you already have the app to do so.

Original-Film-Shot-1600.jpg Del Monte Plant No. 1 captured in expired Kodak Gold 200 with a Nikon FM and Nikon Series E 50mm f/1.8 lens. I like the shot, but it was just a bit too off-color for my tastes. Photo by Derrick Story.

Finished-Editing-1600.jpg After just a few clicks in Photos for macOS, I found a sweet spot between the original image and one that I much prefer, but still retaining the original film feel.

Once the image is digitized, here are the 3 steps.

  • Auto Enhance - Photos does a very good job of analyzing film images and applying light-handed corrections to them. I always start with Auto Enhance (what looks like a magic wand), then fine tune from there.
  • White Balance - I prefer using White Balance with the eye dropper to Cast correction. I think WB is better suited to film. I select the Temp/Tint option in the WB popup menu, then click the dropper on a neutral tone area. You can adjust to taste from there.

  • Improve Detail - Definition is great for enhancing midtone contrast and sharpness. If you feel the image needs a bit more, then apply Sharpen as well.

At this point, you should be in great shape for sharing or making a print or two. If you want to keep fiddling, then take a look at the Retouch Brush for any dust spots, Vignette for directing the viewer's eye, and Noise Reduction if you want to tone down the grain a bit.

Your finished product will still have that lovely analog feel to it, but will be fine tuned to your tastes.

Coming Soon! Look for my training on LinkedIn Learning and lynda.com titled, Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS that shows you all the amazing things you can do with this new software. Hope to release this title in late November/early December. In the meantime, you can watch Photos for macOS Mojave right now. It will provide you with the info you need for making great slideshows!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #714, Nov. 19, 2019. Today's theme is "Luminar 4 - One Redesign Too Many?" I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

This week launched with a bang as Luminar 4 hit the streets early Monday morning. And even thought it's too early to judge if it's going to be a runaway success or roadkill, the redesigned Edit module has many version 3 users steering for the exits. We'll take a closer look today and try to determine if this is just a mere fender-bender or will result in a total disaster. Hope you enjoy the show.

Luminar 4 - One Redesign Too Many?

The minute I opened my first picture to edit in Luminar 4, I knew that comments that would immediately surface after its public release.

To be perfectly honest, Skylum chose to fix something that wasn't broken (the Edit module) and ignore the thing that really needed work (the Library module). My prediction is that this will not be a popular release with Luminar 3 users, many of whom will be angry and disappointed all at the same time.

003-AI-Structure-1600.jpg

So, what potentially has gone wrong here. While ignoring the under-powered Library module all together, they chose to redesign the Edit module, and as part of that process eliminate the flexibility of Workspaces. What this means is that the adjustment filters must remain in their pre-assigned categories and can't be grouped to individual needs.

To potentially offset this misstep, Skylum did introduce new filters and improved a few existing ones. Here's an overview of those.

  • New AI Sky Replacement filter
  • New AI Skin Enhancer filter
  • New Portrait Enhancer
  • New Smart Contrast
  • New AI Structure Filter
  • Improved LUT Mapping/li>
  • Improved Golden Hour Filter
  • Improved Denoise Filter
  • Improved Adjustable Gradient Filter

That's a lot of new stuff, and I was impressed by the AI filters. They're smart, and for the most part, work as advertised.

But I think existing users are going to start to run out of patience with Skylum's seemingly whimsical approach to UI design. In addition to the new AI filters, what Luminar 4 needed was a big step forward with the Library. And that just didn't happen.

And since Luminar 3 is Catalina compatible on the Mac platform, there's really no compelling reason to upgrade unless you feel the need for the new AI filters.

It appears that Skylum needs to recalculate their direction with future updates of Luminar if they want to hold on to their existing audience.

Luminar 4 is available now for $89 for new users and as a $69 upgrade for those who already own a license.

New Details for Our Upcoming LA Street Photography Experience

This 3-day event on March 13-15 explores classic Los Angeles locations and architecture. Our excursions will take us as far west as Venice Beach, as well as famous movie spots and the back streets of this fascinating Southern California area.

Our HQ will be in a cozy Santa Monica neighborhood, not far from the iconic Santa Monica Pier and the Metro Rail station. From there we'll ride the rail into the heart of LA urban culture, making stops along the way to explore. We will also spend a day photographing Venice Beach with all of its So Cal charm and charisma. What a dream for urban explorers!

You will learn new techniques for safe and effective street photography, how to capture the vibe of great architecture, and enjoy some classic California cuisine along the way.

Olympus Educator, Mike Boening, is our co-instructor. Those of you who have worked with Mike at our SF Street Photography events know how much he brings to the table. Not only is he an official Olympus Educator, he's an accomplished street photographer, and he's going to bring gear for you to test and learn about.

If you want to join Mike and me this coming March, just visit the information and registration page, or go to www.thenimblephotographer.com and click on the Workshops link, or go to the Olympus site - no matter how you get there, Mike and I are looking forward to working with you this coming Spring.

Souping Up My Olympus E-M5 Mark II to Feel More Like an E-M1X

I wanted to do some extended shooting with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, so I dug out the HLD-8 Power Battery Holder, which adds a second battery. After getting both parts attached, I experienced a noticeable Deja Vu moment. The rig felt a lot like the OM-D E-M1X that I had recently tested.

Since I hadn't used this older kit for a while, I had forgotten how wonderful the Power Battery Holder felt and operated. It provides shutter buttons with rotating collars in both horizontal and vertical positions, plus two additional function buttons for the vertical grip. There's even a second dial in the vertical position, so you have twin dials regardless of the orientation. The additional BLN-1 battery holder is much more accessible than the port on the bottom of the camera. And you gain a headphone jack as well. It's very comfortable and balanced in both positions. Why didn't come back to this long time ago?

Do You Have a Film Camera that Needs a Good Home?

Over the last year, I've received donations from TDS members who have film cameras that need a good home. What I do is inspect the items, repair and clean as I can, then list them in TheFilmCameraShop where I can find a good home for them. If you're interested in donating, please use the Contact Form on TheNimblePhotographer site. And thanks for you consideration!

Updates and Such

Inner Circle Members: A big thanks to those who support our podcast and our efforts!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. (The Digital Story is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.) And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

Affiliate Links - The links to some products in this podcast contain an affiliate code that credits The Digital Story for any purchases made from B&H Photo and Amazon via that click-through. Depending on the purchase, we may receive some financial compensation.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

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The Nimbleosity Report

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Luminar 4 Review - The Focus Is on AI

Most folks who follow Skylum have known that Luminar 4 has been in the works for some time. We've seen teasers for the new AI-powered tools and probably even seen posts about pre-order offers.

But only when you download the real thing and begin to work on a picture do you realize that this is a much different animal. And depending on how you felt about Luminar 3 (personally, I liked it a lot), will color your opinion about version 4, especially in Edit mode.

Redesign of the Editing Side Panel

001-Lum4-Edit-Mode-1600.jpg Edit Mode in Luminar 4. Photo by Derrick Story.

Edit-Mode-Normal-Lum3-1600.jpg Editing Mode in Luminar 3.4.1, which is compatible with macOS Catalina. Photo by Derrick Story.

Other than the addition of new adjustment sliders that Skylum calls Filters, the redesigned Editing Side Panel is the thing that really jumps out at you. All of the Filters are now permanently seated within 5 categories: Essentials, Creative, Portrait, Pro, and Legacy.

When I write "permanently seated," I'm not kidding. You will need to memorize where your favorite filters are in order to keep a smooth workflow. For example, one of my favorite filters is the Orton Effect. I use it for many different types of images. It's now located in the Portrait category. I can't move it to Essentials or Pro, and I can't create my own workspace with just the filters that I like. (Workspaces are gone, BTW.)

Newcomers to Luminar probably won't give this much thought. But those who have been using it regularly are in for an adjustment. I'll be curious to see what the reaction is from existing users. Generally speaking, software companies want to avoid radical UI changes from version to version. Just ask Adobe about that.

The Tools (Crop, Erase, Clone) have been moved from the top Editing Toolbar to the Editing Side Panel. This makes sense to me, and I like the placement of each in the Sidebar. All of the major editing functions are now in one location. A simplified Crop button does still reside in the top Toolbar, but I'm guessing that Skylum did that so you could access it in Library mode as well.

Interesting New AI Filters

AI SKY REPLACEMENT

Whether or not you're a fan of artificial intelligence for image editing, some of these new filters are worth experimenting with just to see what can be done these days. A good place to start is with the AI Sky Replacement filter found in the Creative category.

002-AI-Sky-Replacement-1600.jpg AI Sky Replacement Filter - The original sky is on the left and the AI new sky is on the right. Photo by Derrick Story.

This filter couldn't be easier to use. And that's saying something for how powerful it is. Open an image with a bland sky, go to the creative category and click on the AL Sky Replacement title. The panel will open to a "sky selection" menu and a handful of sliders. I recommend clicking on Advanced Settings to reveal even more sliders. They're all useful.

You can choose from the abundance of sky images that are preloaded in the app, or you can point Luminar to your own sky shots. (This might be a good reason to start collecting more of those as opportunities present themselves.) Once you make your selection, Luminar knows where to put it. You can then play with the various sliders to get the enhancement exactly the way you want.

One word of caution: make sure the direction of lighting in the sky matches the lighting on the ground. There are a lot of sharp-eyed photographers out there who will call out a mismatch. Avoid that, and you can have a lot of fun with this creative filter.

AI STRUCTURE

This is potentially a very useful filter because you can not only increase the structure in an image, but you can decrease it as well.

003-AI-Structure-1600.jpg AI Stucture is found in the Essentials category. Photo by Derrick Story.

A natural use is for portraits because the artificial intelligence helps protect skin detail while giving you the ability to enhance the environment. In my testing, the skin tones were protected when you increased structure. But if you decreased structure, the skin tones were softened as well.

I think I'm fine with this programming decision. But I think it would be best if the skin were not affected at all, and let the photographer address that with the other tools in the app. That being said, it's a very useful adjustment, especially if applied with restraint. I like it a lot.

New Portrait Tools

A common request from Luminar users was for better portrait adjustment tools. Luminar 4 should check that box. It contains an entire panel of interesting stuff for our people pictures.

004-Portrait-Tools-1600.jpg The Portrait Enhancer panel contains a dozen tools for adjusting your people shots. Photo by Derrick Story.

The Portrait category leads off with AI Skin enhancer that does precisely what you would expect. Move a slider and the skin looks better. Check the box next to AI Skin Defects Removal (I may have selected a different name for this), and blemishes are whisked away as well.

Next in line is Portrait Enhancer. Here you have a collection of a dozen sliders that range from enhancing eyes, to adding more color to lips, to brightening teeth. Everything worked as advertised. Again, I advise showing restraint, however.

And finally, there's High Key and Orton Effect, which aren't new, but now reside here.

The Library and Stuff

With all the changes in Luminar 4, I was surprised to see that the Library was virtually untouched.

005-Library-1600.jpg The Library view in Luminar 4. Photo by Derrick Story.

The Skylum team seems to be placing all their bets on the AI technology for image adjustment and hoping the existing library doesn't get in the way. Since many Lightroom and Photos for macOS photographers use Luminar as a plugin/editing extension (where there library is a non-issue), then focusing on AI-powered tools seems like a good call.

However, if Luminar wants to gain ground as a standalone photo management/enhancement application, Skylum at some point will have to improve the functionality of the Library.

On a positive note (that I believe is related to this), Luminar 4 still supplies plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, and an Editing Extension for Photos for macOS. That's a great call! I'm not sure what this means for the future of Luminar Flex, however.

Performance

On my 2014 MacBook Pro running Mojave, Luminar 4 had reasonable performance. In Preferences, I set aside 10 GB for caching, and I allowed Luminar to tap the graphics processor (a new preference option). There were some hiccups, but for the most part, the application was steady. It also ran well on my 2017 iMac.

There's still room for improvement on the performance front. But I feel like Luminar 4 is going in the right direction.

Side Notes

One of my favorite filters, Image Radiance, is no longer available. However, the Mystical Filter, in the Creative Group, feels a lot like Image Radiance. Golden Hour, Denoise, and the Adjustable Gradient filters have all been reworked and improved.

After I upgraded my Luminar 3 library to Luminar 4, I was able to open it again in Luminar 3. Not surprisingly, the edits I made in Luminar 4 weren't visible in Luminar 3, but all of the images were there.

Bottom Line

Photographers new to Luminar will most likely be impressed with its cornucopia of intelligent adjustments and its ease of use. And for a relatively modest investment of $89 for first-time customers, it's a good value.

Those who like Luminar 3, either as a standalone app or a plugin, might want to keep an open mind when considering investing $69 for an upgrade to Luminar 4. On one hand, some of the new tools such as AI Sky Replacement and AI Structure could be worth the price of the upgrade alone. On the other, however, those fundamental changes to the editing interface might be frustrating, while the Library module received no love at all.

The good news is, there's a 7-day trial version available, so you can decide for yourself.

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As a photographer, I think it's important to document the world around me. And when something big happens, even more so. Here's a recent example from the fires in Northern California last month. Let me take a few steps back.

Once we were allowed back home after the mandatory evacuation for the Kincade Fire, we spent the first week getting our lives in order. But once the daily rhythm returned, it was time to explore the neighborhood with camera in hand.

chalk-hill-2048.jpg The entrance to Chalk Hill Winery. Fujifilm XF-10. Photo by Derrick Story.

The first place I wanted to see was Chalk Hill Winery, just north of our house. At the peak of things, they had the fire bearing down on them as it traveled south from Windsor. Even though there were major burn areas at the winery (such as the entrance as shown above), fire fighters managed to protect the big structures. Chalk Hill released this statement about the close call:

""From all of Foley Family Wines, we would like to extend a sentiment of extreme gratitude for the heroic efforts of all first responders in fighting the Kincade fire. With one winery located in Geyserville [Foley Sonoma], and three on Chalk Hill Road [Lancaster, Roth and Chalk Hill], we certainly feared for the worst. We are relieved and grateful to report that, although a few of our properties suffered damage to non-essential buildings and equipment, all employees are accounted for and safe while our wineries escaped major damage."

Just down the road and heading South back to my place, I saw a number of homes that had been saved. Some of them had burn areas all around, but the structures themselves were intact. These were incredible testaments to the tenacity of the fire fighting crews.

PB150737-v2.jpg Home spared from the fire. Notice the burned trees directly behind the house (that is not Fall color!) and the scorched area out front to the right. Olympus PEN-F with 14-42mm zoom. Photo by Derrick Story.

Further South on Faught Road, not far from Shilo Regional Park, there was an area where the trees were cut down to create a fire break. Some of them were burning at the time.

IMG_5468.jpg Trees cut to create a fire break. iPhone X in panorama mode. Photo by Derrick Story.

In the neighborhoods that were saved, there are signs everywhere thanking the first responders for their courageous efforts. We saw reports that showed how fighters would line up their trucks nose to tail to draw a line to protect a neighborhood. People who live here understand how good these professionals are at their jobs.

IMG_5450.jpg Neighborhood Thank You Sign. iPhone X. Photo by Derrick Story.

I keep a visual diary with notes using Day One Classic that's loaded on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. One of the things that I like about keeping the diary is that it motivates me to get out and photograph the world around me, plus keep track of day to day milestones and family.

As much as I love travel photography and assignment work, documenting my personal life and the world outside my front door is just as satisfying. That being said, I hope I won't need to take any more post-fire pictures for a long, long time.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.