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"In August 2007, Nikon invited technology journalists from around the globe - including us - to take part in the D3 and D300 launch announcements in Tokyo, as well as tour the company's Sendai, Japan manufacturing facility where the D3 is being built," writes Rob Galbraith. "While at Sendai Nikon, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside factory buildings, but Nikon has now supplied us with photos showing some of the manufacturing activities we saw when there, including the D3 being assembled."

Rob then displays a series of images from inside the factory that I find fascinating. If you've ever wondered what it looks like inside the facility where top of the line Nikon bodies are assembled, then you should take a look at this article.

Image of a Nikon D3 Image Sensor Unit provided by Nikon USA.


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The first thing I noticed when I held the Canon PowerShot G9 was how compact it truly was. I hadn't owned a "G" series camera since the G2, and my, how things have changed.

I was drawn back to Canon's top of the line compact series for a few reasons. First, the G9 supports Raw (.CR2) format. This is a deal breaker for me. No Raw, no dice. In my opinion, every shot I take has potential to end up in a magazine or book, and I have to be able to squeeze every ounce of quality from the image. So even my point and shoot needs to support Raw. The G9 wisely does so.

Next, I very much like the control layout of the G9. The mode dial is on the top right and has all the usual options (P, AV, M, etc.), plus C1, and C2. These are custom configurations that I can set, and they are a godsend. I have C1 set to Raw+Jpeg and C2 set to 16:9 Jpeg. I can switch entire configurations with just a twist of the dial. Wonderful.

On the left top is the ISO dial, that's right, you get a knobby wheel for your ISO, and in the middle is a hotshoe with dedicated contacts. As the saying goes, you had me at C1. This is an amazing top deck.

Best of Current Technology

Inside the camera there is Face Technology, Optical Image Stabilization, FlexiZone AF focusing, customizable self-timer, and independent audio recording saving to .wav format. It's true, you can use the built-in sound recorder to capture at 44.100 kHz, 22.050 kHz, or 11.025 kHz. Quality is still limited by the microphone positioned on top of the camera, but this is a very handy addition to the camera that I've already used a number of times.

And just a note about Face Technology, it really works. It's perfect for a compact camera that's often used for candids. Just compose the scene, and the technology finds the faces in it, sets the focus, and even adjusts the exposure, including flash. You have to try it to believe how well it works. I'm missing fewer shots as a result of this technology.

On the Back


On the back of the G9, you have an amazing LCD screen. At first I was disappointed that it didn't swivel like the one on my G2. But I discovered that it doesn't have to. You can hold it over your head or beneath your knees, and still see the picture. This is a serious LCD. Plus, it's a gigantic 3" in size. I added a transparent protection sheet to mine because it's so big I have a hard time not brushing it up against the abrasive world.

Another notable feature on the back is the silver "image review" button positioned at the top right of the LCD. Any time you want to peek at the pictures on your memory card, just push the button. It doesn't matter if the camera is powered up or not, the review button works. This is a great convenience that I wish all cameras had.

And What About Those Pictures?

If you have the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, you can process Canon's G9 .CR2 Raw files. My guess is that Apple will follow with support for Aperture, iPhoto, and Preview soon. Below is a full frame image shot at ISO 100 in Raw, and then a 100 percent detail section from that image so you can examine noise and sharpness.



The first thing you'll notice is that image noise is more apparent at ISO 100 that you're used to seeing from DSLR images. My feeling is that the 12 megapixel sensor that is smaller (1/1.7) than an APS sensor (found on Digital Rebels, 40Ds, etc.) is responsible for the noise (along with the accompanying electronics). At ISO 400, the noise increases more, and at 800 and 1600 it's too obtrusive for my tastes. Prints made from files captured between 80 and 400 look terrific. Detail, color balance, and dynamic range are excellent.

I would have preferred less resolution, maybe 8 megapixels or 10, as a tradeoff for less noise, if that equation even applies. Either way, as long as I keep the ISO at 400 or less, I've been happy with the prints. Beyond 400, you're taking your chances.

Final Thoughts

Each day I use the PowerShot G9, I like it more. I wish it had better noise control and 16:9 movies at high definition. But that's about it for the wish list. This camera is a joy to shoot with, is very customizable, renders both good movies and stills, and is beautiful to look at.

The PowerShot G9 is not a substitute for a DSLR. But, in my opinion, it is a capable complement. When I walk out the door with the G9 in my pocket, I feel prepared to capture what the world throws my way.

The PowerShot G9 is available for $476 US. And don't forget to spring for the LA-DC58H adapter that allows you to add conversion lenses and 58mm filters. It's only another $22. If you want more detail about the camera itself, here are the full specifications.

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Want to learn new photography tips and tricks firsthand? This is your opportunity to discover shooting techniques that professionals have been using for years.


Digital Photography Made Amazing is a four-hour exploration of how to make your camera record beautiful images just like those you see in magazines and books.

If you can't make this Saturday's workshop, I've also created an Events Calendar so you can peek ahead, especially if you're planning a trip to Northern California.

If you see something on the Events Calendar that you like, you can email me first to confirm the date and find out additional details. My contact information is on the Submissions page.

If you are around the Santa Rosa area this weekend, you can sign up online.

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When Face Detection became the big buzz technology at PMA earlier this year, I, like many photographers, was skeptical. But I've been using the new Canon PowerShot G9 that includes Canon's latest version of this technology, and I'm impressed with how well it works for both focusing and exposure.

I like it because when shooting people candids; it's faster than my previous method of focusing on a person, holding down the shutter button halfway to lock the exposure, then recomposing. That method worked, but I lost good shots because it took a few seconds to execute. Face Detection is quicker, and using it enabled me to get more into the flow of the shoot.

What's really nice is that Face Detection also calculates exposure. This is particularly helpful for flash shots of people in low light. Typically cameras would overexpose the subject unless you used flash exposure lock (again time consuming). Face Detection knows what's most important in the scene and calculates the flash exposure accordingly.

Along with good image stabilization, I'm now updating my recommendatlon to include Face Detection as a "must have" feature on your next compact camera. It's the real deal.

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TDS member Matt wanted to share with readers a tutorial he found on the Samy's Camera site about how to shoot products for sale online, such as eBay.

"If you've ever tried to buy or sell anything online, you know how important good photos are for the process. Learning how to take professional-level photos of your for sale items need not be difficult, and this lesson demonstrates how you can get great results with a basic lighting kit and some simple techniques."

There are some good tips here, and it's worth a read. Thanks Matt for the pointer.

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Sony Announces 300X Compact Flash Cards


There was a day when I would have been shocked to see Compact Flash cards with Sony branding on them. But I guess the A-100 DSLR changed all of that. Photography Blog is reporting that Sony has announced a new trio of high speed CF cards that can transfer data up to 45MBs per second. According to Sony Europe's press release:

"The high speed CompactFlash 300x cards allow UDMA-enabled D-SLR digital camera users to record more frames per second in continuous advance shooting mode and to transfer their images to the PC very rapidly to make room for new photographic projects. An 8GB CompactFlash card can hold up to 2,000 JPEG photos taken in 12 Megapixel resolution in the ‘Standard’ image setting, or up to 1,363 photos in ‘Fine’ mode. Even if both RAW and JPEG image data are recorded, the 8GB card offers enough space for more than 313 digital photos."

The CF cards will be available in October and come in 2, 4, and 8 GB flavors. What next? Before you know it you'll be able to run Windows natively on a Mac...

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Interviews from Photoshop World


At the recent Photoshop World in Las Vegas, I started a new series of interviews for O'Reilly Media where I sit down with imaging experts and ask them about their craft. These chats were recorded and are now avaiable, unedited, on O'Reilly's Digital Media site.

The first three interviews -- Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland, and Deke McClelland -- are posted now on the Inside Digital Media podcast page. More interviews will go live weekly. Stay tuned!

Photo of Derrick Story interviewing Deke McClelland (right) at Photoshop World 07 in Las Vegas.

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Press releases went out last night for the latest version of Photoshop Elements 6 for Windows users. I've had a peek at this application, and it looks terrific. Here's what Adobe is saying about PSE 6:

"New Photomerge technology helps solve the challenge of taking the perfect group photo by combining the best facial expressions and body language from a series of shots to create a single new cohesive group shot. The new Quick Selection Tool reduces a once time-consuming select-and-adjust task to a single click. Addressing all levels - beginner to expert - there is an opportunity to select one of three edit modes, each geared toward a different experience level. A new Guided Edit mode helps walk users through the steps of improving a photo."

"Photoshop Elements 6 streamlines editing with clean, uncluttered screens that bring focus to the photo. New tabs provide simple access to the many capabilities of the program. Additional enhancements include an improved conversion tool that dramatically converts color images into elegant, nuanced black-and-whites. The streamlined Organizer speeds performance and eases importing, tagging and retrieving."

The press release also stressed that a Mac version is on the way stating: "Currently, our Photoshop Elements Windows and Mac versions are on different product development tracks. Photoshop Elements for the Mac customers continue to be very important to us and we want to bring them the best solutions possible for their platform. A Mac version of Photoshop Elements is expected in early 2008.  We will come back to you to provide you with more detail closer to the Mac announcement." So Mac users, sit tight for the time being...

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances. (I have a workshop coming up on Oct. 6 in Santa Rosa.)

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The Kingston DataTraveler Reader is about the size of a Bic lighter, but is a lot more fun. With its USB 2.0 connector, it can quickly transfer data from SD, SDHC, MMC, and MMCplus cards in the blink of an eye. With the appropriate adapters, the DataTraveler can also handle miniSD, microSD, RS-MMC, MMCmobile, and MMCmicro.

I've been using the DataTraveler to transfer images from SanDisk 4GB SDHC cards. It became my "go to" card reader when I discovered that my previous reader couldn't handle the new SDHC format.

When you insert the SD card into the DataTraveler, then plug it into a USB port, two drive icons appear on the desktop. One is for the memory card and the other is 2 GBs of free memory available on the reader itself. This extra memory is a great place to back up your pictures once you've transferred them to your computer. You can also store other data on the card such as documents and music. When you want to eject the reader, be sure to remove both drive icons before pulling the reader from the USB port.

The DataTraveler also includes a green LED to show operational status and a short lanyard so the device can be used as a key ring. The 2GB model sells for about $42 US on Amazon. It's fast, compact, and accepts the latest memory cards, including SDHC -- and the 2GBs of onboard memory is a real bonus.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.

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Sony A-700 DSLR: A Serious Contender


Sony's new DSLR A-700 is a high performance capture device capable of competing with Canon's new 40D and Nikon's D300. At $1,499 US (including an 18-70mm zoom), this solid body features a 12.24 MP Sony Exmor CMOS sensor, a Bionz image processor that screens out noise before Raw data conversion, and sensor-based image stabilization that works with any lens mounted on the camera.

The A-700 can capture at 5 fps, includes a 3" LCD, offers an accessory vertical grip, and features a nice array of system lenses. There's an in-depth review of the Sony A-700 on PhotoReview. Serious photographers who haven't committed to another system should consider this body among the other elite contenders. Others looking for a body with sensor-based stabilization should also look closely at the A-700. Based on initial reports, Sony has done a great job here.

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