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The notion of matching a high-performace CF card to a speedy reader is appealing for those of us capturing huge Raw files. I'd never really considered a paired card/reader scenario until I came across the SanDisk 4GB Extreme IV CompactFlash Card with FireWire Reader. But now that I've had some time testing this dynamic duo, I have to say that I think it's a pretty good idea.

When you buy the kit that includes a Extreme FireWire Reader and 4GB Extreme IV CF card, you have file transfer capabilities up to 40MBs a second. That's pretty speedy. I tested this duo against my longtime favorite reader, the Belkin 15-in-1 USB 2.0, and was a little surprised with the results.

I transferred 386MBs of Raw files from the Extreme IV card to a LaCie 7200 RPM hard drive (via a PowerBook G4) in 49.7 seconds. When I put the same Extreme IV card in the Sandisk reader using the FireWire 800 connector, the data transferred in 29.4 seconds. That's quite a difference, especially when compounded over many shoots.

You'll need either FireWire 400 or 800 capability to use this reader, and it only takes CF cards. But if you want a high-speed solution to uploading lots of big Raw files, the the SanDisk 4GB Extreme IV CompactFlash Card with FireWire Reader is a powerful answer. The kit is available for $279 online.

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Refocus Your Image... After Capture!


Imagine being able to change the focus of your shot after you've uploaded it to your computer. That's what Ren Ng will be discussing at the upcoming Camera Owners of the Bay Area meeting on Dec. 13, 2006 in Cordura Hall 100 at Stanford University from 7:30-10:00 pm.

The idea is to capture extra information at the sensor, which is missing in conventional cameras. Special processing enables physical functions of the lens to be implemented in software. This approach provides unprecedented photographic features, such as the ability to refocus photographs after the image is taken.

I doubt if this technology will find its way into camera stores any time soon, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on. If I have a chance to make it to the Dec. 13 meeting, I'll post a follow up report.

Photos by Ren Ng

New Adobe Tutorials Available


Adobe has posted new white papers and primers available as PDF downloads. These tutorials are authored by some of the biggest names in the Photoshop and post production world.

New titles available (for free) include: The Role of Working Spaces in Adobe Applications by Andrew Rodney, A Raw Workflow in the Real World: The March of the Yellow Penguins by Jeff Schewe, Calibrating the Digital Darkroom Environment by Karl Lang, Black and White Conversion Tutorial by John Paul Caponigro, and more.

You can download these tutorials and browse the entire list by visiting

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I'm a big fan of George Jardine's Lightroom podcasts, but the current one with Richard Benson and Thomas Palmer is incredible. George (who is the Adobe Pro Photography Evangelist) speaks with fine art printer and photographer Richard Benson and his printing partner, Thomas Palmer, while they recount many fascinating stories such as working on the Gilman Paper Company book, working with Irving Penn and Paul Strand, and many other luminaries.

Listening to Richard and Thomas talk about using a printing press to replicate fine art photography is a study in precision and patience. These two gentlemen are fine art masters, and George does a great job of encouraging them to discuss their craft in detail. If you're interested in fine art printing, especially as it relates to photography, you should listen to this interview.

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I've been testing and talking about high-capacity portable drives to help manage the mountain of Raw files that I'm accumulating. A friend and fellow photographer, James Duncan Davidson, is grappling with the same issues. In a recent blog post of his titled, FireWire 800 Travel Drives, he touted the LaCie Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive 120GB. I took a look at this little gem, and it looks like a winner to me.

The LaCie is rugged, bus-powered (so you don't need an external power source), and it sports a triple interface -- FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and Hi-Speed USB 2.0. You can get one for $199 US on

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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


"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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