Thursday, June 6, 2013

Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* Review

Mark Goldstein
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The Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* is a new ultra-wide-angle prime lens for Fujifilm X-series and Sony NEX compact system cameras. Offering a focal range of 18mm in 35mm terms, is the Carl Zeiss Touit 12mm a worthy addition to the XF and NEX lens ranges? Read our Carl Zeiss Touit Distagon 2.8/12mm T* review to find out...

Canon EOS 101 Tutorial Video Series

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital
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Canon U.S.A. has launched a new tutorial video series that will show photographers how to improve their photographic skills. The Canon EOS 101 tutorial video series, available 24/7 on the Canon Digital Learning Center and Canon’s YouTube channel, provides entry-level Canon EOS users, photography students and anyone new to using a digital SLR camera the guidance needed to help enhance their imaging skills. You can access the Canon Digital Learning Center via the link below.

smartSD Memory Cards with SWP for NFC

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Accessories
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By introducing the Single Wire Protocol (SWP) to support Near Field Communications (NFC) features, the SD Association has opened the way for its members to manufacture smartSD memory cards that can provide authentication services. "Completing the enhancement to smartSD marks the achievement of a strategy announced in 2011 to find new markets that would benefit from SD standards," said Brian Kumagai, president of the SD Association. "Adding smart-chip technology to microSD memory cards gives SD equipped smart phones and phablets new consumer conveniences whether they're connected to the Internet or not."

Xara Offers Discount on Designer Pro

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Software
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Xara is offering a special discount on their flagship creative design software Xara Designer Pro to "disgruntled Adobe users who want to find a suitable alternative." Xara Designer Pro is billed as a "professional level graphic design tool that offers integrated tools for illustration, DTP, photo editing and web design in a single package." Xara Designer Pro is a one-off purchase - no subscription and no obligation to purchase future versions - normally retailing for $299, but now available to registered users of Adobe software for just $199. In addition to a 30 day money back guarantee, Xara is offering a free upgrade to the forthcoming Xara Designer Pro X9 due out shortly. Xara Designer Pro is available for Windows operating systems.

Leica M Monochrom Firmware Update 1.002

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital
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Leica Camera has issued a firmware update for the Leica M Monochrom digital rangefinder camera. Version 1.002 improves operational stability when the camera is connected to a computer via USB, corrects mistakes in the French and Italian menus, and fixes a bug related to the 'discreet' mode. Users wishing to take advantage of the new, improved features can now download firmware update 1.002 from the ‘DOWNLOADS’ section of the Service page on the Leica Camera website.

Smart Cameras to Reach 4.7 million Units by 2016

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital Compact Cameras
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Futuresource Consulting forecasts that the so-called 'smart camera' market will reach 4.7 million units globally by 2016. "Smart cameras are still a niche market, with few players in this segment," says Arun Gill, Market Analyst with Futuresource Consulting. "However, looking forward, sales of smart cameras are expected to grow; with our forecasts indicating that shipments will reach one million units in 2013, and grow a further 68% CAGR by 2016 to reach 4.7 million units worldwide." The average smart camera's trade price is forecast to be $202 by 2017, versus $87 for fixed-lens cameras without Wi-Fi and $107 with Wi-Fi. (Futuresource defines smart cameras as "a hybrid of Smartphones and Digital cameras, capable of capturing good quality photos in low light conditions and with good optical zooms, combined with the usability, connectivity and apps consumers associate with their Smartphone camera.") You can buy the report, Prospects for the Smart Camera Market, through the website below.

GIMP 2.8 for Photographers

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Books
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GIMP 2.8 for Photographers by Klaus Goelker is a beginner’s guide to the world's most advanced open-source image editing application. A powerful, multi-platform solution running on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, GIMP 2.8 is a fairly complex proposition. This book guides users through the new user interface and tools, the basics of image editing and simple adjustments, advanced techniques using layers and masks, developing raw images, working with the improved text tool, and preparing high-quality black-and-white images. The most important editing functions are presented in individual, easy-to-follow "workshops." Published by Rocky Nook, the 400-page volume is available for $39.95.

Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Lenses
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Canon has announced an optically stabilised ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for the Canon EOS M compact system camera. Roughly equivalent to a classic 18-35mm optic in 35mm terms, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM features a retractable lens design locked in place by a switch, which allows users to retract the lens back into the barrel when not in use. As Canon's first-ever incterchangeable ultra-wide-angle lens boasting an optical image stabiliser, the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is also optimised for movie shooting, courtesy of an advanced Dynamic IS mode that helps users capture steady video footage. The near-silent STM technology also ensures focus noise is suppressed during movie capture. The Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM will be available from July, priced at £380 / €450.

Canon EOS M Firmware Version 2.0.0

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Compact System Camera
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Canon has announced the upcoming release of a new firmware update for the Canon EOS M compact system camera. Version 2 promises to boost the AF speed, making One Shot AF up to 2.3x faster when using FlexiZone Multi AF and the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. "The new firmware delivers improved performance as a result of a reworked AF Drive Control System and Canon encourages all existing users of the EOS M to download the new firmware version 2 once it becomes available at the end of June," the company says. The firmware upgrade also corrects a rare phenomenon that causes the EOS M controls to become unresponsive when the new EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens is used.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V Review

Mark Goldstein
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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V is a new pocket camera with a massive 30x zoom lens. The HX50V also features built-in wi-fi and GPS tracking, full 1080p high-definition video with stereo sound, a 20 megapixel CMOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch screen, manual shooting modes, 10fps continuous shooting, 3D photos, ISO range of 100-12800 and fast auto-focusing. Read our in-depth Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX50V review to find out if it's the best travel-zoom camera...

Perfect Photo Suite 7.5

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Software
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onOne Software has announced the availability of Perfect Photo Suite 7.5. The update includes a new Quick View Browser, refinements to the Perfect Brush, tested compatibility with the upcoming Lightroom 5, performance improvements, and general bug fixes. Perfect Photo Suite 7.5 is now available from onOne Software. Existing owners of Perfect Photo Suite 7.x are eligible for the update at no additional cost.

Free Softbox from Bowens

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Accessories
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Bowens are offering photographers the chance to pick up a free softbox worth over £160  when they buy a Gemini 500R twin-head kit or any Gemini Pro twin-head kit. The  Bowens ‘best value’ Gemini 500R kit comprises: 2 Gemini 500R monolights; 1x 90cm dual-use silver/white umbrella; 2 x support stands; 1 Pulsar Tx and receiver module; 1 x 120° wide-angle reflector; 1 x 60x80 cm softbox; 1 Traveller  Studio Case and  now a Lumiair  Octobank 90  softbox as well. The promotion runs until 31st August and is available through participating dealers.

Zeiss Puts a Price Tag on Touit Lenses

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Lenses
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Carl Zeiss has announced availability and pricing details for its Touit 2.8/12 and Touit 1.8/32 compact system camera lenses. Available now, the Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12 ultra-wide angle lens (pictured) carries a recommended retail price of €920 / $1,250, whilst the Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 "standard prime" can be yours for €670 / $900. Both lenses come in Fuji X and Sony E mount versions.

DxO Optics Pro 8.2

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Software
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DxO Labs today released Version 8.2 of DxO Optics Pro. This update for Mac and Windows allows DxO Optics Pro 8 to support the Canon EOS Rebel SL1, the Sony SLT-A58 (pictured), and the Ricoh GR, as well as to incorporate all of the new features of DxO FilmPack 4 as a plugin. With DxO FilmPack 4, photographers can apply to their digital photos - now including raw image files! - all the characteristic colour, contrast, and grain of various film emulsions. Do note that using DxO FilmPack 4 as a plugin to DxO Optics Pro 8 requires the purchase of a DxO FilmPack 4 licence.

DxO FilmPack 4

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Software
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DxO Labs have launched DxO FilmPack 4, a major new version of their popular analog film simulation and creative effects software. Available in two editions, Essential and Expert, a single DxO FilmPack 4 licence can be used as a plugin to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and DxO Optics Pro, and as a standalone application for Mac and Windows. This update, which adds 65 new renderings and effects, is now available in DxO Labs’ online shop and at photo resellers at a discount throughout June.

Aqueti Releases Gigapixel Photos for Public Access

Zoltan Arva-Toth | General
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Aqueti, a new company commercialising digital gigapixel photographic technology, has just released a new set of interactive photographs for public access. The set includes the 2013 Duke University Commencement, including commencement speaker Melinda Gates, and the 300th Anniversary Celebration for the City of Edenton, North Carolina. You can explore and share these photographs on gigapan.com, as well as zoom in and tag yourself via Facebook in the 2013 Duke Commencement GigaTag image. “Beautiful high-resolution panoramas are often taken using robotic camera scanners, but our snapshots capture the entire scene in one moment,” said David Brady, CEO of Aqueti, Inc. “The raucous applause may have died down, but Aqueti captured close-ups of the entire crowd’s response, and each student or loved one can explore, save and relive that moment from each audience member’s perspective.”

Landscape Photography Magazine Issue 28

Zoltan Arva-Toth | General
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Issue 28 of Landscape Photography Magazine is now available to download. This edition includes a guide to photographing glaciers, a field test of the Nikon D800 and D800E digital SLR cameras, various articles on topics like counterpoint in composition, the meaning of letters and long-term planning, and much more. Some of these articles are free but do note that the full contents of the magazine are available to subscribers only.

CrazyTalk for iPhone

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Software
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Reallusion has just introduced the mobile version of CrazyTalk to iTunes Store. The app lets users animate with the power of your voice, fingers and wrist movements. "Additionally, CrazyTalk marks the beginning of a multi-platform animation ecosystem that allows users to create content on their desktops, upload to a cloud server, to later animate and share on their iDevices," the company says. Powered by the same engine found inside the CrazyTalk7 desktop version, CrazyTalk for iPhone is available as a free download, with an optional in-app upgrade priced at $0.99.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chasing the Light eZine Issue 17

Zoltan Arva-Toth | General
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Issue 17 of David Noton’s Chasing the Light eZine is now available. In this month’s edition, David continues his series Seeing the Light with an exploration of twilight– exactly what it is, and how to use it’s lighting to best effect in your photography. And in the final article in the current series of Composition Tutorials, David talks readers through the creation of his exquisite shot of Schwedagon Pagoda, Burma. For Behind the Lens, David brings you up to date with his current photo activities in Umbria as he shoots the beautiful Italian landscape, while guest author David Ward provides an invaluable insight into his inspirations and approaches to landscape photography. Do note that the full contents of Chasing the Light eZine is available to f11 subscribers only.

Pentax Efina Gets a Price Tag in the UK

Zoltan Arva-Toth | Digital Compact Cameras
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Pentax UK has revealed the recommended retail price of the 14-megapixel Pentax Efina digital compact camera. Announced in January, the Pentax Efina comes equipped with a 26-130mm equivalent zoom lens sporting 6 elements in 5 groups including 3 aspherical elements; a 1/2.3-type CCD sensor and a “self-portrait mirror." The name harks back to the days of film photography when Pentax had two APS cameras with a similar designation (the Pentax Efina and the Pentax Efina T). The digital Pentax Efina carries a suggested retail price of £79.99 in the UK.