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August 29, 2004

How would you manage on a week-long workshop shoot in a remote location? Do you have the ability to walk away from a shot because there might be something better down the road. Find out more in Swimming with the Sharks.


August 27, 2004

This is an update on my December, 2005 Antarctic Workshop Expedition. The waitlist is still open, but there are now more than 200 names registered and it is likely that not everyone from those that have sent in their requests thus far will be able to attend. But if you'd like to add your name, I am still accepting them for the waitlist.

If you have already registered, please be advised that I expect to start contacting waitlist registrants within a week or so. I'm just waiting to complete a few final details with the expedition company. You will be contacted in the order in which you applied, but you will need to be prepared to respond quickly once you receive my e-mail. Keep an eye out for it beginning later next week.


August 26, 2004

Most photographers are interested in having their images display as high technical quality as possible. Fine grain film, hi-res sensors, top ranked lenses — we have always been focused on (pardon the pun) achieving optimum image quality. Regrettably though, with the advent of Internet chat forums (some at least), along with digital camera, and software that allows us to look at things at the individual pixel level, this has escalated to a fetish for some people, and in my opinion a destructive one at that. It has little to do anymore with creativity, the joy of seeing, and the making of images.

With this in mind today I am publishing a photograph taken recently that displays both green and red chromatic aberration, is out of focus, has motion blur from hand-holding, is highly underexposed, and which basically looks like crap at 100% onscreen in Photoshop. It is the latest entry on my Miscellaneous Moments page. I humbly suggest that Caravaggio might have approved.


August 24, 2004

In a sad but likely inevitable sign of the times it has been announced that Ilford has gone into receivership. Ilford's famous product offerings include Ilfochrome (Cibachrome), Multigrade printing papers and highly regarded films such as FP4, HP5, and Delta. Unless someone picks up the pieces (unlikely) these will be sadly missed by those who haven't yet made the transition to digital, and even by many who have. An item in The Financial Times provides further details.

On Thursday, Sept 9th I will be giving a presentation to the London (Ontario) Camera Club titled Photography in the 21st Century, Technology and Esthetics. The meeting takes place at 7:30pm and is open to the general public. You can find out more by contacting the club secretary.


August 23, 2004

Part Two of my Canon 20D review is now online.

Three new portfolios from members of my July Iceland Workshops are now online.


August 21, 2004

The final details for my December, 2005 Antarctic Workshop Expedition are still being worked out, but I am now pleased to announce the roster of instructors for the trip. In alphabetical order the expedition's photographic teachers and guides will be...

John Paul Caponigro, Steve Johnson, Michael Reichmann, Seth Resnick, and Jeff Schewe

This is possibly the finest group of photographic and digital imaging instructors ever to work together on a single workshop. Chris Sanderson, the award-winning director / cameraman for the Video Journal will also be available to work with anyone who will be shooting video during the expedition. In addition to scheduled seminars throughout the 12 day trip all six instructors will be available for one-on-one instruction and print evaluations. Each of us will also be living and shooting alongside workshop members every day.

If you would like to add your name to the waitlist for this workshop expedition, now is the time to do so. It will almost certainly be sold out by the time it is formally announced next month, and people on the waitlist will be given priority in reserving their places. Find out more.


August 20, 2004

After several days of leaks, "accidential" postings by Canon, and rampant online speculation, the Canon EOS 20D is now official. Read Part One of my EOS 20D review, based on a week of field and bench testing a pre-production sample.

There is also a new Featured Image for August, which is shown as well on the site's Home Page.

A reminder that I am still accepting waitlist registrations for my December, 2005 Antarctic Workshop Expedition.


August 17, 2004

This is a preliminary announcement for my December, 2005 Antarctic Workshop Expedition. If you're looking for the photographic adventure of a lifetime, you won't want to let this one pass you by. It's still 15 months away, but when the trip is formally announced next month it will sell out quickly. Put your name on the no-obligation wait list. What are you waiting for?


August 16, 2004

Windows PC users have a variety of panoramic stitching programs available. Unfortunately Mac users are less well served, especially at the high end. There is now a new first-rate stitching program available for both Macs and PCs. It's called Realviz Stitcher 4.0 and it's of industrial strength as well as being easy to use. The fly in the ointment is that it's the most expensive such program yet made.

Another Icelandic image taken last month is the new Home Page photograph.


August 12, 2004

It's taken close to 15 months, but Epson's Ultrasmooth Fine Art Paper is finally shipping. Some countries got it earlier than others, but unfortunately it will now only be available in rolls and large sheet sizes suitable for use with Epson's wide-format printers. My review is now online.

Two new photographs from my Iceland shoot last month are now also online; one on the home page, and the other illustrating the Ultrasmooth paper review.

Update: In a very surpising move (well, maybe not so surprising) it has been announced that Hasselblad and Imacon are merging. "Shriro Sweden, the holding company of Victor Hasselblad AB, and part of the Hong Kong-headquartered Shriro Group, has announced the acquisition of leading international high-end scanner and digital cameraback manufacturer, Imacon. The move will see Imacon and Hasselblad merge to accelerate Hasselblad’s ambitions in the professional digital photographic sector, and creates the first single source supplier for digital photography at the top end of the professional photographic market".


August 11, 2004

Late yesterday (Tuesday), some malicious pea brain hacked this site's home page. It's amazing that there are people out there with more time on their hands than brains or decency, but such is the state of things, I suppose. Maybe they should consider taking up something creative like photography if they have that much spare time on their hands.

In any event, the site is now likely secure (he said with fingers crossed). I apologize for any inconvenience, which is more than the wanker who did this is likely capable of. And of course since Video Journal subscriber billing is handled by a highly secure third party there never was and can't be any threat to subscriber information.


August 10, 2004

The photographs in my essay The Black Church — Two Icelandic Portraits published a couple of days ago, have lead to a great deal of comment in private e-mails that I've received. Many people were quite taken with the one of the Black Church and Child, which is also the current Home Page image. In a couple of these discussions I started to analyze why there are aspects of this photograph that are visually compelling, and I now explore these in a brief commentary titled Counting Triangles — Understanding What Works, and Why.

And, a reminder, as I do from time to time, that this exists as a commercial free site because of subscriptions to our unique video magazine on DVD called The Video Journal. Click on one of the links immediately below and find out more. Support this site and give yourself or someone else a photographic gift. A single issue is just $19.95 and a one year (4 issue) subscription costs just $69.95.

Update: Shortly after Counting Triangles — Understanding What Works, and Why appeared I received a very insightful e-mail which sheds some additional light on the geometry of the photograph. It has now been added to the article.


August 8, 2004

It isn't often when concentrating on landscape photography that one gets the opportunity to do a portrait, or to capture a unique human moment that incorporates a dramatic locale. On my first Iceland workshop last month we had such an opportunity. It's described in a new essay titled The Black Church — Two Icelandic Portraits.


Every now and again I get an e-mail from some well-meaning soul pointing out that the dateline on today's What's New is a day ahead. Maybe my computer's clock is wrong, they conjecture. No, it's not. There is a simple reason why I date entries as I do.

I live in Toronto, which is in the GMT -5 time zone. I usually publish my articles in the late afternoon or early evening, local time. This is at about midnight GMT. But for some people, such as the tens of thousands of readers of this site that live in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea and elsewhere in Asia, it is already "tomorrow", and has been for quite a few hours. People in more than 120 countries around the world visit the site each week.

So when a reader in New York, for example, sees "tomorrow's" date on a listing here, it needs to be kept in mind that it's already that date in most of Europe, and folks in Asia are starting to think about lunch. For them it's not tomorrow. It's today.


August 7, 2004

The new camera season is coming fast upon us. Photokina, the biannual world's fair of photography is just a month or so away, and the manufacturers are priming the pump for new product announcements. Some will be fresh and totally unexpected while others will be obvious follow-ups to existing offerings. First out of the gate is Konica Minolta.

On Friday afternoon at 4PM Konica Minolta launched a new web site to promote their upcoming Dynax/Maxxum 7 Digital SLR. First announced at the PMA show this past spring the 7 will be the first DLSR to incorporate a vibration reduction mechanism involving the sensor, thus providing stabilization capability to all Minolta lenses. This technology was first seen in the A1 and A2 digicams released during the past half year.

The new site is long on glitz and short on substance at this point, but it looks as if K/M will feed it with new material as the weeks progress. Possibly a clever way of trying to maintain interest, but based on a recently published interview with the company's president it seems that even they aren't sure at this point when it will ship, at what price and even what the final name will be. Such is marketing in the Internet age.


August 5, 2004

In many ways these are still early days in the photographic industry's transition from the world of film to digital. One area where there continues to be misinformation is with regard to the advantages of shooting raw files rather than JPGs.

The preeminent raw conversion program, and one that can handle raw files from more than 60 different digital cameras, is Camera Raw, a component of Photoshop CS. Now, highly regarded author Bruce Fraser has written what will likely be the definitive book on the subject. It is titled Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS. My review, the first to appear anywhere, is now online.

Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

One of the greatest documentary photographers of all time passed away on Wednesday. Henri Cartier Bresson was 95. If you have not yet seen it, you may want to read my review of his major retrospective book and exhibition from last summer titled The Man, The Image and The World.


August 3, 2004

The winner of our 8 Megapixel Digicam draw is Eva Li of Vancouver, BC. Congratulations Eva! Eva has decided to accept a Minolta A2 as her prize, and one will be shipped to her this week.

Our new contest, which begins today and runs through December 15th, is for a free next-generation digital camera from one of the world's leading manufacturers. At Photokina in September, 2004 many new digital cameras will be announced, but one will stand out from the crowd, and will be available prior to Christmas, 2004. It could be yours! You can't win it if you're not in it, so support this site and subscribe now.

There are now three new portfolios online from Iceland workshop members.

Update: Apologies for the problems with some of the links at the top of each page. This began yesterday when I tried to fix something else, and more things broke. All is now well — I think. Thanks to everyone that drew it to my attention.


August 1, 2004

It's the first of a new month and that means a new article by our favourite observer of the passing photographic scene, Mike Johnston. For August Mike places his tongue firmly in cheek and gives us Uses and Applications of 35mm Lenses.

Members of my two Iceland workshops last month have now started to submit their work. I'm pleased to publish today portfolios from this shoot by five of the 23 workshops members — Ian Lyons, J. David Levy, Frank Forward, Jonathan Sachs and Mike O'Callahan. It's fascinating to see how different people interpret the same environment. Additional portfolios will be published as they are provided, and more of my own photographs from Iceland last month will appear as illustrations in upcoming articles.

Video Journal subscribers should note that Stephen Sauve is now your primary contact for issues related to subscription services. If his name seems familiar, it is because Steve is also the composer of the wonderful music featured in each issue of the Journal.


July 29, 2004

Mac owners will be pleased to learn that Phase One has now announced and made available for the first time an LE version of Capture One. This means that now all three versions of Capture One, LE, SE and Pro are available for both the Windows and Mac platforms.


July 28, 2004

There are three items of interest today.

The first is the publication of a new article titled Abstracting The Landscape. It is an examination of the differences between what I call Snapshots, Postcards and Images. It also contains descriptions of the making of two of the best photographs from my recent three week shoot in Iceland, one of which is now featured as the site's new Home Page illustration.

The second item is a mention that Mamiya has announced a new version of their medium format RZ67 Pro. It is called the IID and features the same MSCE (Mamiya Serial Communication for Exchange) interface as found on their 645 AFD cameras. There are some that think that with the increasing pixel count and excellent image quality of high-end 35mm DSLRs, that the days of medium format cameras are numbered. Think again. Every advantage that MF had over 35mm in the days of film still hold true today, along with some new ones.

True, the best MF digital backs are pricey, and are likely to remain so for some time, but for working pros this is less of a factor than in the amateur market. In the meantime, MF digital has become a vibrant part of the new photographic landscape, and Mamiya's introduction of the RZ Pro IID is just another sign of this return to vitality. The only losers are those medium format camera makers like Pentax who were too thick to see the digital writing on the wall, and photographers who abandoned their MF systems a couple of years ago in the belief that medium format would be supplanted by high resolution 35mm digital. For some, maybe. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the stories of medium format's demise are somewhat premature.

Finally, a heads up for Video Journal subscribers. Issue #11 was due by now, but its publication has been delayed by some weeks. The reason for this is twofold. Chris Sanderson, the Journal's producer and editor, moved to a new home in June, and his editing system along with the rest of his life was in boxes for several weeks before and after the move. Once that was past he joined me in Iceland for three weeks during July, assisting me with my workshops there. The bottom line is that Issue #11now won't be out until some time in September. We'll keep you updated here as the publication schedule becomes clearer. Chris and I both regret any inconvenience that this delay may cause.


July 25, 2004

Alain Briot today provides us with the seventh installment of his exclusive nine part series for this web site on Esthetics and Photography. It is titled Keepers, and in it Alain explores issues related to selecting, categorizing and storing your work.


July 22, 2004

What are the ingredients needed for strong outdoor photography? Certainly a great location. And the right equipment definitely can't hurt. But more important than anything else is light, which I provide an example of in a new essay titled It's About Light .


July 18, 2004

I have just returned from three weeks in Iceland where I conducted two photographic workshops. Here are the basic stats... Including a 5 day break in between sessions we drove some 6,500 kilometers (4,000 miles), the majority of it over unpaved roads. We had 24 workshop members in all, including men and women from Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the U. K., and, of course, the U.S.

I shot some 2,500 frames, which filled up 35 Gigabytes on my laptop. My main landscape camera was the Contax 645 with Kodak Proback, and my snapshot camera was the Minolta A2. We also ate more hotdogs and hamburgers at gas stations than I care to remember.

A portfolio of my work from this year's trip to Iceland will appear on these pages later this summer. I will also be publishing a sampling of work by each of the workshop members as they are submitted.

One of my favourite photographs of the trip has just been made the front page image on the site. How it was made is detailed on the Featured Image page as July's entry.

My mailbox contained some 1,700 e-mails when I returned yesterday. If you wrote, it may take me a while to reply. If you don't get a reply by the end of this week and the subject was important, please resend the e-mail as my mailbox overflowed during my time away.

Mike Johnston's July column is titled Comparisons and the Odious: Fakery, Actual and Conceptual. It is an insightful and entertaining look at one of photography's perennial topics. I'm sorry to have to have made you wait more than two weeks for this very fine article.

The semi-finalist for June in the 8MP Digicam Draw is David Van Gosen of Baltimore, MD. Congratulations David!


June 26, 2004

From June 27th though July 17th I will be offline, conducting two field workshops in Iceland. During these three weeks I will not be able to respond to either e-mail or Forum postings. (The current front page photograph is from my shoot there last July.)

Video Journal orders are automated and shipped by our fulfillment company the same day that they are received. If you have questions regarding new or existing subscriptions please contact Stephen Sauve. He will be able to answer your questions and solve any problems. If there are issues with the Luminous Landscape site itself that you'd like to report you can contact Neil Cowley. Neil will be administering both the site and the Discussion Forum during my absence.

For regular readers used to two or three new articles every week you can turn to the more than 2,000 previous pages on the site. These contain feature articles, tutorials and product reviews. There likely is something there that you haven't yet read.

A reminder that this site is supported solely though subscriptions to our quarterly DVD video publication — The Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Click on one of the links above or below to find out more, and then please consider a subscription or the purchase of an individual issue. You'll be supporting this site and also will discover a unique photographic resource.

See you again in mid-July. Cheers!


June 24, 2004

There are hardly any web sites producing reviews of medium format digital backs, and few such reviews appear in print. To fill that void, during the past half year I have been trying to review most of major backs available. I have been particularly interested in versions that can be used in the field rather than just in the studio.

In the next week or so Phase One will start shipping its P20 and P25 backs. These are completely self contained medium format backs that will be available in versions for all of the major camera systems. The P20 is a square format 18 Megapixel back while the P25 is 22 Megapixel almost-full-frame 645 in size.

Though only introduced to dealers 10 days ago, thanks to Vistek and Phase One I was able to spend two days last week field testing one of only five pre-production samples of the P25 that exist in the world. My exclusive Phase One P25 First-Look Review is now online.


June 22, 2004

Advanced fine art photographers as well as professionals and commercial studios know the advantages of using a RIP when printing. Colorbyte Software is one of the oldest and most respected names in RIPs for both Iris and Epson inkjet printers. They have just released their latest version ImagePrint 6 and at the same time added support for the new Epson 4000 printer. My hands-on review of Imageprint 6 for the Epson 4000 is now online.

The site's front page photograph has been changed. Keeping with the seasonal theme, this is of spring planting in rural Ontario. I have driven by this rich farm area regularly for years, and each spring have visualized such a shot, but it never came together properly. Last week it did.


June 20, 2004

After six months to a year or learning and using Photoshop many photographers are keen to explore some of the more advanced image processing capabilities available. Sometimes these are arcane and only relate to the more esoteric aspects of image interpretation and control. But when a new tool is uncovered that really helps produce superior images, especially ones that can compensate for shooting errors, we all perk up our ears.

Today we begin publishing a series of advanced Photoshop tutorials by Glenn E. Mitchell II, Ph.D. It is titled Restore Those Clipped Channels, and it explains how to use a saturation mask to repair severe saturation problems. Additional tutorials in this series written by Mitch, (as he prefers to be called) will appear here every few weeks.


June 18, 2004

One of this site's recent Home Page images has generated a lot of reader comment along with questions about how it was shot and processed. I have therefore made it June's Featured Image and have provided an in-depth look at how it was made.

My colleague and photographic guide and instructor Steve Kossack still has a few spaces left on his Colorado Fall Color Workshop in September.

On Sunday I will publish the first of a series of advanced Photoshop tutorials by Glenn E. Mitchell II, Ph.D. Anyone looking for improve their image processing skills will find this new series to be very worthwhile.

I will be spending this weekend shooting with the new Phase One P25 22 Megapixel full-frame 645 medium format digital back. The industry has been buzzing about this new back since it was announced several months ago. It was first shown to dealers at a launch event in Copenhagen last week. I now have access to one of the few pre-production backs available, and will be field testing it as well as putting it on the DxO Analyzer test bench. I expect my review to appear here by the middle of next week.

June 17, 2004

Earlier this year this site had the first online review of the Panasonic LC1, and then again a two-part review of its dressed up sister the Leica Digilux 2. Both of these were done by contributors, but I was keen on seeing for myself how these cameras handled, and how they would perform both on location and on the DxO test bench.

I recently spent a month using an LC1, and my Leica Digilux 2 / Panasonic LC1 Test Report and 4th Opinion is now online.

As regular readers may recall I am a contributing editor to Photo Techniques Magazine, and my writing appears there several times a year. The latest issue (July / August, 2004) contains my article Comparing the New 8-Megapixel Cameras.


June 15, 2004

With some digicams now offering 8 Megapixel imaging chips and 28-200mm f/2.8 equivalent zooms a lot of photographers are asking themselves — self, which one is best for me? And, why should I prefer one over the other? To try and make sense of this I have just published an essay titled Digicams vs. DSLRs.


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We've just made it easier for everyone to discover and enjoy The Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Based on the tremendous response to our single issue promotion last month we have decided to make the current, and indeed all issues available for just $19.95. No subscription necessary.

But when we announced this a couple of days ago we made a mistake. We didn't properly consider the consequences for existing and new annual subscribers. So, here's how it now works. We've reduced prices across the board by 30%, including subscriptions.

Any Single Issue, Including the Current Issue #10 — $19.95

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June 13, 2004

Many of the best photographic locations for landscape work in the United States have become clichés. I'm thinking of locales like Yosemite and Antelope Canyon. That isn't to say that they aren't enjoyable, or than original work can't still be done there. But, landscape photographers are always on the lookout for somewhere fresh to ply their trade.

The Buffalo National River, located in Arkansas, appears to be just such a place, and in this exclusive report by contributor Mike Boyd he shows us in words and images just how spectacular it can be.


June 10, 2004

The correct settings that need to be made when printing are one of the leading causes of confusion and frustration among photographers. In Understanding Printer Colour Management I provide a brief tutorial on how to set up both Photoshop and your printer to use profiles properly.


I made a purchase today that I never thought I'd make in my lifetime. I purchased a Lacie 1 Terabyte hard disk. For those of you who skipped Grade 9 math class the day that terabytes were discussed (if they were at all), a terabyte is a thousand gigabytes. And since a gigabyte is a thousand megabytes, a terabyte is a million megabytes. The mind boggles.

In any event, the Lacie D2 Bigger Disk (to give it its formal name) is the first terabyte drive to become available. It has a list price of U.S. $1,195. This makes the retail cost per gigabyte about a $1 a gig. The drive has Firewire 800 / 400 and USB 2 interfaces and works with both Macs and PCs. The rotation speed is 7200 RPM — as fast as standard IDE drives usually get. I've started using it with Firewire 400, but I have a Firewire 800 card on order. Once I've used the drive for a while I'll publish my usual hands-on review.

For anyone wondering what on earth one needs a terabyte drive for, here's one answer. Each of my finished Canon 1Ds and Kodak DCS Pro Back files, with Adjustment Layers, ranges in size from 250-500MB. Thus, at an average of 300MB per file that's only 3 files per gig. The Lacie drive therefore will only hold some 3,000 processed images. A lot, but not as infinite as it seems. Of course it'll also hold 100,000 ten MB raw files. Guess I'd better got outside and start shooting.


June 8, 2004

Back in December, 2003 I published a first-look review of the Epson 400 printer, months before it started to ship. In April I took delivery of one of the first production 4000s to become available, and have been using it daily since. My Epson 4000 Review Update is now online.


June 7, 2004

Very good news for current and prospective owners of the Konica / Minolta A2. Many user (myself included) have experienced autofocus problems as well as spontaneous camera resets. As is usually the case with Japanese companies, Minolta did not admit publicly that there was a problem. But there was, and they have been working aggressively to correct it.

The fix has been completed, and it will be available within the next 48 hours on the Konica / Minolta U.S. web site. The problems that have been addressed with this firmware release (V1.12u) are (to quote Minolta)...

— Improved the symptom that visibility of LCD decreases depending on the subject brightness while using the Flex Digital Magnifier function.

— Improved the symptom that LCD turns off or the camera cannot focus on the high brightness subject with the Flex Focus Point at the focal length of 100mm.

— Improved the flash metering accuracy.

— Changed the viewfinder operation from the viewfinder turns off immediately after leaving the eye to it remains 10 sec. when the display mode switch is at EVF

I have updated the firmware on my camera with an advance copy of this new version and the installation went smoothly, and so far at least it appears to solve the problem. Just download the files, extract and KM003.brd by running the .exe file, and copy them to a CF card's root directory. Make sure that a fresh battery is installed, and place the card in the camera. Set the A2 to Playback mode, and turn on the camera. There will be a message asking if you want to update the firmware. Confirm, and about a minute later it's done.

This is a welcome relief to a problem with what I regard as the best of the current crop of 8 Megapixel digicams. Thanks Minolta!

June 6, 2004

Mike Johnston returns today with his now monthly column and observations on the passing photographic scene. This month's article is titled Scenic Fatigue.

June 4, 2004

The second of two new lens reviews to be published here this week is now online. The Canon 70 - 300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS is only the second Diffractive Optic lens to be introduced by Canon, and it turns out to be a very appealing and versatile piece of glass.

The Miscellaneous Moments page and the Home Page have both had new, related, photographs added.

June 2, 2004

This is a first announcement for a Master-Class Workshop to take place Algonquin Park in north-central Ontario in early October. This unique workshop is intended for experienced landscape and nature photographers who would like to spend an intensive long-weekend working with Michael Reichmann, and in a spectacular location for fall colour. The main focus of the workshop will be on seeing, composition and the esthetics of fine-art landscape photography, rather than on equipment or technique. Workshop members will bring their portfolios for review, critique and roundtable discussions.

Anyone may apply for the workshop, but attendance will be based on acceptance of application and a small portfolio review. If you are interested in joining this exciting gathering of photographers, don't hesitate. My workshops always sell out very quickly. Sorry — SOLD OUT.

A fall colour workshop in Colorado with Luminous Landscape associate Steve Kossack still has a few spaces available.


The May semi-finalist in the 8 MP Digicam Draw is Bret Douglas of Chattanooga, TN. Congratulations Bret!

June 1, 2004

Just a couple of weeks ago Canon began shipping two new lenses, the 28 - 300mm f3.5-5.6L IS and 70 - 300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS. I have now used both of these lenses in the field and also run them through the DxO Analyzer test bench. My review of the Canon EF 28 - 300mm f3.5-5.6L IS has just been published, and the one on the 70 - 300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS will appear here before the end of the week.


May 30, 2004

As regular readers know Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column will now only appear on the first Sunday of each month. Which means that Mike will be back next week. For this week I offer up instead Symmetry — an essay on patterns in the way we see.

May 27, 2004

Contributor Joe Beda today provides us with an introduction to Creating Digital Panoramas using Panotools and PTAssembler. There are simpler panoramic stitching tools available, and certainly more expensive ones, but these two in combination do a very impressive job.

The new photograph on the home page was taken yesterday in Algonquin Park in north-central Ontario. Each Spring I do a wildlife shoot there for a couple of days, and this time saw and photographed a large number of moose, but unfortunately had rotten weather. It has also been added as the May entry on my Featured Image page.

Part of the purpose for the trip though was to conduct field tests of two new Canon lenses, the 28-300mm f/5.6L IS and the 70-300mm f/5.6 DO IS. My reports including DxO Analyzer tests and field results will appear here next week.



Phase One has announced today the release of V 3.5 of their Capture 1 PRO and SE raw conversion programs for both Mac OS X and Windows. The new version of LE is for Windows computers only. New cameras are supported and there are many new features. I will have a review of the new version available shortly.

(Note that there was some controversy over the past 24 hours regarding features in the new version of LE that were announced to have been deliberately reduced from what was available in the previous version. Many voices were raised against this, including mine, and wisely Phase Ones management saw the wisdom of not continuing with the implementation of these limitations).

On a related front Michael Tapes, a friend and sometime contributor to this site, has put his web site to rest and has today launched a new expanded site called This is still the only official North American support and sales site for Capture 1 RAW Workflow software. The site also includes many other workflow related products, services and information. Definitely worth your time to explore.

Readers in Asia should also be aware of PIXOURCE Digital, another authorized online source of Capture 1 downloads and updates.

May 25, 2004

One of the most common queries among wildlife and sports photographers using Canon equipment is — how does the Canon 100-400mm f/5.6L IS zoom compare in image quality at 400mm with the Canon 400mm f/5.6L prime telephoto? I now have a long-promised DxO Analyzer comparison of the these two lenses online.

May 24, 2004

Haven't gotten around to subscribing to The Video Journal yet? OK. You're forgiven. But we're going to do our best to help you discover what a great photographic resource it is. You can receive the current — just released Issue #10 — for only $14.95. This includes free shipping to anywhere in the world, and yes, the Video Journal will play on any DVD player, as well as DVD equipped PC or Mac, in any country in the world.

And if you like it we have an additional offer that can save you a total of nearly $50. What have you got to lose?

The next few weeks will see a large number of feature articles and exciting product reviews, including a DxO Analyzer comparison of the Canon 400mm vs 100-400mm zoom, and a field report and DxO Analyzer test of the new and just shipping Canon 70-300mm IS DO and 28-300L IS lenses. In addition I have put the new Leica Digilux2 / Panasonic LC1 on the DxO Analyzer test bench and provide my own hands-on field report as well. Finally my Epson 4000 review is nearly finished, along with a first look at Imageprint 6.0 for the Mac.

No other site offers this breadth and frequency of in-depth features and tests, but its continuation is all dependant on subscriptions to the Video Journal. We have no commercial sponsors or relationships, no pop-up ads and we make no compromises nor do we play favourites. Help support this site and give yourself the gift of photography. Subscribe now.

Attention Video Journal Subscribers — Downloadable PDF format Jewel Box art for Issue #10 is now available.

May 23, 2004

Mike Johnston announces today that he is making a number of changes to his writing and publishing activities, including altering the schedule of The Sunday Morning Photographer from weekly to monthly. I for one am going to miss my weekly hit of Mike's observations and insights into the photographic scene. Fear not though — I will be scheduling other new content for publication on Sundays, beginning next week.

May 21, 2004

Following up on my trip to Spain last month I am now publishing two brief articles. The first is titled the Konica Minolta A2 on Location. I describes my experience using this 8 Megapixel digicam during that trip. The second related article is on the Seville Fair, which takes place every April and which is one of the cultural highlights to be experienced in Andelucia.

May 19, 2004

Every photographer shooting with a digital camera needs to choose between shooting in JPG or raw mode. But do you have all of the information needed to make that decision? In Understanding Raw Files I look at the pros and cons (mostly pros) of shooting in raw mode.

If you have never taken a photography workshop or seminar — why not? They are a great way to improve your technical skills, hone your eye, and meet like-minded people. Some expert instructors are associated with this site and so you might want to look at some of the upcoming field and fixed-location opportunities that are coming up this summer.

May 16, 2004

Mike Johnston is taking the week off and therefore there will not be a Sunday Morning column this week. Instead I am publishing an essay by Dutch photographer Stefan Heijdendael titled From Digital to Analog, and Back. In it Stefan explores a minimalist approach to developing ones photographic skills.

Isn't it time that you considered subscribing to The Video Journal? It's what keeps this web site in business, and is the world's only quarterly DVD video magazine created exclusively for creative photographers. Issue #10 is now shipping. Join thousands of like-minded photographers around the word in exploring the passion of photography.

May 14, 2004

Nikon expert Thom Hogan provides us with an article titled Focus Sensor Locations on the Nikon DSLRs, which looks at some of the issues faced by owners of Nikon DSLRs that utilize autofocus sensors derived from film-based cameras.

Update: On another discussion board (which I no longer participate in directly), I have been accused of either falsifying my data or ignoring defects in a sample image found in my DxO Optics Pro review of earlier this week. Regrettably this personal attack is caused by a fundamental lack of understanding of the basics of digital technology (and a further example why one shouldn't judge everything at 100% magnification (AKA pixel-peeping)). I have now added to my review an explanation of what's actually being seen.


May 11, 2004

Every now and then a product comes along that has the potential to change an industry. I'm not sure yet if DxO Optics Pro is such a product, but it just might be. Imagine a software program that can correct a lens' optical distortion and chromatic aberration, and also increase sharpness and remove lens vignetting. In other words, make an inexpensive lens better, and a good lens great.

DO Labs has today announced DxO Optics Pro, and the first review to appear anywhere on the web or in print is now online here.

Current Video Journal subscribers please note — if your subscription does not renew automatically (which it does for anyone who began their subscription with the past 12 month), you may now begin your renewal with either the current issue, Issue #10, or Issue #11 which is due out later this summer.

Not yet familar with The Video Journal? Find out more.

May 10, 2004

What do you do on a rainy day? Stay home and watch TV? Sometimes, particularly when I'm traveling in a foreign city, I'll head out and photograph umbrellas. No, not with an umbrella, but people with umbrellas — that most graphic of personal accessories. Two examples recently taken in Spain are found in a new small essay titled, simply, Umbrellas.

May 9, 2004

Concern about the best media for archiving ones digital files is common to all photographers. This week Mike Johnston shares with us some definitive information on Finding the Best CD-Rs.

May 7, 2004

Bullfighting is a traditional sport in many parts of Spain, as well as in Mexico and other parts of the world. Its historical roots are an the province of Andelucia and its heart is in Seville. I attended my first bullfight there last week, and in Death in the Afternoon describe photographing a bullfight as well provide a small portfolio. If you're squeamish or have objections to bullfighting, you are under no obligation to view this page.

May 6, 2004

The Grand Prize winner of the Iceland Workshop draw is Stig Sundgaard of New South Wales, Australia. Stig wins an all expenses paid one week photographic workshop in Iceland this coming July. Congratulations Stig!!

Our new draw offers an 8 Megapixel digital camera as its prize. Find out more about our unique quarterly DVD publication. You could be the next winner.

I have updated both the Featured Image and Miscellaneous Moments page with photographs taken in Seville last week.

May 5, 2004

I have just returned from my vacation in Spain — 10 days in Barcelona, Seville and Cordoba. Beautiful country, great food, lovely people, lousy weather. I'm told that it was warmer, sunnier and drier in Toronto the past two weeks. Sigh.

But I did have an opportunity to do some street shooting at the April Fair in Seville, and also some very exciting photography at a bullfight. I'll have portfolios and commentary online soon. In the meantime the new home page photograph is from the bullfight series.

Contributor Alain Briot provides us with the sixth installment in his nine part tutorial series entitled Aesthetics and Photography. This one is on Determining The Best Exposure with both film and digital.

May 2, 2004

Mike Johnston had a computer hard disk crash and lost the article he was working on for this week. He'll return next Sunday Morning with his usually provocative observations on the world of photography.

For your Sunday read I've just published a small observation on photographing architecture when traveling.

May 1, 2004

The Great Iceland Workshop Draw has now closed. The semi-finalist for April is Stig Sundgaard of New South Wales, Australia. Congratulations Stig! The grand prize winner of a free photographic workshop in Iceland this July will be announced next Wednesday, May 5th, when I return from my current trip to Spain. Our new draw offers an 8 Megapixel digital camera.

April 28, 2004

In a new tutorial titled Hybrid Conversion contributor Jonathan Wienke explores how to utilize a combination of RAW conversion techniques to produce images with expanded dynamic range.

I am currently traveling, and shooting daily with a digicam, the second time this year that I have used one on location. (I used a Sony F828 in Tanzania in January, and am using a Minolta A2 this month in Spain). Those who still regard digicams solely as appropriate for snapshots will be interested to learn that Magnum photographer Alex Majoli recently won the NPPA’s Magazine Photographer of the Year award for his work in Iraq and China and also the Overseas Press Club award for his work in the Congo. All of the photographs leading to these awards were taken with an Olympus C-5050, what some would consider a consumer digicam; and last year's model at that . Food for thought.

© 2004 Alex Majoli

April 25, 2004

Newspapers yesterday were filled for the first time with pictures of caskets containing the remains of U.S. servicemen and women being returned from Iraq. In Almost Every Night We Send Them Home Mike Johnston shows the photograph which started the furor and explains the story behind its creation as well as subsequent events. You can read more about the fallout here.

"Buying a subscription to the Journal was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I debated it for 18 months, and then bought a DVD player just to watch the Video Journal.
I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't taken the plunge yet. Your photography will improve!"

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April 24, 2004

As of today I am on vacation until May 5th. I will be traveling in Spain and may or may not have regular Internet access. The site will therefore be updated irregularly during this period.

I was told by our duplicator this morning that Issue #10 of The Luminous Landscape Video Journal will start shipping to subscribers on Monday. Depending on where in the world you live (and the vagaries of the post office) you should receive your copy within a week or so.

This is our biggest and best issue yet. Almost 2.5 hours of broadcast-quality programming. You can view low-res Quicktime video clips of some of the featured segments, and if you're not yet a subscriber read what's being said about this unique publication for passionate photographers. Also, remember that you just have until May 1st to enter the Iceland Workshop Contest — a prize worth U.S. $6,000. If you subscribe today you could be the winner next week!

Users of Photoshop CS will be pleased to hear that a new update to Camera RAW has just been released. It contains support for virtually every RAW file format in existence, including most medium format backs and recently released DSLRs and digicams. Thanks Thomas! (If the Adobe site doesn't show the latest version yet, it will very soon. Check back again tomorrow. It has been released).

Several readers have inquired about my pending Epson 4000 review. I've been using the printer heavily for the past several weeks and its performance is exceptional. But, Epson Canada still has not shipped 17" roll paper, and so I'm waiting to complete my review until I can properly test the roll paper function. Should be within the next few weeks.

Natural History Photographer CC Lockwood, with whom I have co-led Master Class workshops in the Grand Canyon and on Lake Powell, is currently 7 months into a 4 year public awareness project that will culminate in two books, a traveling exhibit, and a 4 year web page entitled CC and his wife Sue are living full time in a house boat in the swamps and marshes of South Louisiana. This Sunday, March 25th between 8am and 9am, this project will be featured on CBS Sunday Morning. Check your local programming guide. Catch it if you can.

April 22, 2004

The digital era has brought into sharper focus (no pun intended) the perennial topic of image alteration. In a new essay titled Cloning out the Can I explore some of the moral and technical issues that are raised whenever we take a photograph.


I had my portrait taken yesterday, but it wasn't a regular photograph — it was a daguerreotype. Mike Robinson is a Toronto-based photographer, master printer, educator, and expert in 19th century photographic processes. He is one of only a handful of people in the world still making daguerreotypes. These went out of fashion about 150 years ago.

Mike has an exhibition of his work upcoming at the Ryerson Gallery in Toronto, May 19 — June 5, 2004, and he also is offering one-day workshops on making daguerreotypes, on both Saturday, May 8th and Sunday, May 9th. The cost is CDN $350 and you can find out more and enroll by calling Mike at 1-416-469-8128, or via e-mail. An interview with Mike as well as an in-depth look at the daguerrian process will appear in a future issue of the Video Journal.

"Buying a subscription to the Journal was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I debated it for 18 months, and then bought a DVD player just to watch the Video Journal.
I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't taken the plunge yet. Your photography will improve!"

Find Out More

April 21, 2004

If you're not yet bored or overwhelmed with reviews of the current group of 8 Megapixel camera you will find that a whole new batch of them were published yesterday at DPReview. Do they jibe with my own reviews? No, not really. Guess you'll have to draw your own conclusions.

Update — 8am EDT: Quite a few people have written in the first 12 hours or so since Phil Askey's reviews appeared online asking why we have such divergent opinions on these cameras. As I see it the answer is simply that while I accept the fact that there are measurable difference between these cameras, in the end these are much less important to me than how they handle. A camera that can't get the shot doesn't have much use to me, regardless of how well it might have recorded it if it had.

My reviews are done from the perspective of a working photographer, whether I'm reviewing a thousand dollar digicam or an eight thousand dollar DSLR. I test them on location in the real world, sometimes under extreme conditions — desert to arctic — and only then do I look more closely at image quality differences. It's these field experiences that colour my biases toward a camera. Other reviewers have different methodologies. There's no right or wrong, simply different priorities. Readers need to become familiar with these differences in reviewer's approaches and then draw their own conclusions based on the type of work that they plan on doing with a particular piece of gear.

April 20, 2004

Based on the e-mail that I've received recently readers either are...

1 — bored with the 8 Megapixel camera reviews that have appeared here over the past couple of months and wish I'd never write another word on the subject, or...

2 — have really enjoyed these reviews and now want a summary conclusion and a winner declaired.

I just checked my statistics program and it appears that up until today these reviews have been read by some 350,000 people, so I guess that love-'em or hate-'em, there is considerable interest in this genre. So in the spirit of ecumenicism I'll try and satisfy both factions. In The Winner is... I look briefly at each of the five cameras and provide a summary judgment on them. I also promise that this is the last piece that I'll be writing here on this subject.

April 19, 2004

I believe that attending a workshop or seminar is one of the fastest ways to enhance ones photographic skills and creative potential. In addition to my own offerings, from time to time I promote on these pages teachers and events whose work I am personally familiar with.

Rick Bell is one of Canada's leading professional photographers and educators. He has organized a major week-long workshop in late August, near Niagara Falls, Ontario, called Image Explorations EAST. Rick had asked my to join the faculty, but regrettably a scheduling conflict prevents it this year. I am promoting this event here because I believe it to be an exceptional opportunity for working photographers to hone their skills, work closely with their peers, and learn from some outstanding instructors. Highly recommended.

April 18, 2004

This week Mike Johnston looks at what it takes to be successful in photography in his Sunday Morning essay titled Secrets of Success. By the way, I will be on vacation in Spain and therefore off-line between April 23rd and May 4th, so the next two Sunday Morning columns will not appear until my return.

Issue #10 of the Video Journal, our unique quarterly DVD video magazine about photography, is at the duplicator and will ship toward the end of this coming week. In the meantime, we have posted video clips from the new issue to whet your appetite. If you're not yet a subscriber, find out what thousands of passionate photographers around the world are raving about.

April 17, 2004

The gap in megapixel count between high-end DSLRs and digicams is now over. Indeed, the current generation of 8 megapixel digicams have higher counts than current mid-range DSLRs from the same camera makers. But this month Canon has released two quite different 8 megapixel cameras, the 1D Mark II and the PowerShot Pro1, both recently reviewed here.

Of course it didn't take me long to become curious as to how these two cameras would compare in terms of image quality, and so in my latest article — Canon's 8 Megapixel Alternatives — I explore whether there a $3,500+ difference in image quality between these cameras.

April 15, 2004

The exciting news this Spring for fine-art and professional photographers has been the long-delayed shipment of the Epson 4000 printer. (Full review coming soon). But Epson usually demonstrates its latest technology on consumer models first, and this they have done with the also just-shipping Epson R-800. Using a Gloss Optimizer cartridge along with Durabright inks the R-800 is the first printer using pigment inks that is able to utilize glossy papers without displaying bronzing.

Contributor, fine-art landscape photographer and teacher Alain Briot, today provides us with his hands-on review of Epson's latest printer, the R-800.

April 13, 2004

With the coming of Spring — in the Northern Hemisphere at least — many people with an interest in astronomy are going to be dusting off their binoculars and telescopes for another season. If looking into doing some astrophotography is of interest to you, Jeff Ball's new article titled The Luminous Heavens may prove of value. This is an introductory overview of a very big subject, but if it piques your interest there are links included to additional resources as well.

We have just delivered Issue #10 of The Video Journal to the duplicator. As soon as we know when shipments to subscribers will begin we'll announce it here, along with details on the new issues contents. It's our biggest and best edition yet, with a brand new look.

April 11, 2004

Since the beginning of time (or at least since the invention of photography), reviewers have been accused of "being in the pockets" of manufacturers whose products they praise. Of course it's totally naive to think this, and it shows a total lack of understanding of how the real world works, but the myth continues. In recent months, specifically on the forums at DPReview, I have alternately been accused of being on the take from both Canon and Minolta. Even Phil Askey, the publisher of DPReview has been accused of a Nikon bias following his recent Nikon D70 review.

But when it happened to Mike Johnston, super-curmudgeon and fearless gumshoe, he decided to fight back (or at least irony back), and you can now read about his adventures in payola-land in this week's Sunday Morning essay titled — The Reviewer's Life.

I've already linked to it elsewhere on the site, but given the number of e-mails received on the topic it's worth repeating. I won't be reviewing the new Nikon 8700, the only one of the five 8MP cameras that has not yet been reviewed here. The reason why is simple. After repeated requests to Nikon's representatives in two countries over a period of many weeks the company hasn't provided one to me for testing. More on this is found here.

April 9, 2004

Ben Lifson is one of the world's most respected photographic educators and critics. In an essay written exclusively for this site, titled Leica Digilux 2 — A Second Opinion, Ben not only examines the Digilux 2 but provides us with a provocative look at the nature of photographic equipment as well as issues relating to a camera's interface and usability.

I recommend this essay to every photographer, not just to those interested in this specific camera or the broader topic of digital image capture.

Ben would like to apologize to readers for the delay (due to illness) in the publication of this promised third part to Sean Reid's Digilux 2 review.

The Luminous Landscape is looking for a short-term contract programmer to help us in developing a new on-line transaction processing and service offerings. We are looking for someone with skills that include MYSQL, transitioning to XML, as well as Java and Quicktime. If you have this skill-set and would like to work with us to bring a radical enhancement to this web site, we’d enjoy hearing from you.

Please send a brief e-mail with your CV and links to sites that display your work to Michael Reichmann.

April 8, 2004

In an article titled The Tyranny of Choice the current Scientific American magazine examines some of the same topics that I've been exploring in several recent essays. In Making The Right Choice I discuss the magazine article's premise. Read it to determine if you're a maximizer or a satisficer.

Alain Briot and Uwe Steinmueller, two photographers and writers whose names will be familiar to regular readers, are producing the Second Annual Digital Fine Art Photographers Summit. To take place in Phoenix in November, this three day seminar / conference will be of interest to photographers who care about their art and digital technology.

April 7, 2004

I have just published the last of my 8 Megapixel digicam reviews. This is of the just released Canon PowerShot Pro1. It is accompanied by a DxO Analyzer report.

Canon's horse in this race ends up running in the middle of the pack. It's not the best of the breed, but it's also not the worst.

Please note that this site's database server will be down between midnight and 6am Eastern U.S. time on Wednesday morning. This is for routine maintenance and a system upgrade. The main site will be unaffected but you will not be able to place an order for The Video Journal during these hours.

The January 2005 workshop in Bangladesh is now sold out. Thanks to everyone for your interest.

April 6, 2004

Phil Askey at DPReview has just published his review of the Nikon D70. He rates it very highly — superior to the Canon Digital Rebel in terms of build and also image quality. I haven't tested the D70 myself, and likely won't, but I have used one and it clearly is an excellent camera — possibly the best 6MP DSLR for the money.

But I have to laugh, because it's now Phil's turn to catch heat from the Pixel-Peeping Nit-Pickers. Whereas I've been the brunt of their attacks for a while, Phil (their erstwhile hero) is now seen as the Great Satan; in Nikon's pocket; anti-Canon, or some other such nonsense. But he'll catch a break tomorrow because that's when I publish my review of the Canon PowerShot Pro1. Trust me — the PP-NPs won't know what to think then.

My colleague Andy Biggs, who co-lead this past winter's Tanzanian Safari Workshop with me plans another one for next January. If you'd like to find out more here's a page with complete details.

My January 2005 workshop in Bangladesh, which was announced yesterday, now has just one place remaining. Going, going...

April 5, 2004

This is an announcement for my next major international photograph workshop. It will take place in Bangladesh in January of 2005. Bangladesh, you say? Yes – one of the most exotic locations for landscape, wildlife and cultural photography that you could imagine. Bangladesh is located on the Bay of Bengal, just to the east of Calcutta, India. Co-leading this photographic expedition is Pierre Claquin, a widely experienced photographer who has lived in Bangladesh for 13 years, and who intimately knows the people, the land and the language. Pierre is a French epidemiologist who has spent most of his professional life working and photographing in Africa, Central and South-East Asia.

There are only six places available on this workshop, and two of them are already spoken for. This 10 day adventure next January is expensive, and only a few dedicated and passionate photographers will have the time, the money and the passion to join Michael and Pierre on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Find out more about the Bangladesh Workshop now.

April 4, 2004

If the Japanese word bokeh doesn't mean anything to you, and especially if it does, you'll enjoy Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column this week, titled Bokeh in Pictures.

April 2, 2004

I'd like to thank the literally dozens of people that have written over the past few days supporting the position taken in my essay of earlier this week titled Let's Play Another Game. I have received more correspondence on this issue that on anything else that I have ever written. And remarkably, it has been 100% supportive.

I am unable to reply personally to everyone that wrote, and so a big public thank you to all.

My review of the Canon Pro 1 has been delayed until next week. Also, Issue #10 of The Video Journal is now in final preparation and we hope to ship some time later this month.

I just took delivery of my Epson 4000 printer this morning, after a delay of some 4 months. It appears that deliveries started this week in the U.S. and Canada. I have no information about delivery status anywhere else in the world. Apparently though this printer is going to be in a huge backorder situation for some time as I'm told that the factory is really backlogged.

My preview of the 4000, done a few months ago, will be updated in the weeks ahead as I gain experience with the printer. I also expect to have a review soon of the new V6.0 ImagePrint RIP for the Epson 4000.

April 1, 2004

In the world of digital imaging there is only one truth — the only constant is change. The constant that I've been giving a lot of thought to recently is the fixation that many people have with image quality, especially regarding testing, analyzing and comparing digital cameras based on online test reports and download files.

I've written on this topic twice in recent months, and now have done so again for what I hope will be the last time. This new essay is titled Let's Play Another Game, and it also points to a new direction that I'll be taking on this site from now on regarding my digital camera reviews.

The semi-finalist for March in the Great Iceland Photographic Expedition Draw is Ken Schuster of New Hampshire. Congratulations Ken!

Have you considered subscribing the The Video Journal? You could be the winner of a free trip to Iceland and a week-long photography workshop this July, worth U.S. $6,000. Remember — April is the last month in which you can enter this contest.

March 30, 2004

Canon's 1D Mark II will start to ship to retailers within the next week or so, and interest in this new model is very high. I have been testing a production camera for the past two weeks, and have shot something like 1,000 frames with it on location, primarily on a wildlife and landscape shoot in Nebraska and South Dakota.

My field review of the Canon 1D Mark II, the first such review to appear anywhere, is now online. Is this the ultimate DSLR for photojournalists, wildlife and sports photographers?

Updated with responses to some common questions.

March 28, 2004

Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column this week features a guest article by Steve Rosenblum. In it he describes his experience attending a Cone Editions Press Complete Digital Workflow Workshop

March 26, 2004

Many photographers, even most pros, carry a small pocket camera with them much of the time. Passionate photographers are always looking for images, testing themselves, and practicing the art of seeing. One of the sweetest little pocket digicams that I've yet seen is the Sony DCS-T1, and it is the subject of my latest review, including a DxO Analyzer report.

I have just returned from a three-day wildlife and landscape shoot in Nebraska and South Dakota, during which I was field testing two new Canon 8 Megapixel cameras, the 1D Mark II and the PowerShot Pro1. I am in the process of preparing my reviews and will have them online next week. But for those that can't wait for the bottom line on the Mark II — it is a truly remarkable camera, with image quality rivaling that of the industry-leading Canon 1Ds, and shooting speed and responsiveness exceeding that of any camera I've seen in the past 40 years. A stunning achievement.

March 22, 2004

I will be traveling on a shoot in Nebraska this week, field testing two new Canon 8 Megapixel cameras — the 1D Mark II and the PowerShot Pro1. Both are full production cameras. Why Nebraska — you ask? Because of the Sandhill Crane migrations. Every year around this time about a half million cranes decent on the Platte River valley in central Nebraska on their way to the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and Siberia. What better place to test a high-speed camera than this wildlife opportunity?

I am therefore now off-line until Friday the 26th and unable to respond to e-mails or forum discussions. Since my mailbox receives some 200 spams and viruses a day, on top of an equal amount of normal e-mail, please hold your correspondence until I get back. Otherwise my mailbox is bound to overflow.

My reviews of these two cameras, along with their DxO lab reports will both appear here before the end of the month.

If the coming of spring and the thought of a location shoot has you thinking, why not think about taking a workshop? My colleague Steve Kossack has several coming up this summer and fall. Steve is an excellent photography instructor and guide. He has helped me conduct and teach most of my field workshops over the past three years.

— There is still one place left on his Grand Canyon Rafting Expedition in May

— Steve has two Yosemite High Sierra workshops scheduled — one in August, and the second one in September

— Also in September Steve will doing doing a Colorado Fall Color Workshop

Speaking of workshops; I am now planning my next major international expedition / workshop. It will take place in Bangladesh in January of 2005. No firm details yet, but if the idea of a photographic adventure with a small group of like-minded photographers in an exotic location appeals to you, drop me a line and I'll put your name on the waiting list. There will only be six places available, and it's bound to sell out quickly.

See you at the end of the week with field results from the Canon 1D Mark II and PowerShot Pro1.

March 21, 2004

Mike Johnston is taking the week off from his regular Sunday Morning column. Unless you've been a constant reader for the past three years you may want to browse some of his back essays and articles. Mike remains one of the most consistently amusing, bright and annoying writers working in this field.

But, so that regular readers have something new to mull over this weekend, I've published today a brief new essay titled — Practice Mutha, Practice. Something that committed photographers should do every day. Also, an activity that will help alleviate the urge to indulge in too much pixel peeping.

March 20, 2004

Not everyone was as positively disposed toward the new Kodak SLR/n which I reviewed earlier this week, as I was. I have added a letter and some sample images received earlier today from professional photographer Jon Roemer, who also recently tested the camera.

I also would like to mention a correction to my Minolta A2 review. In it I mentioned that there was a firmware upgrade available, and that this upgrade fixed a "beat" problem that some early purchasers had seen. This is not the case. There was a firmware upgrade to all A2 cameras shipped in Canada, prior to release, but its only purpose was to allow the use of tele and wide-angle converters. It does nothing to affect image quality one way or the other. The error was mine, and I regret any inconvenience that it may have caused.

March 18, 2004

I've recently had a brief opportunity to test the new Kodak Pro SLR/n, the just released update to the Kodak 14n from last year. I was quite negative about the 14n when it was first released, but Kodak has vindicated itself with the new camera, which I have found to be able to produce very fine image quality, though some of the ergonomic issues remain.

The coincidence that Kodak chose yesterday to announce a Canon lens mount version of this camera will make this review of even broader interest to photographers of all stripes.

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of doing landscape and wildlife photography in Iceland. In fact I'll be leading two field workshops there this summer (sold out). I mention this because I just heard from Þórdís H. Yngvadóttir the editor and publisher of Icelandic Geographic, which publishes some very fine photography. She now has a web site online for the magazine.

An excellent new book has just crossed my desk. It's Tim Grey's Color ConfidenceThe Digital Photographer's Guide to Color Management. It is clearly written. beautifully illustrated and contains everything that a photographer needs to know about this oft-times confusing subject.

Whenever I write a negative camera or product review (and even sometimes when it's positive), I get scads of e-mail, most of it beginning with words something like... "How dare you insult the XYZ...? You're wrong. You're a jerk, Your mother wears army boots...". You get the idea.

Well, maybe all of the above are true (except the part about my mother — she's 94 years old and couldn't walk in army boots). I try to respond to such writers by telling them that what I have written is simply my opinion, but that opinion is seasoned with some 40 years of experience as a photographer, educator and reviewer. Since people like to know about what credentials a critic brings to his reviews, I've put together a page titled credentials. The intention is to provide some background as to the basis for my opinions.

March 18, 2004

Well, knock me over with a feather! Kodak announced today at the CeBIT show in Germany the DCS Pro SLR/c, their new 14 Megapixel DSLR, except this time in a Canon EOS lens mount. You'll find details and photographs at DPReview.

I would have been less fascinated by this announcement if (by total coincidence) I hadn't spent the day yesterday testing the Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n, the just introduced replacement for the 14n, which of course is in Nikon lens mount. When I tested the 14n a year ago I was not very impressed, especially with its image quality. But my initial tests of the Pro SLR/n show it to be capable of very fine images. I was impressed.

My Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n mini-review will be published here tomorrow.

March 17, 2004

Today sees a major new camera review, as well as an update to a previous one. Two DxO Analyzer reports are also provided for these cameras. Because of the inevitable strong interest in comparing these two cameras along with the previously reviewed Sony F828, I have decided to publish them at the same time.

The first report is an update to my review of the Olympus C-8080 camera from earlier this month. I now have had the chance to shoot with and test a full production version, and these results are now online. The C-8080 review update is here, and the accompanying DxO Analyzer report is here.

The Konica Minolta Dimage A2 is a remarkable new camera. Building on the strengths of its predecessors, it now offers so many unique features and capabilities along with its 8MP sensor that preparing a full field review took longer than I had planned. The review of the Minolta A2 is now online, as is the A2's DxO Analyzer report.


Enjoy reading and pondering these tests, but remember what photography is all about — the joy of recording the world around us in images that we can share with others. Whether it be family snapshots, vacation memories or fine art images hanging on a gallery wall, the technology of photography is only part of what our art and craft is about.

Also please remember to check out our unique publication, the The Luminous Landscape Video Journal — the world's only quarterly DVD video about photography. Each issue contains two hours of broadcast quality video, containing product reviews, interviews with famous photographers, shooting adventures in exotic locations and photographic as well as image processing tutorials.

Remember, this site does not accept advertising, and has no commercial relationships of any sort. Our only source of financial support is through your subscriptions. Find out more.

March 16, 2004

Sadly, my print exhibition at the Pikto Gallery in Toronto finished its run yesterday. I want to thank everyone who visited — especially those who made the effort to come from other cities. I enjoyed meeting many of you and look forward to another opportunity in future.


Natural History Photographer CC Lockwood, with whom I have co-led Master Photoworkshops in the Grand Canyon and on Lake Powell, is 6 months into a 4 year public awareness project that will culminate in two books, a traveling exhibit, and a 4 year webpage entitled

CC and his wife Sue are living full time in a house boat in the swamps and marshes of South Louisiana. This productive wetland is losing 24 square miles of land a year due to subsidence. His web page and journals are update biweekly. I urge you to visit his site and discover more about his project.


My Minolta A2 review which was scheduled for publication today has been delayed until Wednesday.


I recently received a final production version of the Olympus C-8080, which I revewed here earlier in the month. I have just completed a DxO analysis and hope to have it and my image quality evaluation online soon, likely by Friday.


If you live in or near Toronto I highly recommend a visit to The Art Gallery of Ontario this month. A photographic exhibit titled Manufactured Landscapes, by Edward Burtynsky, is on display until April 4th. The show consists of stunning colour prints shot on large format, showing the hand of man in the landscape. A unique perspective.


Sean Reid today continues his three-part review of the Leica Digilux 2 with Part Two — a field test, some exceptional photographs, and also a detailed image quality comparison with the Canon 10D.

March 14, 2004

Mike Johnston's Sunday Morning column this week is subtly titled Moving Pictures. See what you think.

The last two issues of your Video Journal were really top notch. You have arrived at a nearly perfect combination of articles to keep me interested and suit my needs. The production values keep improving. You are producing a really great and useful product. Thanks a lot, I very much appreciate what you have done".

Find Out More

March 11, 2004

A quick word of thanks to the literally dozens of people who have written in the past 24 hours with their comments and support for the thoughts expressed in yesterday's essay — The Case of the Nit Picking Pixel Peepers.

I am on the road this week and can't possibly reply personally to everyone, but I did want to express my thanks for the overwhelmingly positive feedback. Cheers!

My current print exhibit at the Pikto Gallery in Toronto closes this Sunday, March 14th. I will be at the gallery on Sunday from noon till 2pm to say hello to visitors who would like to chat about the show. I hope to see you there.

Epson has provided additional information on its R-D1 digital rangefinder camera that was displayed under glass at last month's PMA show. You can see additional photographs of this remarkable new Cosina designed 6 Megapixel Leica M mount camera and read more about it on DPReview.

March 10, 2004

Since my first-look review of the Olympus C-8080 camera last week a number of the Olympus faithful have been all shook up. I actually dared to criticize the camera, and noted several significant design flaws, while not even mentioning image quality (since Olympus asked me not to). Some of the Net's discussion forums have since been filled with Olympians ready to lynch me for writing such a negative review.

Disagreement is one thing, but amazingly not one of the comments that I've read on these forums has disputed my findings — they're simply pissed-off that I made them, and therefore take whatever pot-shots they can. So be it. But this does raise some interesting points about what aspects of a camera's capabilities are important. Since a number of new camera reviews will be appearing on these pages throughout this month, I explore this topic in my new essay The Case of the Nit Picking Pixel Peepers.

The last two issues of your Video Journal were really top notch. You have arrived at a nearly perfect combination of articles to keep me interested and suit my needs. The production values keep improving. You are producing a really great and useful product. Thanks a lot, I very much appreciate what you have done".

Find Out More

March 8, 2004

Contributor Sean Reid today gives us the net's first hands-on field report on the Leica Digilux 2. This is the first part of a three part review by Sean and photographer Ben Lifson.

I am currently shooting in Arizona, field testing the new Minolta A2. My net access will be intermittent this week and therefore I am not able to respond to e-mails and Forum messages as promptly as usual. I'll be back on Friday, March 12th. (My A2 review will be completed and published next week).

Newcomers as well a regular visitors to this site are reminded that we also publish the world's only quarterly DVD video about photography — The Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Each issue contains two hours of broadcast quality video, containing product reviews, interviews with famous photographers, shooting adventures in exotic locations and photographic as well as image processing tutorials.

Remember, this site does not accept advertising, and has no commercial relationships of any sort. Our only source of financial support is through your subscriptions. Find out more.

The last two issues of your Video Journal were really top notch. You have arrived at a nearly perfect combination of articles to keep me interested and suit my needs. The production values keep improving. You are producing a really great and useful product. Thanks a lot, I very much appreciate what you have done".

Find Out More

March 7, 2004

This Sunday Mike Johnston continues his look at truth in photography with his thoughts on what's involved in recording reality in photographs . It is titled Evidence, not Proof.

The last two issues of your Video Journal were really top notch. You have arrived at a nearly perfect combination of articles to keep me interested and suit my needs. The production values keep improving. You are producing a really great and useful product. Thanks a lot, I very much appreciate what you have done".

Find Out More

March 5, 2004

Dealing with digital camera noise, especially when shooting at high ISOs, has had many solutions over the past few years. But none are as effective as Noise Ninja. It delivers a karate chop to digital noise.

Due to a last minute cancellation contributor and well known landscape photographer Alain Briot has two openings on his Navajoland Workshop coming up mid-month. If you've got the time available on short notice this could be a great workshop to attend.

March 3, 2004

The second entry in the 8 Megapixel digicam derby to cross my desk for review is the Olympus C-8080. It should be in stores later this month. See how it compares to the Sony F828.

In addition to Steve Kossack's Grand Canyon Rafting Workshop, which I mentioned last week, Andy Biggs still has a few places left on his July workshop / safari in Tanzania. If you're looking for an amazing photographic adventure this summer you should consider one of these trips. These gentleman are both remarkable guides and instructors.

My Fine-Art Inkjet Printing seminar which took place this past Monday evening in Toronto was a sell-out, and there were several people left on a waiting list. The Canadian Photographic Centre has therefore scheduled another session for later this month — the evening of March 29th. I hope to see you there.

March 1, 2004 is a web site devoted to happenings in the arts in Toronto, Canada. The publisher Douglas Brown is also an avid panoramic format photographer. I mention this because the site's featured event this week and its cover page image is of yours truly and my current exhibit at the Pikto Gallery.

Doug Brown —

Doug — seen above while setting up for the shot that appears on his site — has agreed to write an article for The Luminous Landscape on his approach to panoramic photography. Watch for it in the weeks ahead.

The semi-finalist for February in the Great Iceland Photographic Expedition Draw is Derek Cook of Auckland, New Zealand. Congratulations Derek!

Have you considered subscribing the The Video Journal? You could be the winner of a free trip to Iceland and a week-long photography workshop this July, worth U.S. $6,000.

What's New listing for prior years are also available...

2004 Prior to the Above


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