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What's New : Sept - Dec, 2004

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December 31, 2004

I am now gone until January 16th, leading a photographic workshop / expedition in Bangladesh. Fortunately that beleaguered country escaped the tsunami and earthquake of December 26th, and while we grieve for the lives lost and suffering of everyone in the region, we are gratified that the people of Bangladesh were spared.

During my absence, if you have any concerns regarding either this web site or the Discussion Forum, please direct your enquiries to system administrator Neil Cowley. If you have any questions or concerns about an existing or anticipated subscription to the Video Journal, please contact fulfillment administrator Steven Sauve.

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Planning what equipment to bring on a shoot half-way round the world is always a challenge. In my just-published article, Bangladesh – What's in the Bag and Why, I look at the choices that were made, and why I made them.

I have also updated my article titled Canon Lenses – A Personal Selection with comments on a couple of lenses that I added during 2004.

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Please remember that this site has no advertising or commercial relationships. It exists, and supports more than 30,000 visitors a day; over half a million people and more than 2 million page views monthly, solely based on revenue from The Video Journal. This is our unique quarterly DVD video publication. If this site is of value to you, please do consider starting the new year with a subscription. Remember, we offer a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied, and our DVDs will play on any computer or set-top player, in any country in the world. Shipping is also free to anywhere on the planet.

Subscribers interested in the technical side of our video production may be interested to know that beginning with this shoot in Bangladesh, all of our video for The Video Journal will be shot in 1080i high definition in 16:9 wide-screen format, using a recently acquired Sony HDR-FX1 high definition video camera. We'll also be adding a broadcast Sony HVR-Z1 when it ships in a few months. As soon as a Hi-Def DVD disk standard is available, likely later in 2005, we will start to make selected content available in this format. Of course we will continue to make all Journal content available in standard definition 4:3 format video as well.

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To everyone – my very best wishes for 2005. May the New Year bring you peace, health, prosperity and good images.

See you again on January 16th.

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December 29, 2004

The Epson R-D1 is the first rangefinder digital camera using the Leica M lens-mount. At first Leica said it couldn't be done, but Epson and Cosina / Voigtlander did it, and Sean Reid recently published his review of the R-D1 on these pages.

Sean now follows up with an exhaustive examination of eleven wide angle lenses for the R-D1, including three from Leica, and eight more from Voigtlander. The Field Report: 35mm and Wider Lenses for the Epson R-D1 is now online.

Regular readers know that I am leaving tomorrow for a two week photographic expedition and workshop in Bangladesh. Several people have written to express their concern, due to the tsunami and earthquake in the region just a few days ago. As tragic as that has been for many countries in the area, fortunately Bangladesh was hardly affected, with very little damage of any sort. Consequently we are proceeding with our trip, with heavy hearts for those affected elsewhere, but a determination to make the most of the opportunity that awaits us.

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December 26, 2004

It's been nearly a year since Fuji announced the S3 Pro. The delay between announcement and launch was caused by a total redesign of the camera's sensor chip. The S3 Pro has now been shipping, in the U.S. and Canada at least, for a couple of weeks, and I recently had an opportunity to spend a few days testing a production camera.

My report on the Fuji S3 Pro is now online, and while it's not intended to be a full test report (the weather was very poor and I didn't have much opportunity for extensive field work), I do explore how well the camera's new chip performs, and also look at the feel and handling of this fascinating new camera.

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December 25, 2004

I'd like to offer everyone my best wishes for the Christmas season. I hope that it brings you much warmth and happiness.

Out of an edition of 100 pieces, there are now just 25 copies of my Monograph to be made available. Also, the first 10 of 50 copies of my new and just published portfolio Illuminations have now sold out. Additional copies of both of these hand-made editions will be produced by mid-January. If Santa wasn't kind to you this year when it comes to inspiring fine art prints, you might want to consider ordering one of these unique collections as a present for yourself.

The Featured Image for December has been updated.

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December 23, 2004 (Updated)

Some announcements about new products, services and upgrades today. The first is that I have added a link to new workshops available from a very fine photographer and educator Craig Samuel. I have worked with Craig for several years and know him to be both a highly talented photographer, a conscientious teacher, and a very nice guy. I can recommend his workshops to you most highly.

You may have read my review of Visible Dust's Sensor Brush earlier this year. I regard it as the finest and safest method of cleaning your sensor currently available. They have just announced a new 40mm brush suitable for cleaning medium format back sensors. It is now available from their web site.

In August of 2003 I reviewed SilverFast's then brand-new DC-Pro Raw software. This company has a sterling reputation for their scanner software, but their initial entry into the publishing of Raw software was – shall we say – less than sterling.

But, that was then, and this is now. SilverFast has just released DC-Pro Studio, a vastly improved product. My initial impression is quite favourable. DC-Studio Pro now joins the ranks of Raw conversion software that I can recommend. I will have a comprehensive review online later in January (after I return from my Bangladesh expedition).

Phase One has announced a new Firmware upgrade (V3.0.6) for the P20 and P25 backs. This allows for the creation in the field of three separate custom white balance settings. Simply shoot a white or gray object with the focus area of the camera centered on it, and press a button. This white balance is retained by the back for future us, and any of the three settings can be replaced at any time. Very cool.

The H1 version will include support for the camera's built-in histogram display, and all versions will also provided EXIF information in the Raw file as well as overall stability improvements.

The version for the Hasselblad H1 is available now, and versions for Contax and Mamiya will follow in the second half of January.

Update: Digital Photography Review has just published their review of the Epson P2000 card storage / reader. My review appeared here last month. In it I praised the P-2000 quite highly, as does Phil Askey. The only problem is that I'm told that since my review appeared these devices have become extremely hard to find on retailers shelves. Now, with this new favourable review, the shortage is likely to get worse.

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December 21, 2004

Canon has just made available a firmware update ( V1.0.3) for the new 1Ds Mark II. It primarily addresses an improvement in autofocus tracking in AI Servo mode, but it also reduces the colour differences between Raw and JPG thumbnails, and reduces noise in long exposures. A firmware update for the 1D Mark II is also available. It address the same autofocus tracking in AI Servo mode issues, but also reduces turn-on time, and adds support for the forthcoming WFT-E1 wireless transmitter.

These firmware updates can be downloaded from the Canon web site via the links above. Do read all of the instructions and cautions carefully before proceeding.

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December 20, 2004

I've now been using the Phase One P25 22 Megapixel back in the field for about a month, for both fine art and commercial applications. My hands-on field report is now online. This is the third part of an on-going three part review done over the past five months.

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December 19, 2004

Adobe has announced the availability of a Public Beta version of Camera Raw which supports several recently introduced cameras, including the Canon 20D, Canon 1Ds MKII, Konica Minolta 7D, and even the as yet unavailable Nikon D2X. A couple of recent digicams are also supported. This new version works with Photoshop CS.

You can find out more, and download the Windows version here, and the Macintosh version here.

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December 17, 2004

The winner of the Grand Prize in our Next-Generation Digital Camera Draw is Scott McGee of Anchorage, Alaska. Congratulations Scott. The semi-finalist for December was Axel Habermann of Berlin, Germany, and the additional overall semi-finalist was Leah Corbin of Barbados.

Somewhat embarrassingly, the camera which was to have been the prize, and which was scheduled to be announced at Photokina in September, wasn't. I have no idea why not. And, please don't ask which company it was, as I won't say.

But, the value of the prize was announced as being up to U.S. $1,500, and so we are awarding Scott the full $1,500 as a cash prize instead. He's free to purchase whichever camera he wishes, or anything else for that matter.

There will be a new contest in January. But, in the meantime, remember that the purpose of these contests is to draw your attention to The Video Journal – the world's only DVD-based video about photography. Income from the Video Journal is what keeps this site alive. We accept no advertising and have no other commercial relationships.

Why not buy yourself a holiday present, or get a subscription for someone else as a present. You'll be happy, they'll be happy and we'll be happy. It's called a win-win situation.

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December 16, 2004

Photography is a highly diverse activity; from family snapshots with a disposable camera to remote-controled digital cameras on Mars.

Few photographers though, especially advanced amateurs, and even some pros, have ever visited, let alone worked in, a large commercial studio. I recently had an opportunity to spend part of a day at Pi Media Networks, one of Canada's largest commercial photography studios. They employ 40 fill-time photographers, and have over 200,000 sq/ft of studio space. In recent years they have also completely replaced their use of 8X10" and 4X5" drum scanned transparency film with medium format digital. I hope that you enjoy a brief inside look, and visit with, Pi Media Networks.

If you live in the Toronto area, and missed my sold-out seminar last month on Raw Workflow, it is being offered again by The Canadian Photographic Centre on Feb 7, 2005.

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December 13, 2004

Regular readers know that my colleague Chris Sanderson and I publish the world's only DVD-based video magazine about photography – The Luminous Landscape Video Journal. We're now going into our fourth year.

We are pleased to announce that we have recently acquired a Sony HDR-FX1 high definition video camera, and beginning with our Bangladesh photograph expedition, which starts in just three weeks, we will be filming all of our new content in 1080i High Definition video in 16:9 format. We'll also be adding a broadcast quality Sony HVR-Z1 when it ships in 2nd Qtr '05. (You can discuss this new technology with Chris on the site's Discussion Forum, if you wish).

Of course there are no Hi-Def DVD players on the market yet, but there will be beginning in the new year. In the meantime we will continue to release The Video Journal in standard 4:3 480i DVD format, (down-rezzed from 1080i), but we also will start to archive all of our shoots in Hi-Def. If everything settles down with the anticipated format wars (Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD), we expect that we could be shipping subscribers an HD version of the Video Journal some time in 2006.

As soon as the production technology permits there will be special offers of high-def editions of the Video Journal made to current subscribers, so why not consider a subscription now?

Of more immediate interest – coming up this week is an article on a visit to one of the world's largest commercial photography studios, where 40 photographers shoot more than 125,000 separate products a year. What makes this interesting is that they no longer shoot 8X10" and 4X5" film, but rather have adopted a complete medium format digital workflow.

Also later this week, I'll be publishing my full field report on the Phase One P25 22 Megapixel medium format back.

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December 9, 2004

One of the drawbacks of reduced frame DSLRs, like the new Canon 20D, is that for those wishing to shoot ultra-wide angle images, existing full-frame lenses can be somewhat limiting.

Canon has recently addressed this with its new Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. This is an ultra-wide angle lens designed exclusively for the Digital Rebel, 20D and future 1.6X factor EF mount digital cameras.

My just-published field and DxO test shows that's its a very fine lens, but, is it also a good investment?

Update: Was the Sigma 12-24mm lens that I used in my comparison to the Canon flawed. Read my updated comments.

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December 7, 2004

I don't know if I coined the expression, or someone else did; it doesn't matter. But as regular readers know I have been critical of pixel peeping for some time. The reason is not that it isn't informative, or even fun to test and compare different lenses, sensors and other photographic devices. But rather, that unless scrupulous attention to process and procedure is followed, and also is accompanied by a rigorous and in-depth understanding of what it is that's being compared, it really can end up as just a form of masturbation – possibly fun, but not terribly productive.

I was therefore interested in seeing a comparison by the well known on-line journalist Bob Atkins, on Photo.Net. You might enjoy reading it as well. Pixel Peeping Part One and Pixel Peeping Part Two.

A firmware update for the Canon 20D (V 1.1.0) has been issued. Please be sure to read the provided procedures information carefully before installing.

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December 5, 2004

It's the first Sunday of the month and that means a new column from Mike Johnston. Today's is titled The Best Lens for a Leica.

For photographers with new Canon 20D and 1Ds Mark IIs who don't care for Canon's provided raw software, there are several alternatives. Capture One 3.6 started shipping last week (for the Mac – a Windows version is due in a couple of weeks). Two other options that PC owners may want to look at are Bibble 4.1 and Breezebrowser Pro 1.0, both of which have new versions that support these cameras as well as most other Raw formats from the major camera makers. Bibble is available for Macs, PCs and Linux, and as a Photoshop plug-in as well as a stand-alone program. Breezebrowser is for Windows machines only.

Update: When I summarizing the Raw converters than can support the Canon 20D and 1Ds Mark II, above, I neglected the DxO Optics Pro Raw engine, available for both Mac and PC. The 20D is supported now, as are the Canon 300D-Rebel / 1Ds and 1D Mark 2. The Nikon D70 is also supported. Support for he Canon 1Ds Mark 2 will available in mid-January.

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December 4, 2004

The Home Page photograph has been updated, and is the subject of December's Miscellaneous Moment. The Featured Image for November has also been updated.

A reminder that this site is supported by subscriptions to our unique DVD video magazine about photography called the Luminous Landscape Video Journal. Your subscription or single issue purchase will be appreciated.

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December 2, 2004

As of today, arguably the finest 35mm DSLR is the new Canon 1Ds Mark II. The latest and probably greatest one piece medium format back designed for field use is the also brand new Phase One P25. Both have seen pre production previews on this site in recent months. Both are now shipping, and in late November I was fortunate enough to take delivery of these two new cameras and shoot with them for nearly a week in Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Though I pretty much knew what to expect from each of them because of my earlier tests, it was very informative to shoot with them side-by-side in a remote location. My Canon 1Ds Mark II vs, Phase One P25 report is now online.

Update:

I have added a minor update to the above comparison / review, having to do with how such high-end products are sold, and buying decisions made.

I am now mostly off-line until next week, enjoying a family visit in New York City.

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November 30, 2004

Over the past few years there have been several digital wallet type devices, and I've tested most of them. But all have been found wanting in some way. The drives were either too small, the screens tiny, they had poor Raw file support, and wanting battery life. But that has now changed with this month's introduction of the Epson P-2000, the first digital wallet that really can do the job. My field review is now online.

Phase One has announced the availability of Version 3.6 of their outstanding Capture One Raw software (Mac version). In addition to a number of new features there is expanded Raw file support, including a number of newly released cameras. The Windows version

Phase One: P 25, P 20, H 25, H 20, H 101, H 10, H 5, LightPhase
Canon: EOS 1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark, 1Ds, 1D, 20D, 10D, 300D
D60, D30, Pro 1, G5, G3, G2
Nikon: D1X, D1H, D2H, D100, D70
Fuji: S3 Pro, S2 Pro
Pentax: *istD
Olympus: E-1, E-10, E-20, C8080
Konica Minolta: Alpha 7D / Dynax 7D / Maxxum 7D, DiMAGE A1, A2

You can download a full-featured trial version of C1-Pro from www.phaseone.com or www.rawworkflow.com.

Though Halloween has passed, my new Home Page photograph, taken last week in Big Bend National Park, Texas, would have been appropriate for that holiday.

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November 26, 2004

For almost a year now Epson has been showing a prototype Leica M-mount rangefinder camera at trade shows. The Epson R-D1 is now finally shipping, and contributor Sean Reid provides us with an exclusive first field report on this unique new camera.

If you own a Canon or Nikon digital camera that came with Photoshop Elements, Adobe has a new, very compelling offer for you. You can upgrade to the full version of Photoshop CS for just US $299. The regular price of Photoshop CS is US $649. Canon owners can find out more about this offer here, and Nikon owners here.

Incidentally, Elements 3.0 is now in the stores. It still doesn't have curves, and some other aspects remain less full-featured than CS, but it's still a hell of a deal, because it now comes with Adobe Camera Raw built in, with full camera support, and upgradability as new CR versions are released.

The Home Page photograph has been updated.

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November 25, 2004

For most digital photographers setting White Balance is simply a matter of using the Auto setting on their camera, or selecting one of the pre-sets. But for critical workers, as well as product and fashion shooters, getting truly accurate white balance is very important. If you're in this camp, then a new, simple, but effective tool called WhiBal may be just what you're looking for. My review is now online.

Tomorrow will see here the first published major review in English of the fascinating new Epson R-D1 camera. You won't want to miss this, even if you're not in the market for a $3,000 Leica M mount digital rangefinder camera.

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November 24, 2004

After a week shooting in Big Bend National Park, in Texas, I am now back, and starting to get caught up. If you wrote will I was away, and are waiting for a response, please be patient.

In addition to the pleasure of shooting in a new location, and also the company of several friends who are also very fine photographers, I was working with my new Canon 1Ds Mark II, and also the Phase One P25 back on a Contax 645. These are both wonderful tools, though very different in their character and capabilities. I'll have much more to say on this, but just to give you a hint – the game isn't about megapixels any more!

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be publishing a Big Bend portfolio taken with these two systems, as well as separate field reports and comparisons of the Canon and Phase One. For the time-being, the new Home Page photograph is one taken in Big Bend with the Contax / P25 combo.

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November 17, 2004

I am now off-line until Tuesday, November 23. This trip is a landscape shoot in Big Bend National Park in Texas – one of the most remote and least visited of America's national parks.

There will be five of us shooting together, as well as cinematographer Chris Sanderson, who will be filming the shoot for an upcoming Video Journal. Each of these are talented photographers with a passion for nature and the rugged landscape of the southwestern United States.

I'll be shooting with my new Phase One P25, 22 Megapixel back, on a Contax 645 system, and also with the Canon 1Ds Mark II, (yes, it arrived yesterday). Other members of this shoot will also be working with P25s, as well as Canon 1Ds Mark II, 1Ds and 1D MKII bodies. (It's just coincidence that we all shoot Canon). There will be lots of opportunity for conducting comparisons and tests, but only when we're not to busy with our primary task – having a good time doing photography.

Please hold your e-mails until I return. Until then, kindly direct any issues regarding Video Journal subscriptions and purchases to Steve Sauve, and technical concerns about this site or the forum to Neil Cowley.

Remember – this site exists because of your purchases and subscriptions to the Video Journal. Check out our online video clips to find out what it's all about. Issue #11 is our best yet, and is now shipping.

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November 16, 2004

Shooting for a week with the new Canon 1Ds Mark II was, after two years with the original 1Ds, like spending time with an old friend who had just taken speed. Seems the same on the surface, but what a difference after spending a bit of time together.

No, it's not the jump from 11.1MP to 16.7MP that's the big improvement, though this roughly 25% increase in resolution now gives 35mm digital the same image quality as medium format 16MP backs. The real difference is in responsiveness. Find out more in my just published hands-on field review.

As noted last week, Canon has started shipping these cameras to dealers in most countries as of this week, though availability is bound to be limited for some time to come.

As for the new Home Page photograph – make of it what you will. I was walking along the beach-front in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago and came across this couple having their wedding photographs taken. She clearly was miffed at something, and my guess is decided to call her mother. You can make up your own story if you like.

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November 14, 2004

In my book, the two most competent raw file conversion programs available are Photoshop's Camera Raw, and Phase One's Capture One. This isn't the time or place for a comparison of the two. (But if you're interested and live in Toronto, you can attend my upcoming workshop titled Maximize Image Quality Using Capture One & Camera Raw. It is being put on by The Canadian Photographic Centre. This two hour lecture on Nov 29th costs CDN $75).

But, the one area where Phase One has fallen short is with regard to its marketing of Capture One. In a word, their product segmentation strategy has been a mess.

In an effort to set this right, Phase One has made the following announcement...

• C1-LE ($99) will now support the full range of RAW formats supported by C1-Pro.

• C1-SE will no longer be sold. The soon to be released C1-SE V3.6 version will be a free update to all SE owners, but will not be sold separately, and will then be discontinued.

• All SE users will get a free conversion to the next generation of C1-Pro edition, due out in the Spring of 2005

So, in other words, SE is toast, but current owners will be taken care of, and LE will not be limited any longer on what cameras are supported.

You can find out more on the official C1 software support forum run by Michael Tapes at www.RawWorkflow.com.

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November 13, 2004

There are only two companies in the world that make the very large imaging chips used in medium format digital camera backs. These are Kodak and DALSA. Last week I had an opportunity to visit DALSA's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. What I learned there is described in An Afternoon at DALSA.

The new Home Page photograph is now also the November entry on Miscellaneous Moments.

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November 11, 2004

As announced yesterday on Rob Galbraith's site, the Canon 1Ds Mark II will start shipping to dealers in the U.S. this coming Monday, Nov. 15. I can now confirm that this will also be the case in Canada. Initial shipments will likely go toward filling existing orders, with new orders placed now likely not to be filled till the backorder pipeline has been satisfied. My preliminary field report on this exciting new camera will appear here next Tuesday morning.

And – a reminder that Issue #11 of the Video Journal is now shipping. Quicktime preview clips are also now available for online viewing.

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November 10, 2004

A friend, Kevin Raber, and I had an opportunity to do a fall shoot for several days in Algonquin Park in Ontario last month. But the highlight of the trip turned out to be 40 minutes spent doing photography in Bunny Hollo.

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November 8, 2004

Long time readers know that for the past year acclaimed landscape photographer Alain Briot has been writing a nine part series of articles on Aesthetics and Photography for this site. I am pleased today to put online the eighth installment in the series titled – How to Create a Portfolio of your Work.

As these things sometimes happen, by fortuitous coincidence – I assure you, I am announcing today the availability of my new portfolio Illuminations. This is a collection of my best work from the past 3 years. Consisting of twenty 13X19" prints in a hand-made linen bound portfolio case, these prints were produced on an Epson 4000 printer using Ultrachrome pigment-based inks. The paper used is Entrada 190 Fine Art Natural, and each print is separated by an interleaving sheet. A pair of cotton gloves is included, as is shipping by FedEx to anywhere in the world. The price is USD $1,250.

You can find out more about Illuminations here. Portfolios are available for immediate shipment.

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November 6, 2004

If you live in or near Toronto you may be interested in a seminar that I will be conducting on the evening of November 29th. It is on RAW image processing, and is titled Maximize Image Quality Using Capture One & Camera Raw. It is being put on by The Canadian Photographic Centre. This two hour lecture costs CDN $75. There are only 30 spots available, and these usually sell out quickly.

The Home Page photograph has been updated.

Alain Briot's column for November, titled – How to Create a Portfolio of your Work will appear this week, and my IDs Mark II Field Report will be on-line by next weekend. In addition, this week will see the publication of a small photo essay titled Bunny Hollo. Have a great weekend.

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November 4, 2004

Issue #11 of The Luminous Landscape Video Journal has now been shipped to all current subscribers. Depending on where in the world you live, you should be receiving your disks within the next few days to a week.

There are now Video Clips from the new issue available online. These are low resolution Quicktimes, while of course the DVD is of broadcast quality. But they will give you a sense of this new edition. I believe that it is our best yet, and hope that you agree.

Note that new lower pricing for subscriptions as well as renewals is in effect, and also that you no longer need to become a subscriber to get the latest edition. It is available for just $19.95, though you'll save money if you subscribe to 4 issues over the coming year.

Find out what subscribers in more than 60 countries world-wide have already discovered – the world's only DVD-based video magazine for passionate photographers – The Luminous Landscape Video Journal.

Current subscribers should note that disk art in PDF format, for use with jewel box cases, can be downloaded for Issue #11, as well as all previous issues.

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One of the top photographic educators in America is Steve Johnson, who was profiled in Issue #10 of The Video Journal. (Click here for Video Clip). Steve has a workshop coming up in San Francisco on the weekend of November 13-14. If your schedule permits, I can recommend this workshop highly.

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November 3, 2004

How would you like to be able to shoot with a real monochrome digital SLR? No Bayer filter.

Professional fine art photographer Pete Myers did, and he became one of the few people in the world to own a Kodak DCS 760m. His experience of the past two years with this one-of-a-kind camera, as well as dealing with Kodak, is now available here in his exclusive review.

The Neat Image noise reduction program is now available as a Mac plug-In. My initial impression is very positive. I'll have a full review in a few weeks.

Phase One has just opened a new forum for the discussion of its software products as well as its medium format backs.

A reminder for readers who live in Toronto that I will be conducting a presentation titled Photography in the 21st Century, at the Toronto Camera Club tomorrow evening (Nov 4th).

Update:

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DPReview has just published a comprehensive review of the Canon 20D. Phil's conclusion is pretty much in line with the one that I arrived at on these pages in August and September. This is one fine camera.

Phase One has announced that by the end of November they will be shipping V 3.6 of their Capture One software. It will add support for several newly introduced cameras, including the Canon 20D, Pro 1 and 1Ds MKII, as well as the Konica Minolta A2, Olympus C8080 and the Nikon D2X and Fuji S3 (pending the provision of required technical data from these two companies).

Video Clips from the new Issue #11 of The Video Journal are now online. I'll have more information about the new issue on this page tomorrow.

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November 1, 2004

As on each first Sunday of the month, Mike Johnston today provides us with his latest look at the world of photography. This month's column is titled A Killer Digital Lens (And Other Digital Notes).

I have just returned from a week-long visit to Barcelona, where I enjoyed shooting about a thousand frames with the brand-new Canon 1Ds Mark II. After using a 1Ds almost daily for the past two years the Mark II was in most ways as familiar as an old shoe. Yet its new level of responsiveness made it a revelation, and, as you might imagine, the increase to 16 Megapixels brings with it as well a new level of image quality. A review will be available here by the end of next week (Nov. 12).

The semi-finalist for October in this site's Digital Camera Draw is Scott McGee of Anchorage, Alaska. Find out more about our video magazine, and how you could win the grand prize in December.

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October 28, 2004

Good news! Issue #11 if The Video Journal will start to ship to subscribers later today. I believe that it's our best issue yet. Depending on where in the world you live it may take a week or two for your copy to arrive.

I am traveling, and in Spain this week, with limited Internet access. As soon as I'm back in the office next week we'll have video clips and additional information about the new issue online.

There was a cut-and-paste error in the DxO chart of my Maxxum 7D review of earlier in the week. I can't fix it right now, because the original data is on a computer back in my office. The actual results though are little different from what is described in the text of the article; very good S/N performance.

Literally minutes before I left for Barcelona on Monday afternoon a taxi arrived at my door with a Canon 1Ds Mark II for field testing. I have been shooting with it in Barcelona for the past couple of days, and all I can say (as a 1Ds owner for the past 2 years) is – WOW. I'll have a full hands-on report available within a week to ten days.

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October 27, 2004

Konica / Minolta is about to start shipping its Maxxum 7D digital SLR. Though they are the last of the major Japanese camera makers to introduce a 6 Megapixel DSLR, Minolta's 7D turns out to be one of the most interesting. My exclusive review of the 7D is now online.

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October 25, 2004

Mike Johnston has replied to my rebuttal to his recent column, and I have now also rebutted his rebuttal. If you'd like to start at the top, here's Mike's new essay. If you've already read it, and my initial reply, here is where Mike's new comments start.

I will be traveling in Spain until Monday, November 1st. It's likely that I won't be able to be online often during that period, or to reply to e-mails and Forum messages frequently. Please hold correspondence until then, if possible.

Please remember that this site is supported through subscriptions to The Video Journal. Find out what thousands of passionate photographers, in dozens of countries around the world, already know. Find out more about The Video Journal.

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October 24, 2004

Though Mike Johnston's column is now monthly, as promised, he provides us from time to time with a bonus issue. This Sunday is one of those times.

His latest missive is titled Thoughts About "Full Frame". I have taken the liberty of adding a rebuttal to Mike's column. The debate is a fascinating one.

My Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D review will be published before mid-week, assuming that I can get online while I'm traveling.

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October 22, 2004

This site was hacked yesterday. By a teenager with no sex life, most likely. It turns out that the backdoor was via my Discussion Forum, which has a vulnerability. I have therefore turned off the Forum until new software that isn't vulnerable to attack can be installed. I regret any inconvenience.

UPDATE: 9:30am EDT

The Forum is now back online after being updated with a security patched version of the software. Isn't it sad that there are some who have such shallow lives that they have to resort to such antics for their pleasure? They really should take up photography instead. More fun, less damage.

Here's an offer – any bona fide hacker who will abandon their ways and take up photography is hereby offered free attendance at one of my upcoming workshops.

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Thursday was the opening day of Photo Plus Expo in New York. This is the first major equipment show following Photokina, and a lot of products were being shown in the U.S. for the first time. My show report is now online.

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October 21, 2004

Adobe has just published a new series of commissioned articles on digital image processing, which have just become available on their web site. My contribution is titled Making the Transition from Film to Digital, and can be found as the third item of the right hand-column, on the Abode web site, or directly here.

UPDATE:

Phase One will be announcing today Photo Plus Expo in New York their support for the new DNG format. Let's hope that other manufacturers become as enlightened.

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October 20, 2004

Owners of digital SLRs face an almost universal problem – sensor dust. I have written about this here and in magazine articles, and while there are a few products available that do a decent job, none can really claim to do an unreservedly great job. But now there is such a product. Actually, a family of products, from a company called Visible Dust. I review them in a new article titled Out Damn Spot!

If you've been keeping up with developments in the industry you may know that Adobe's announcement of a universal RAW file format has created a great deal of excitement. I wrote about it here a few weeks ago.

I'm a strong supporter of the new format, and if you are as well you will want to join me in signing an on-line petition to place some pressure on manufactures to adopt this new format.

The new Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D will be shipping soon. I am now shooting with this unique new DSLR, and expect to have my review online next week.

Those interested in Phase One's exciting new P25, all-in-one 22 Megapixel medium format back, will be pleased to know that both Hasselblad H1 and Contax 645 versions are now becoming available. These join Hasselblad V and Mamiya 645 versions, which have been shipping since summer.

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October 18, 2004

I regularly publish two pages featuring both the image taken each month that I am most pleased with, and also one that is a little too offbeat to appear in one of my regular reviews, essays or tutorials. I have now updated both the Featured Images and Miscellaneous Moments pages with entries for September and October.

If you live in or near the New York City area you may be interested in attending Photo Plus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center, this coming Thursday through Saturday. I'll only be attending the show for one day, on Thursday, but if you see me wandering the isles, do come over and say "hello". Sorry, but I won't be able to organize a dinner meeting of site regulars, as I have in some years.

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October 16, 2004

Several interesting new digital SLRs were announced recently, and are now close to shipping. These include the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D, the Canon 1Ds Mark II, and the Fuji S3 Pro. I expect to be reviewing all three camera over the coming weeks. But before I do I want to be sure that the many new readers that this site has gained since my last major round of camera testing are aware of how this site's digital camera reviews differ from those of other sites.

To this end I now have online a brief editorial titled Regarding Digital Camera Reviews.

I just spent the past two days on a landscape and nature shoot, working alongside Kevin Raber, the U.S. VP Sales for Phase One. More to the point was that I had the opportunity to compare side-by-side results from my familiar and highly regarded 16MP Kodak Pro Back against a full production Phase One P25. More on this in a few days, with some astonishing results.

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October 13, 2004

What's it like to attend a field workshop? Is it fun? Is it supposed to be fun, and if it's not, what should it be like?

These questions and more are addressed by Jack Perkins, in his essay titled Workshop's Worth. Jack was a member of my recent Algonquin Park Master Class, and if his name seems familiar it's because he spent several decades in television as a correspondent, anchorman, and host (first for NBC News, later A&E's Biography). He now devotes himself full-time to photography.

Update:

The new special issue from Photo Techniques magazine, titled Mastering Digital Photography, is now on newsstands. It features an article written by me titled Digital in the Field. It's a look at the contemporary tools needed by outdoor photographers. It is a very good issue, in spite of my contribution, and worth your attention.

Photographer and camera reviewer Peter K. Burian has gotten his hands on a production Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D, and has a few shots taken with it posted on the imaging review web site. Good scoop Peter. But I'll wait to draw any conclusions until I'm able to run my own hands-on tests – hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

Regular columnist for this site, Mike Johnston, has just published Issue #7 of the 37th Frame, his pdf-based photography newsletter. If you are passionate about photography, both the equipment as well as the art, you owe it to yourself to subscribe. Mike writes with insight and wit, and not a little acid on his pen. Highly recommended.

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October 11, 2004

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, where I live. It's also the Columbus Day weekend in the U.S., and likely some other Autumn holiday elsewhere in the world. (I know, it's Spring in the southern hemisphere, but they're upside down in any event.) So, happy holiday, wherever you live on this lovely planet.

More to the point, I am giving thanks today because Issue #11 of The Video Journal has just gone to the duplicator, and should start to be shipped to subscribers before the end of the month. This issue is late, because Chris and I spent almost the whole month of July working in Iceland, and then Chris lost another month of editing when his office was in pieces during a house move over the summer.

Enough excuses: we now hope to get back on schedule starting with Issue #12. And as for #11, we're confident that it's our best issue yet, containing a major travel segment on Costa Rica, along with techniques needed when shooting wildlife in the rainforest. There is also an in-depth interview about colour printing with Ctein, who was once described by Kodak Corp., as the world's greatest colour printer. Ctein is also one of the last people in the world still doing Dye Transfer printing, and in Issue #11 we show a full in-the-darkroom session on how this most lovely of colour processes is produced.

If you're a subscriber, you have a lot to look forward to. If you're not one yet, what are you waiting for?

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October 9, 2004

Possibly the most challenging aspect of developing ones abilities as a photographer is learning how to see. Not easily taught, and even more difficult to master, it is something that we need to work on almost daily if our craft is to rise above the mundane, and our abilities made able to match our aspirations.

In a new essay titled Learning to See I explore this issue, and provide some suggestions on how to find ones vision.

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October 7, 2004

Canon has just made available Firmware Update 1.0.5 for the new Canon 20D. This update fixes the lock-up problem that some users where experiencing. Note that this update also addresses the bug which caused Update V1.0.4, released briefly last week, to fry some cameras. I have installed this new update without incident. It only takes a few minutes and you should have no trouble, as long as you follow the directions carefully. Cudos to Canon for addressing these problems promptly.

This is a reminder that the Second Annual Digital Fine Art Photographers Summit hosted by Alain Briot and Uwe Steinmueller will take place in Phoenix, Arizona on November 12th, 13th and 14th. There are still spaces available.

I announced on this page a couple of weeks ago that Epson is shipping a new A3-sized printer in Japan. A Tokyo-based reader has now kindly provided us with a translation of the specs and also some additional information on this new printer.

DSDK-TV in St. Louis, Missouri has chosen the Luminous Landscape as their web site of the day.

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October 6, 2004

I've just returned from conducting a 4-day Master Class workshop in Algonquin Park, Ontario. The group consisted of nine very talented photographers, and we enjoyed working together in this beautiful locale. Our focus was on composition, esthetics, and, to a lesser extent, image processing techniques. It was a pleasure to work with people who, while they care about the camera equipment that they use, are not fixated on it, as so many are. In other words, photographers.

When it comes to a digital camera, what's enough for you? Our columnist Mike Johnston has given it some thought, and shares this with us in his new essay, Mo' Betta.

The new home page photograph was taken last weekend in Algonquin, during the workshop. It's a postcard, but a pretty one. It captures though the soft light of dawn on a quiet northern lake.

Regular readers know that I have been conducting workshops in Iceland each summer for the past few years. I have been assisted in these by Icelandic nature photographer Daniel Bergmann. Daniel is possibly the finest nature photographer working in Iceland, and has two photographic books on that country to his credit. Daniel knows Iceland the way only a native can.

Daniel has just one place left on his own workshop from June 27th - to July 6th, 2005. If you're looking for an exciting photographic workshop and exploration, in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes, then I can highly recommend this trip to you.

The semi-finalist for September in the Next-Generation Digital Camera Draw is Vivien Cotton from the U.K. Congratulations Vivian!

Have you thought about supporting this site? If you subscribe to The Video Journal you will be helping this site to exist, and also will have a chance to win a great new digital camera. Oh ya, and the Video Journal is really terrific.

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October 1, 2004

Tamron, the parent company of the Bronica brand, blaming "the advent of digital photography", announced today the worldwide discontinuation of Bronica SLR cameras and accessories as of October 31, 2004. RIP.

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September 30, 2004

Yesterday appears to have been a relatively quiet day at Photokina, with most of the major announcement (except for another two dozen digicams) having been made the day previous. There are though a few items which you may find of interest that aren't trade show related.

John Shaw, one of the leading lights of contemporary nature photography, has just published an eBook titled John Shaw's Photoshop Field Guide. I have a copy, and it is a really excellent introduction to the digital darkroom for nature photographers. Recommended.

Good profiles are a virtual necessity for high quality inkjet printing. It costs a lot of money and some effort to purchase the equipment to make these yourself, and most people don't bother. But the profiles that come with most printers or papers are rarely first rate. The alternative then is to have someone with the proper gear and skills make a custom profile for your printer, your inks, and your preferred paper. There are a number of people on the net who provide such service, but one that I recently had the opportunity to try myself was christophe métairie photographie, and I was very impressed with the results. Recommended.

I will be mostly off-line from now until Tuesday, October 5th. I am conducting a Master Class field workshop in Algonquin Park, in Northern Ontario. If anything exciting happens at Photokina though, I'll do my best to stay abreast, and to keep you informed here.

Update: 8:00am EDT

The Mamiya ZD 22 Megapixel camera continues to be the most exciting new announcement of the show for many pros. Photo District News has just published at pdnonline a further look at the camera by David Schloss, with some additional details, including the fact that the launch will be some time in Q1 2005, and that this camera, along with the ZD backs for the Mamiya 645 and 67 cameras, may well mark the end of Mamiya's development of film-based products. It certainly looks though as if Mamiya caught the other medium format manufactuerers asleep at the wheel.

Assuming that the final price is as aggressive as rumoured, this camera will certainly challenge Canon's recently announced 16 Megapixel 1Ds MK II among some editorial and fashion photographers, as well as those shooting weddings, product, feature and similar work. It, and the digital ZD backs, will also place some considerable price pressure on other medium format back makers. In the end the winners will be us – photographers, who are greatly benefiting from the breakneck speed with which technology is now providing us with superior imaging tools. (Remember when camera upgrades appeared every 6-8 years?)

For those that want a glossy brochure on the Mamiya ZD, here is a PDF file.

PhotoTeKNiK announced today the release  of Version 1.5 of ImageDuster PRO. This program is designed to remove dust spots from image files. It is available for Windows only at the moment. A Photoshop plug-in and Mac version are promised for later in the year. I have not yet tested this program but plan to in the near future.

One more thing – remember: The Luminous Landscape web site exists and is supported solely by your subscriptions and individual issue purchases of The Video Journal dvds. We carry no advertising, either on the site or the dvds, and we have no commercial relationships. Without your support for The Video Journal this independent site can not continue to exist. Click on one of the links above or below and find out more. Thanks.

Oh yes – Issue #11 will ship in a few weeks. I think It's our best issue yet!

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September 28, 2004: Update: 10:30pm EDT

It hasn't been formally announced yet, (as of this morning), but there's a teaser on the Mamiya Japan web site for a new 22 Megapixel medium format back called the ZD. It looks like it will fit both the 645 AFD and 67 RZ camera models. But what is intriguing is the image of what appears to be a stand-alone body unlike anything seen before from Mamiya. Fascinating.

Though not a Photokina item, I recently have been made aware of a site, CleaningDigitalCameras.com, which is devoted to just one thing, explaining the appropriate tools and methods for cleaning DSLR sensors. The information is similar to what I've been teaching and writing about, though it goes into greater depth than ever before. Recommended, though, be careful.

And then there's the Zeiss Ikon, Zeiss' mystery camera. Apparently this will be a film body initially, but a digital rangefinder based on it may come later. Spring 2005 introduction, but no pricing information yet. A set of completely newly designed Zeiss lenses is also to be made available for the Ikon. Oh yes, did I mention that it uses the Leica M lens mount :-)

In an interesting turn of events, Hasselblad is going to be the exclusive distributor for the Zeiss Icon outside of Japan. So, let's see. Zeiss is making a Leica lens mount camera which will be distributed by Hasselblad. In the meantime Hasselblad's H series camera use Fuji instead of Zeiss lenses. But it is rumoured that Fuji will be the Ikon distributor in Japan. We live in interesting times.

Zeiss also announced that they are teaming up with Sinar in the medium format digital area with four Sinaron Digital autofocus lenses. More from Zeiss later today.

Epson has what appears to be the replacement for its venerable 2100/2200 printers on its Japanese web site. The PX-G5000 is an 8 ink, 5760X1440 A3-sized printer, with 1.5 picoliter dots. The inks apparently have a wider colour gamut and better compatibility with glossy papers. Until someone who reads Japanese can tell us more, that's all we know. Over the past 5 years the usual pattern is for Epson is to announce new printers in the Fall for their domestic market, and then for them to become available in Europe and North America in the Spring of the following year. So, it will likely be at least April till the 5000 (or whatever it's eventually called here) becomes available.

Phase One announced today at Photokina a trade-in program under which buyers will receive up to U.S. $10,000 for any non-Phase One digital back in working condition, against the purchase of a Model P25, 22 Megapixel back. Phase One also revealed that they have started to ship the Hasselblad H series version of the P20 and P25, and that the Contax 645 version will ship before the end of October.

Possibly the most interesting announcement from Photokina so far, at least for professional photographers, and anyone seeking superior image quality, is the Mamiya ZD. This self-contained 22 megapixel back uses a Dalsa CCD chip and accepts Mamiya 645 lenses. Mark Peters at LetsGODigital.com now has a hands-on show report along with numerous additional photographs of the camera. No word yet on price or availability, but if the rumoured price of EUR 10,000 is anywhere near accurate, then every other medium format camera and back maker is going to start to sweat – big time.

Incidentally, doesn't this remind you of what a Pentax 67 digital would have looked like, if Pentax hadn't abandoned its place in the current digital medium format environment?

Leica was at Photokina demonstrating its 10 Megapixel CCD digital back, designed to fit Leica R8 and R9 camera bodies. Only trouble is, it's as big as and even heavier than the upcoming medium format 22 Megapixel Mamiya ZD. Leica is pointing out that this is the first hybrid camera system; able to shoot film as well as digital with the same body. But why would anyone want to keep shooting film once they had this back? It seems to me that the real market for this back is simply current R8 and R9 owners. As for price – don't ask. Well, since you did, it's EUR 4.500 for the back alone.

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September 27, 2004

What may end up being seen long-term as one of the most significant announcements at this year's Photokina trade show is Adobe Digital Negative Format. Made public today for the first time, DNG is intended to tear down the growing raw format Tower of Babel. Find out what it's all about in this exclusive report, and then download your own free copy from the Adobe web site..

Also, Adobe has today release Camera Raw 2.3. This is a free download for Photoshop CS. It provides support (both official and unofficial) for several new cameras (including, unofficially, the Canon D20), as well as featuring a number of functional enhancements.

Today is Press Day at Photokina, and we can expect a barrage of new products to be announced, in addition to the ones that we've already heard about. I am not at the show this year (I'm conducting a field workshop later this week, and was already in Europe already earlier this month). But several of the usual digital content sites will be providing news as it becomes available, including dpreview and Letsgodigital. Unfortunately I know of no web site that will be providing coverage of non-digital products. What that has to say about the state of the photographic marketplace is all too telling.

As the week progresses and I hear about new products of interest, I'll provide links here, so check back often.

Update:

This morning Olympus announced the EVOLT E-300 4/3rd format DSLR. It has an 8 Megapixel CCD imaging chip, and a sideways swinging mirror assembly, similar it would appear, to that of the half-frame Olympus Pen-F of the 1960's. The link above is to an Olympus America press release reproduced here for your convenience, as it does not yet appear to be on the Olympus web site. Two new consumer lenses, the 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 and 40-150mm f3.5-4.5 Digital Zoom have also been announced. In their pro line Olympus has added the Zuiko ED 7-14mm f4.0 zoom lens.

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September 26, 2004

I spent last week on vacation in Paris. Fortunately, the Canon 20D and 17-85mm IS lens, which I had on order, arrived just hours before I was to leave for the airport. I've now have had the chance to shoot many hundreds of frames with this system, and find that the camera performs as well as I had believed it would, based on my review of a pre-production camera, published here earlier this month. My brief field report on this camera and lens is now online.

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September 25, 2004

Foto-Espresso is a new bi-monthly newsletter published in PDF form, and available for download without charge. One of the founding editors is Uwe Steinmüller, the publisher of Outbackphoto.com. Foto-Espresso is available in both English and German versions. Issue #1 focuses on raw workflow, and looks at the leading raw conversion programs available.

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September 23, 2004

What separates a snapshot from a fine-art photograph? Is it the equipment used? Certainly not! Is it the original intent of the photographer? Not always. Is it the subject matter? Occasionally, but not necessarily. How about technique?

It's none of the above. Ultimately it's about seeing, opportunity and preparedness. In a new essay titled From Snapshot to Fine Art, I explore the esthetic as well as technical steps along the road.

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September 21, 2004

Rumours have been buzzing around the net for a few days, and some who should have been better informed were in denial about it, but it's finally official. Canon has announced the 1Ds MKII, a 16.7 megapixel full-frame replacement for the original 11 Megapixel 1Ds, which is now two years old.

The camera has a turn-on time of just 0.3 seconds, and is capable of four frames per second at full resolution, for bursts of up to 32 JPEG, or 11 RAW images (compared with 3 fps for up to 10 frames on the original EOS-1Ds camera). The camera also offers ISO speeds from 100 to 1600 in 1/3-stop increments, and is also capable of ISO 50 and ISO 3200. As with the just-released 8 megapixel Canon 20D, E-TTL-II flash metering technology and the Digic II image processing chip are featured. The 1Ds Mark II will have a retail price of approximately U.S. $8,000, and shipments will begin in November.

Canon has not provided review samples yet, but I expect to have one for field testing shortly, and will then try to provide answers to the questions that many photographers will want to know most, such as – is the upgrade from the original 1ds worthwhile, and, how does the image quality compare to a 16MP medium format digital back? You can read more comprehensive specs based on Canon's pre-release literature, on the usual digital camera review sites, including dpreview.

The Home Page photograph has been updated with a new image taken this week in Paris with the Canon 20D.

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September 20, 2004

Another photograph taken in Paris is now on the site's home page; This one shot yesterday morning just before dawn, along the left bank of the Seine. And before anyone wonders about the colour – it was deliberately desaturated, to better capture the feel of the early-morning Fall light.

One of the members of my upcoming (in just 10 days), Algonquin Park / Muskoka Master-Class Workshop has had to cancel. There is therefore an opening, if you are able to join a small advanced workshop, photographing fall colour on the Precambrian shield of North-Central Ontario. This is not a workshop about photographic instruction; It is a master-class intended for advanced photographers who wish to work intensively with others, and who wish to have a peer-level portfolio review, as well as one by Michael Reichmann. First-come, first served. Check the description, and then drop me a line if you'd like to join. I'll let you know what to do next. Update: This spot has now been take.

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September 17, 2004

Regular readers of this site know that I occasionally use a simple technique in Photoshop for adding a diffuse glow to some images. This is a contemporary equivalent of using a soft focus filter, except that I find it to be more effective. I have just published a mid-level tutorial written by our new contributor, Glen E. Mitchell, on how to accomplish this. It is titled Giving Your Photos A Glow.

I am currently on vacation in Paris for a week, and will be unable to log on as often as usual, so I may be slow in responding to e-mail until late next week. But I am working with the new Canon 20D and 17-85mm IS lens, and will be publishing some photographs taken with this combo in Paris, from time to time. The first of these is now found on the site's home page.

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September 16, 2004

The long (and eagerly) anticipated Nikon D2x has been announced today. It features a 12.4 Megapixel DX format (1.5X cropping factor) CMOS chip (yes, CMOS!), and is capable of 5 FPS for 15 consecutive raw (NEF) files. Nikon is finally back in the game.

Other Nikon products announced include a 300mm f/2.8G Vibration Reduction lens, and the 8 Megapixel Coolpix 8800 digicam with a 35-350mm (Equiv) f/2.6-f/4.9 zoom, with Vibration Reduction as well; Nikon's first digicam with VR.

Rob Galbraith has a very comprehensive First Look at the D2x. Other sites with D2x information include pdnonline, and DPReview.

And, wonder-of-wonders (though its been rumoured for some time), they have also announced the Nikon F6 – film camera. Bravo to Nikon for continuing to support the huge base of loyal pros and amateurs alike who are still using film.

Workshops Update: Three of the photographic educators that I regularly work with have announced availability of new workshops. Andy Biggs has a few spaces on his February 2006 African Safari Work ship; Alain Briot has announced five new workshops in the American Southwest for 2005, and Steve Johnson has had 3 seats open up unexpectedly for his Mono Lake and Eastern Sierra field workshop next month – October 9 - 11, 2004.

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September 15, 2004

The current home-page photographer, taken just last week, has generated a lot of interest both on the discussion forum, and in some private e-mails. I have now placed online a brief description of how it was made, and along with it two other photographs made that morning, in Mennonite country.

UPDATE: As part of the lead-up to the bi-annual Photokina show in Germany, which begins later this month, there were two interesting new product announcements today. The first is Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0. The big news here is that this new version provides Camera Raw capability. One no longer has to have the full version of Photoshop to be able to utilize this powerful and universal raw converter. Retail price will be $99.

The second announcement of interest is the long-awaited Minolta Maxxum 7D; Minolta's first DSLR. It features a 6 Megapixel chip with a 1.5X cropping factor. The big news here is that it offers Minolta's Anti-Shake technology built into the body, and thus is able to work with all existing Minolta lenses. There's nothing here that will likely cause someone to bolt from another camera makers camp, but for anyone with a selection of Minolta lenses, this camera will provide an excellent migration path into digital. No firm price or delivery date yet, though almost certainly during the last quarter of this year.

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September 12, 2004

When he switched from a weekly to a monthly column earlier this year, Mike Johnston promised us that he hoped to be able to provide an extra column from time to time. Today is one of those days.

A reminder to those who put their names on the Antarctic Workshop waitlist. As mention in yesterday's What's New – it is now sold-out. With more than 50 people on the list beforehand who had added their names from previous workshops, and with an additional 200+ who placed their names in the queue within the first 24 hours, I'm afraid that there were far more people wanting to join this trip than there were spaces available.

And an additional reminder to new as well as regular readers; This site exists because of subscriptions to the Luminous Landscape Video Journal, the world's only quarterly DVD video about the art and technique of photography. Find out more by clicking on one of the links below. Support this site, and help keep it alive and free from advertising.

UPDATE: Phil Askey at dpreview.com has published the first Preview look at Fuji's new S3 Pro DSLR. The big news is the use a redesigned SuperCCD SR imaging chip, which promises to deliver extended dynamic range, (though in the past when used in several digicam models this has meant more promise than delivery). The 6 megapixel S3 Pro, as was its predecessor the S2 Pro, is based on the Nikon N80 body and lens mount. It has what appears to be a smoother and more ergonomic design over its predecessor, though it is huge in physical size compared to its competitors. Since Phil's sample is a pre-production model, there are no test images, or image quality conclusions as yet. No price or availability date yet either, though shipment is certain to be within the next couple of months. A read of initial responses on various discussion forums from Fuji aficionados appears to be one of considerable disappointment. Time will tell.

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September 10, 2004

Yesterday I contacted those people who had registered early for my December, 2005 Antarctic Workshop Expedition, and also those who were on my long-term workshop waitlist. The workshop sold-out all 47 available places within the first 24 hours.

If you were one of the people who was on the waitlist, but who was not contacted, this was the case because the list was so large that I only contacted people in small numbers, based on their order on the list. Once all the ship's berths had sold out, no further e-mails were sent. If you were on the list, and didn't hear from me, please note that your name is still being retained, and if there is a drop-out during the registration period, or a cancellation afterward, I'll be in touch with you in the order in which your request was received. Thanks for your interest.

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There is a problem with this site's server this afternoon that is sometimes preventing Discussion Forum postings, and workshop registrations. We are working to correct this. Normal page viewing seems to be working fine. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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The photograph on the Home Page has been updated with one taken just this week.

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September 8, 2004

Most photographers know that the easiest way to improve the quality of their photographs is to use a tripod. Experienced photographers wanting to work quickly and efficiently know that a high quality ballhead, along with quick-release plates, is vital to effective field work.

Really Right Stuff, the maker of some of the finest camera mounting equipment available, has just started shipping their long-awaited BH-55 Ballhead; My hands-on review is now online.

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September 7, 2004

With the bi-annual Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany, now just 3 weeks away, we are going to see a flurry of new product announcements in the days ahead. One of the first out of the gate is from Leaf / Creo, with their Leaf Aptus 17 / 22 medium format digital backs. Following the lead of Kodak, with its now discontinued DCS Pro Backs, and Phase One's newly introduced P20 / P25 models, Leaf / Creo now too has a range of self-contained medium format digital backs.

These backs offer a huge rear panel LCD touch screen, equal in size to a 6x7cm transparency. The back has a self contained Compactflash slot as well as the ability to connect to Leaf's external 20GB Digital Magazine, or any Firewire drive. Bluetooth wireless connectivity also allow control of the back through a Compaq Ipod. All major medium and large format cameras are supported. Availability is projected as being Feb., 2005.

We can expect to hear other significant announcements soon from both medium format camera makers as well as companies making digital backs. While their high prices make these of interest primarily to professional photographers, such backs are now at the leading edge of the digital revolution. Those over the past few years who discounted medium format as a dead-end, are now about to see, that as Mark Twain once remarked; the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

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September 6, 2004

Workshop Update: I expect to be contacting people on the Antarctic Workshop waitlist in a few days. You will be contacted on a first-registered, first-notified basis, and spaces will be assigned similarly. So, if you're on the waitlist, and receive an e-mail, be prepared to sign up as quickly as possible.

Regular readers know that I have been conducting workshops in Iceland each summer for the past few years. I have been assisted in these by Icelandic nature photographer Daniel Bergmann. Daniel is possibly the finest nature photographer working in Iceland, and has two photographic books on that country to his credit. Daniel knows Iceland the way only a native can.

I have no plans at the moment to do a workshop in Iceland in the summer of 2005, but Daniel has just announced his own workshop from June 27th - to July 6th, 2005. If you're looking for an exciting photographic workshop and exploration, in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes, then I can highly recommend this trip to you.

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September 5, 2004

Regular visitors to this site know that the prolific and perceptive photographic author Mike Johnston is a regular contributor to this site, and has been doing so for several years. His column for us for September is titled Bronicas and Robot Friends: What I Did Last Summer.

Mike also publishes a terrific newsletter titled The 37th Frame. Mike has now switched from print to PDF distribution. As in his columns for this site, Mike is a penetrating observer of the photographic scene, on topics both esthetic as well as technical.

If you're interested in fine-art digital print making visit the Digital Printmakers Guild for details on a series of open houses taking place in various locations around the U.S.

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September 2, 2004

Glen Mitchell provides us today with a new Photoshop tutorial on using tone-based masks, titled Masking by the Numbers. The Home Page image has been replaced with another one from July's trip to Iceland.

Please remember to support this site though your subscriptions to The Luminous Landscape Video Journal

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September 1, 2004

The semi-finalist for August in the Next-Generation Digital Camera Draw is Don Dement of Annapolis MD. Congratulations Don!

For regular readers as well as newcomers — a reminder that this site accepts no advertising, has no commercial relationships, and is supported solely through subscriptions to The Luminous Landscape Video Journal; the world's only magazine-format DVD video publication exclusively about photography. Click on one of the links immediately below and find out more. If you don't, who will?

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

2004 Prior to the Above
2003

2002
2001
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1999
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