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June 8th, 2014

Fake Chuck Westfall Unmasked!: Photographer Behind Controversial Canon Blog Reveals Why He’s Calling It Quits

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The real Chuck Westfall, a Technical Advisor at Canon USA for pro imaging products

If you follow the photo industry and, in particular, the world of Canon photography products, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Fake Chuck Westfall blog.

A direct descendent of the Fake Steve Jobs persona that humorously parodied Apple’s leading luminary on The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog, Fake Chuck Westfall has been spoofing Canon’s main camera guru and the photo industry in general since 2008.

Fake Steve Jobs turned out to be writer Dan Lyons but Fake Chuck Westfall has remained anonymous…until now.

After tweeting on the FCW Twitter account last week that he was planning to pull the plug on Fake Chuck Westfall, the man behind the controversial blog agreed to be interviewed by PDN to explain who he is, why he created FCW, and why he’s putting an end to it. (And no, it’s not because Canon is threatening legal action, as it did back in 2009, which turned Fake Chuck Westfall into a photo industry Internet celebrity and caused the blog’s traffic to skyrocket.)

So, without further ado, meet photographer Karel Donk, aka Fake Chuck Westfall. Donk will give a more in depth account of the entire Fake Chuck Westfall saga in a post on his blog on Monday morning. (UPDATE: Here’s Donk’s FCW farewell post.)

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May 15th, 2014

Sony Adds RX100 III, the Sequel to Our Favorite Pocket Camera of 2013

Sony just launched the pocket-friendly but powerful RX100 III, which is the follow-up to our favorite pocket camera of 2013. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill for a camera that’s just an 1.5-inch thick and weighs around 10 ounces.

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The Sony RX100 III is not an overhaul of RX100 Il — thankfully, since that was a very well designed little camera — and even uses the same 20.1-megapixel 1.0-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor as its predecessor. It also has about the same dimensions as the previous model — 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches — though might be slightly thicker.

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The new Sony RX100 III does, however, add some significant new features — particularly relating to the lens — including the following highlights:

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May 13th, 2014

Big Guns: Nikon Launches 400mm F/2.8 FL ED VR Super Telephoto Lens and 1.4x Teleconverter

Nikon unleashed a new super telephoto lens and tele extender this morning: the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens and 1.4x magnifying AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III. Sports photographers and wildlife shooters should find a lot to like here; the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 features improved autofocus, exposure accuracy and speed, while the teleconverter TC-14E III multiplies the focal length of Nikon lenses by 1.4x with reportedly only a one-stop loss of exposure.

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Unfortunately for those photographers looking to get their hands on these big guns they don’t go on sale until August 2014 and they won’t be cheap. The the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens will sell for $12,000, while the AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III will retail for $500.

Read more of this story here.

May 7th, 2014

Photo Book Publisher Blurb Gobbles Up Its Biggest Competitor, HP’s MagCloud

The photo book self-publishing landscape has gotten a little bit smaller. Do-it-yourself book publisher Blurb announced yesterday it had purchased its biggest competitor: HP’s MagCloud web-based publishing platform.

BlurbMagCloud differs slightly form Blurb in that it is more of a soft-cover, magazine-style self-publishing platform than than a photo book publisher.

According to a press release from Blurb, MagCloud will become a part of Blurb under a new licensing agreement.

Current MagCloud customers will see no changes to their service for three months. Current and new photo magazine layouts will remain on MagCloud for photographers seeking to print, sell or distribute them. Once that period ends, Blurb expects to move MagCloud users to the Blurb platform.

“Indie magazines are experiencing a bit of a renaissance, and we’re thrilled to welcome MagCloud customers to the Blurb fold,” said Eileen Gittins, Blurb’s founder and CEO.

We’re wondering what readers feel about this news? I reviewed Blurb a few years ago and found it to be very easy to use and reasonably priced service that produced good if somewhat unspectacular results. I’m less familiar with HP’s MagCloud service and I’m wondering whether those users have any trepidations about this merger.

Please leave your thoughts on this self-publishing development in the comments below.

You can read more details about the MagCloud and Blurb merger here.

April 24th, 2014

Leica Launches Leica T (Typ 701) Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera System (Hands-On Review)

Venerable German camera manufacturer Leica entered the modern world of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras this morning by introducing the new 16-megapixel Leica T (Typ 701) system. We got to test out an early production unit of the Leica T, which is being touted as much for its unique design as for its picture-taking skills.

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The Leica T was developed in collaboration with German car manufacturer Audi — the two companies worked together on the Leica M9 Titanium model four years ago — and features a striking, aluminum, unibody design, not unlike a Macbook Pro laptop from Apple. (Leica is not shy of this comparison, either.) Like many Apple products, the Leica T has a Spartan control set, with just two dials, a shutter and a video button, and a large 3.7-inch touchscreen on back.

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April 14th, 2014

New 51MP Pentax 645Z Medium Format Camera with CMOS Sensor Shoots HD Video and Will Sell for $8,500

645Z_wo_Food_Pentax became the latest company to introduce a medium format camera with a CMOS sensor tonight but the new model comes with several major twists. For one, the new 51.4-megapixel Pentax 645Z camera can shoot full HD video, which is a first for a medium format camera.

The Pentax 645Z is also one of the fastest medium format cameras on the market, capable of shooting up to three full RAW images per second. In contrast, the Phase One IQ250 digital back and Hasselblad H5Dc camera system, which both use CMOS sensors, can shoot at up to 1.5fps.

The Pentax 645Z is also weather sealed with 76 seals, making it cold-resistant, weather-resistant and dustproof; and it sports a 3.2-inch, tilting LCD screen on back with 1,037,000 dots of resolution, which are both firsts for a medium format camera.

Competitively Priced
But the biggest thing that differentiates the 645Z from its competitors might be its low price for a medium format camera. When it goes on sale in June 2014, the Pentax 645Z will sell for $8,499.95. In comparison, the Phase IQ250 retails for $34,990, and the Hasselblad H5Dc is selling for $27,500.

Read the rest of this story here.

April 8th, 2014

Adobe Launches Lightroom Mobile App for iPad; Here’s Our Hands-On Review

Photographers have been asking for a mobile version of Adobe Lightroom pretty much since the first iPad launched four years ago and, for some eager folks, even prior to that. Well, everyone finally got their wish tonight, as Adobe launched the Lightroom mobile app, which lets you edit and organize your images on your iPad. (The company says iPhone and Android versions of the app are also in the works.)

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While the Lightroom mobile app is free to download, you need to have one of Adobe’s controversial subscription plans in order to use it. The best current Adobe subscription deal for photographers is the Photoshop Photography Program, which costs $9.99 a month and gives you Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, along with some other features including 20GB of cloud storage. You’ll also need the latest iteration of Lightroom, which is at Version 5.4, to run the app, but that’s a free update and available now.

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April 6th, 2014

Sony Announces 4K-Shooting, Full Frame 12.2MP A7S Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Sony just took the wraps off a brand new full-frame interchangeable camera that can also shoot 4K video: the 12.2-megapixel Sony A7S. The Sony A7S joins the 36.4-megapixel A7R and 24.3-megapixel Sony A7, which were announced last year and are the first two mirrorless cameras with 35mm sensors.

Sony-A7SWhat differentiates the Sony A7S from those two models — and just about every other full-frame model on the market — is its ability to shoot 4K video. It’s no coincidence that this 4K-shooting camera was announced right before the NAB show in Las Vegas, which is traditionally the domain of high-end video products.

The Sony A7S also features a BIONZ X image processor, which lets it shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 409,600.

Read the rest of this story on the new Sony A7S on PDNOnline. 

March 31st, 2014

Olympus Unveils Rugged Stylus Tough TG-3 Waterproof Compact Camera

Olympus unveiled the latest in its series of rugged “Tough” compact cameras last night: the Stylus Tough TG-3. The 16-megapixel TG-3 features a 25-100mm equivalent lens with a maximum f/2.0 aperture on the wide end. It also has built-in Wi-Fi, GPS and new macro functions for close-up photography.

Olympus-TG-3_RED_FRONTThe Olympus Stylus Tough TG-3 is freezeproof to 14°F (-10℃), waterproof to 50 feet (15 m), shockproof from seven feet (2.1 m), crushproof to 220 pounds (100 kgf) and dustproof.

The TG-3 can also shoot 1080p HD video; sports a 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD on back, and is powered by Olympus’ TruePic VII image processor.

The TG-3 is available in black or red and goes on sale in June 2014 for $349.99. Fish, as seen in the Olympus-supplied press image below, not included.

More info here.

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March 19th, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Converting Your Photography Workflow to Apple’s New Mac Pro

(The following post was written by photographer Jeff Cable who recently purchased Apple’s much talked about new Mac Pro computer and reconfigured his photography workflow from the previous model. The story originally appeared on Cable’s blog in a slightly different form. You can follow Cable on his Facebook page.)

By Jeff Cable

After years of waiting to see if Apple was ever going to come out with a new Mac Pro, earlier this year Apple announced the new model for 2013. And then, after way too many months of waiting, my new Mac Pro has finally arrived!

Wow – what a difference in size between the old Mac Pro and the new one! The old Mac Pro was really large and built up some serious heat. During the summer it was painful to work on the machine as it did double duty as a computer and a heater in my office. This new computer is tiny in comparison and seems to run cool all the time.

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With that said, the size of the new Mac Pro is relative, in that there is only room for the one SSD and does not have space for any additional hard drives.

When I saw the announcement of the new computer, with no expansion options for internal drives, I was a bit put off. Storage is VERY important to me and I use a lot of drive space. Apple’s philosophy is to use external drives connected through Thunderbolt. This is supposed to be a very fast solution, but also adds more devices on my desk.

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