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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.

Olympus-TG-3-fish

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.

Mac_Comparisons_back_sm
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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March 5th, 2014

New Pro Cameras and Lighting Gear Debut at WPPI Show in Las Vegas

Nikon-D4S-1I’ve been pounding the WPPI show floor in Las Vegas this week for our sister publication, Rangefinder magazine, covering what’s new in the world of photography gear. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights from WPPI, which saw quite a few new pro cameras debut in the U.S. at the show.

Follow the links for the full posts on Rangefinder’s blog, Photoforward.

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February 26th, 2014

Cinetics Intros Axis360 Motorized Camera Slider and Quickly Hits Kickstarter Goal

Axis360-1Cinetics is a company we’ve been following since its deceptively simple CineSkates camera dolly system caused a splash back in 2011. That product, which was introduced on Kickstarter and quickly made its funding goal, was followed by CineMoco, a more sophisticated motorized camera dolly that also easily hit its Kickstarter pledge mark.

So what does Cinetics do for another encore? It introduces the Axis360, a compact, motorized tripod head and slider system which — you guessed it — made its Kickstarter goal of $75,000 yesterday, less than 24 hours after it was launched.

The Axis360 slider, which is designed to help photographers and cinematographers create dynamic panning, tilting and sliding video along with timelapse photography, has collected nearly $110,000 in pledges from 150 backers at the time of this writing.

Here’s how Cinetics describes its new motorized slider in a press release about the product:

“Axis360 is an automated motion control system that rotates and slides a camera. Designed specifically for small production crews and extreme portability, the system is compact and lightweight, sets up quickly and easily, and is extremely versatile. Compatible with most DSLR, mirrorless, and cinema cameras weighing less than 11 pounds, Axis360 can move at a wide range of speeds, fluidly or incrementally, and the number of system combinations to suit specific shooting needs is virtually endless. Axis360 is controlled by the CineMoco motor controller, which is compatible with most video cameras and can synch moves and timelapse photos on most Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras with cables included with the system. Many other cameras support timelapse photography with built-in timers (intervalometers) and do not require a camera cable.”

Axis360-with-Rail-Low-Res-2

The Axis360 will sell in three kit configurations: Basic, Plus and Pro. The Basic Kit ($450) including the CineMoco controller, tripod, and ballhead. Tripods with ¼”-20 or 3/8”-16 attachments can also be used.

The Axis360 Plus ($550) includes the components of the Basic Kit plus a Tilt Kit for balanced, motorized tilting moves. The Axis360 Pro ($900) adds a slider rail for automated horizontal and vertical camera moves.

You can get more information about the Axis360 at its Kickstarter page. Also, check out the demo video below.

February 24th, 2014

Nikon Announces Details for New 16.2MP D4S Flagship Full-Frame Digital SLR

Nikon-D4s_58_1.4_front-1Nikon unveiled its new D4S flagship digital SLR tonight, which seems, on paper, to be a minor upgrade to the previous model. (PDN was pre-briefed on the Nikon D4S, under NDA, prior to tonight’s launch but we were not given any hands-on time with the camera.) Like the D4, which was introduced in 2012, the new D4S uses a 16.2-megapixel, FX-format (full-frame) sensor, which Nikon describes as “newly designed.”

The revamped imaging chip in the D4S has an expanded ISO range, going all the way up to ISO 409,600 (Hi-4), which should be able to let it capture visible subject matter in near total darkness for forensic photography and other scientific applications. That extremely high ISO range could also, potentially, have photojournalistic applications such as war photography when flash is not permitted or advisable.

The Nikon D4S also has a new EXPEED 4 image processing engine designed to cut down on image noise when shooting at high ISOs in low light, and for better HD video quality and improved overall performance speed. The Nikon D4S can shoot at 11 frames per second with full autofocus (AF) and auto exposure (AE). (The previous camera could shoot at 11fps but AF and AE were locked on the first frame.) Nikon says the D4S has an “overall 30% increase in processing power.”

The Nikon D4S first premiered, under glass, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, but details about the camera were not officially announced until tonight.

Read the rest of this story and see more photos of the new Nikon D4S here.