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I've been waiting for a professional zoom lens to complement the Olympus OM-D, and thanks to Panasonic's new 12-35mm f/2.8, I have one. At 2.9" long and less than 11 ounces in weight, this 14-element zoom allows me to tackle the most demanding of assignments. I share my initial impressions of the 12-35mm in the first segment of this week's show.

In the second story I share how AT&T kindly unlocked my iPhone 3GS so I could take it to Germany and use a local SIM card there. Will make life much easier on the road. And finally, I cover the iPad Smart Case. It protects the entire unit, not just the front. All of this and more in this week's podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Bokeh is the Sept. 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2012.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




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The Panasonic 12-35mm lens for micro four thirds cameras is the equivalent of a 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms for DSLRs (keeping in mind that you double the focal length listed on the lens in the M 4/3 system.) When mounted on a top-tier body, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, you have a professional caliber rig that is far more compact than its DSLR counterpart.

I've been testing the 12-35mm Panasonic in the studio and field with great success. Here are a few highlights.

Handling

The lens is 2.9" long (74mm) and weights 10.8 ounces (305 grams). Its non-rotating front element accepts 58mm threaded filters. Both the manual focus and zoom rings are well dampened and rotate smoothly.

One of the things I like about this lens is I can use manual focus easily. I programmed the Fn1 button on the OM-D to toggle back and forth between manual and autofocus. That way I can quickly switch between the two modes. Manual focusing with this lens is a pleasure, especially when mounted on the OM-D.

The zoom ring also rotates smoothly and stays put at the selected focal length. There isn't any creep, even when you angle the camera up or down.

The Power O.I.S. switch on the side of the lens activates the optical image stabilization system. When mounted on Olympus bodies (that have sensor based IS), the switch can be in the off position. On Panasonic bodies, turn it on. Having the switch makes this zoom compatible for any body you mount it on.

Magnum 650 AW Inside 12-35mm on OM-D: Good sharpness at f/3.5, 1/15th sec using natural light in the studio.

Autofocusing

I was curious about the autofocusing ability of a Panasonic lens on the Olympus body. But I guess this is one of the advantages of developing a "standard" that both companies follow closely. The 12-35mm zoom autofocuses quickly and quietly - as fast, or faster, as any of my DSLRs. The linear stepper motor provides top notch performance.

Ewelina Studio

Image Quality

Center sharpness is outstanding at all apertures, including f/2.8. Corner sharpness is also excellent, with only a bit of softness at the extreme corners when wide open. Color and contrast is beautiful. Fantastic images on the OM-D.

Bottom Line

The only drawback to the Panasonic 12-35mm lens is its $1,299 US price tag. But this is a professional lens that should yield outstanding performance for years to come. Canon just released an update to their 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom for $2,300, nearly twice the price of the Panasonic.


12-35mm on OM-D: In the studio with strobes I shot at f/5.6 at 1/125th for this high key fashion look.

For my photography, this lens makes it easier to bring the OM-D on any shoot, knowing that I have the glass to handle most any assignment. Highly recommended.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

You can save even more time in Aperture by apply basic image adjustments during the import process. This automation became particularly attractive in version 3.3 with the introduction of Auto Enhance, which never harms a photo, but does a great job of applying subtle adjustments to improve it.

Here's how to set up your import to apply Auto Enhance, or any other effect.

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First, make sure that "Effect Presets" is selected from the "Import Settings" popup menu in the Import dialog box. If there's a checkmark next to the name, it's selected and should appear on the right side of the interface.

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Next, go to the Effects Preset brick in the Import dialog box and choose Quick Fixes > Auto Enhance.

Now, when you import your images, Auto Enhance will be applied to each shot. You can fine tune the settings for your favorite shots in the Adjustments tab.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 16 & 17 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


For the July 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters tried to stay cool while capturing heat in their images. See for yourself in our gallery, Hot. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Gerry Legere. "Heat is important in the making of bread, so I thought I would try to show the bread and heating elements together, to convey the the cooking process," Gerry wrote. To see all of the other terrific shots from July, visit the Hot gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The September 2012 assignment is "Bokeh." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Sept. 30, 2012.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Sept 2012." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Good luck with your Sept. assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for July.


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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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Good news out of San Jose. PetaPixel published an article pointing to an Adobe statement on the Photoshop.com blog, that Adobe "will provide support for HiDPI displays in the coming months, including the Retina Display available on the new MacBook Pro." According to the post, the updates will be free.

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 users who have the new MacBook Pro Retina Display should see quite a positive difference once the updates are available.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Want a compact camera that you can take anywhere, even 40' underwater? I put the Olympus TG-1 iHSthrough a grueling test during an 8-day trip to Maui, and have published my findings on TechHive in the article titled, Field Test: Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS.

Black Rock, Maui Skin diving at Black Rock in Maui with the Olympus TG-1

I loved the image quality, built-in GPS, fast f/2.0 lens (at the wide end), 4X optical zoom, 12 MPs of resolution, fast handling, light weight, all weather construction, clean menus, and pretty LCD screen. I think the TG-1 is a good value at $369 USand will serve adventurers well for years.

On the downside, the TG-1 doesn't shoot RAW and the LCD is still hard to see in certain lighting conditions underwater (the latter may be just the way it is with any LCD camera).

Check out my full report of the TG-1 iHS on TechHive. This is a terrific camera.


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About the only way you can get a spare Olympus-branded battery for the OM-D E-M5 is to buy a second body. So those of us who need a second cell, or who like to shoot with the Power Grip that holds another battery, are forced to look elsewhere for the time being.

I've tried the Power Tech 2-Pack Battery And Charger Kitthat sells for $24.95.

The kit includes two BLN-1 batteries, a portable charger, and a handful of other goodies. The charger has swing-out electrical prongs so you don't need a separate power cable to plug it into the wall. It also comes with a two-prong European adapter, and a car outlet adapter.

The batteries seem to last about 2/3 as long as the OEM Olympus batteries. I put the Power Tech cell in the OM-D body, then use the original Olympus BLN-1 in the power grip. In the menu, I instruct the camera to use the Power Grip battery first. I do this because it's much easier to change batteries from the grip than having to remove the grip to get to the one in the camera body. Basically, the Power Tech unit become my backup battery if I drain the Olympus unit.

The catch to all of this is that you can only charge the Power Tech batteries in the supplied charger. They are not compatible with your OEM Olympus charger. The bad news is that the Nimble Photographer doesn't like carrying two battery chargers. The good news is that they don't take up much room, plus I can charge two batteries at once.

I don't consider this a long term solution. But for the moment, I'm happy to have 3 batteries for my OM-D, and with a cash outlay of only $25.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

Not all terrific cameras get the spotlight they deserve. The Pentax K-30 is a good example. It's the most affordable weather-sealed DSLR (body only at $846), captures Raw in the DNG format, includes sensor-based image stabilization so any lens you put on is stabilized, plus has a raft of cool features, including HDR and multiple exposure. I share my initial impressions as I prepare to write a formal review of this camera.

I then talk a bit about the recent rash of spam that has attacked our site. And I conclude with a brief wrap up of the Sonoma Coast Photography Workshop. Join me for this week's episode!

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (34 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Street Scene is the August 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 30, 2012.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




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Looking for Raw support for a new Sony DSC-RX100or Canon EOS Rebel T4idigital camera? Through Adobe Labs, Lightroom 4.2 Release Candidate (as well as ACR 7.2) is available with Raw support for the following models.

  • Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i
  • Canon EOS M
  • Fuji FinePix F800EXR
  • Leaf Credo 40
  • Leaf Credo 60
  • Nikon 1 J2
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ200
  • Panasonic DMC-G5
  • Panasonic DMC-LX7
  • Pentax K-30
  • Sony DSC-RX100

The Lightroom 4.2 release candidate is available as a free download for Lightroom 4 customers, and the Photoshop Camera Raw 7.2 release candidate is available for Photoshop CS6 customers. Both are available for Mac and Windows.

Apple also supports the Canon T4i with Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.14.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


One argument to shoot Raw+Jpeg for your landscape work is the built-in distortion correction feature that we're seeing on many current DSLRs. When turned on, the camera corrects for barrel or pincushion distortion. That's the good news. Unfortunately that doesn't work for Raw files, only your Jpegs.

Fort Ross Road Corrected Distortion correction turned on in a Pentax K-30 with 18-135mm zoom.

I was part of a group that visited Ft. Ross in N. California during the recent TDS Sonoma Coast Photography Workshop. I used the opportunity to field test the new Pentax K-30 with 18-135mm Lensfor landscape shooting. I turned on Distortion Correction and shot Raw+Jpeg so I could compare the results.

Fort Ross Road Not Corrected Raw image from a Pentax K-30 with 18-135mm zoom.

Indeed, with Distortion Correction turned on, the Jpegs showed a clean horizon line (top image). The Raw file displayed distortion (bottom image) that would need to be corrected in post production.

For online posting and quick turnaround jobs, you may want to shoot Raw+Jpeg in this situation, so you can post the corrected files right away. Later, for your printing and other more detailed work, clean up the Raw files for maximum quality and control.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.