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Compact Camera Sales Continue to Slip

Canon S100

You have to wonder how secure manufacturers feel right now as they release the barrage of new compact cameras in a declining market for them. In Canon's latest financial results, sluggish sales of compact cameras were a primary culprit for their annual shortfall.

This trend persists throughout the market affecting both hardware manufacturers and accessory companies. Unfortunately for everyone, it's a fairly long pipeline for hardware product releases. So those compacts you see announced today were conceived some time ago.

It will be interesting to see how the low end market shakes out in 2012. My feeling is that DSLR sales will remain strong, but mobile devices, such as the iPhone 4S, will continue to erode compact camera sales.


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I've had a chance to work with Lightroom 4 public beta and publish an article about it for Macworld Magazine. That release has led to speculation about an upcoming Aperture 4 update. While all of this was going on, Corel rolled out their non-destructive pro photo management app, AfterShot Pro. In this week's podcast, I start with a basic review of Lightroom 4 public beta, then discuss some of the features I'd like to see in Aperture 4. I wrap up with a few thoughts about AfterShot Pro. It's great to be back!

Listen to the Podcast

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You can also download the podcast here (37 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

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!™ Hi Definition Photography™ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

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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Olympus E-PM1 - Quality Nimbleosity

I keep waiting for the charm to wear off. But it hasn't. My favorite camera when heading out the door for a walk is the Olympus PEN E-PM1with the 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens.I barely feel it around my neck. It lies flat against my chest. And I get terrific looking RAW files that look great for printing and Web publishing.

Mural on Concrete Captured during a stroll by the shore with the PEN Mini and 17mm lens.

I often carry the 14-42mm zoom (that comes with the camera) in my pocket, just in case I need a bit more reach or width. But I enjoy shooting with a prime lens when possible. I feel so much, like, well... a photographer.

BTW: the entire Pattern & Texture set was shot with the PEN Mini.

More on the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1

DP Review Examines the Oly PEN Mini

Action Photography with the Olympus 45mm f-1.8 Lens

On the Road with the Olympus PEN Mini


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.


Focusing on Pattern and Texture

Creative exercise is much like physically working out: it makes you stronger. And one of my favorite creative activities is focusing on a compositional element over the course of a day. On a recent vacation to Monterey, CA, I decided to work on pattern and texture. (What a great place to do so!)

Two Boats


The original shot had more boats in the scene, but the pattern and textures weren't hanging together the way I wanted. When I cropped to just two boats, I thought the image became more powerful.


It's interesting when you begin to look for certain compositional elements. After a while, you'll see them everywhere. When I experience this, I begin to wonder if I should "creatively exercise" more. Should I shoot with a mission in mind instead of just letting the visual world come to me?

Umbrellas


Once again, cropping was used to isolate the pattern. There were a few distracting elements just outside this frame that I wanted to eliminate so I could focus the eye more precisely.


The thing about texture and pattern is that it is bountiful in both nature and the manmade world. In both cases, however, beware of distracting elements that disrupt the effect.

Two Pelicans Blue Sky


In this shot, I'm back to two main subjects with a soft textured background. Color helps carry the overall image.


The bottom line here is that by taking time to focus on an aspect of your photography, you can improve it overall. Pattern and texture is a great place to start.

You can see more images from this series in my Flickr set, Pattern & Texture.


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Testing the HP TopShot 3D Scanner

The HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 multifunctional printer produces fast B&W or color output (17 PPM black & 4 PPM color), is network enabled including AirPrint for iOS devices, and has a 3D scanner. Since its scanner is the most unique feature, I wanted to explore that function first.

hp_topshot_scan_screen_edit.jpg The bundled HP Scan software includes basic image adjustments so you can create a final product quickly.

The TopShot uses a raised arm with camera and LED lights to capture the image. You simply place an object on its white platform, raise the arm, and set up the job. You can scan directly from the TopShot's built-in LCD panel, but I preferred to use the bundled HP Scan software that provides more control over the process.

hp_scan_setup.jpg Set up is quick with HP Scan software.

Once you set up the job and make the initial scan, there are handy controls to straighten, crop, adjust tone and color, or even extract the background. You can then save the file to your computer.

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The idea is to enable individuals and small business types to quickly create photos of objects without having to use a camera, set up lighting, transfer the images, edit them, etc. This ability could be particularly handy in a steady volume business where quick turnaround is important.

The image quality is sharp with good color. But the lighting isn't "soft box" quality, nor would I expect it to be. You'll get a dark shadow outline, and with shiny surfaces, probably a hotspot or two.

The HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 sells for $399 US. For that investment, you get a fast laser printer, unique scanner, and plenty of wireless and online features. It won't replace the photography studio for product shots, but it certainly can save you time when turnaround is the top priority.


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There are plenty of refinements and new features in the public beta of Adobe Lightroom 4, but the two tools that caught my eye are the robust video handling capabilities and soft proofing. I cover both of these, and more, in my latest Macworld Magazine article, Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta shines with new video capabilities.

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The Lightroom 4 public beta can be downloaded from the Adobe Labs site. You don't need prior versions of the application to try the latest. Once the final release comes out, you either have to buy it, or take the beta off your hard drive.

Even if you aren't a Lightroom person, this release is notable for a couple reasons. First, you get to see and test the areas of image editing that Adobe thinks is important. Recognizing that their emphasis is on video, personal books, and printing and web output, helps us see overall trends in photography.

I also think that Aperture 4 is probably not far behind. The competition between Adobe and Apple is fierce in this area, and my guess is that we will hear something about a new version of Aperture before long.

In the meantime, there's much to enjoy with this Lightroom release. Check out my Macworld article for more information.


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Talking Deer

It was the craziest thing. I was out for a walk along the shore, and I saw these talking deer. But because of the sound of the pounding surf, I couldn't hear what they were saying.

(Don't worry: today is the last day of my vacation. I'm back to "real work" tomorrow...)

Really "Seeing" a Landscape

As you look at this picture, what to you see? Ocean, sky, rugged shoreline?

Monterey Landscape

Those were the elements that I noticed as I hiked by. But as you look closer, you might see that the beach is filled with dozens and dozens of Harbor Seals. Many hikers missed it on that day. Make sure that doesn't happen to you.

The Clever Joby Micro 800 GorillaPod

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This is ingenious. A compact, machined-metal, ball head, tripod that you can leave mounted on your camera, yet, it doesn't get in the way. That's the JOBY GorillaPod Micro 800that I've been testing. This particular size is great for Sony NEX, as well as Panasonic and Olympus micro four thirds, and other cameras that size. For the Olympus Mini and Panasonic GX 1, however, I would go a size down to the Micro 250.

When not in use, the metal legs fit beneath the camera. When you need to steady a shot, just spread them out and precisely position the camera using the "just the right amount of tension" ball head. After you get the photo, fold the legs together and be on your way.

The 800 runs around $24 and the 250 is about 12 bucks. Nimbleosity rating is 4.5 out of 5. Very cool!

iPad for Exercise Bike

When I travel, I'm impressed with the exercise bikes I see in modern hotel gyms. They have a complete multimedia setups that help pass the time while I'm peddling away. After I got an iPad 2 for a client assignment, I contemplated ways to put my original iPad to good use. Then the lightening bolt struck: upgrade my exercise bike.

Close Up of iPad on Bike

The iPad fits wonderfully on the handlebars. It's a great size for this use. But how to secure it? I used a modul R case with the optional hand strap. It protects the iPad and creates a snug fit.

Close Up of iPad Back

For the actual exercise, I use the CycleOps MAGNETO trainer with progressive resistance. It's easy to set up, and it provides a good workout with my street bike. (I bought mine a while back at REI. You can get good deals on older models.) During dreary winter months here in Northern CA, I set the bike up in the shooting room at the studio. If I have an assignment I need to work on, I can switch back to photography in just a few minutes.

Bike with CycleOps and iPad

Since I've added the iPad to this rig, I found that I'm riding longer, and loving it! I'm able to maintain my workout regiment regardless of the weather outside.


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