DigitalPro Shooter Volume 4, Issue 7, March 3, 2006

PMA 2006:
Point & Shoot & Toss?

As always PMA 2006 was chock full of announcements this week. Some, like the Adobe re-announcement of LightRoom beta, are really old news in a new guise. We're devoting this issue to what we think are the interesting developments from PMA that are relevant to pros & other serious photographers like our readers.

We're also pleased to announce our southeast Asia Photo Safari to Thailand, Burma and Cambodia is ready for sign-ups. This is a trip we've wanted to share with people for years, and have finally established enough local contacts to make it a reality. We hope you can join us! Due to a medical cancellation, we also have an opening for each of our two July Grizzly Bear trips. And we have openings for both our May and November trips to Botswana--home to the world's best wildlife photography.

PMA 2006: Highlights & Lowlights

The most striking thing about PMA was what wasn't announced. Except for the update of the Canon 20D to the 30D (see below) there weren't any new D-SLRs from Nikon or Canon. Fortunately for newsmongers, plenty of other cameras and lenses were announced. In particular there were an onslaught of new point and shoots from Nikon, Canon and others. While our sub-title "point, shoot & toss" is facetious, point and shoots are becoming increasingly small, powerful and inexpensive. The rate of technical advance in that category continues to be stunning, and the need for compromise is almost gone as you can get what you want in the size you want for the budget you have. Of course they're still point and shoots and are not as fast or flexible as ZLRs or D-SLRs. For a nice roundup of the new ones announced and some good photos, see Digital Camera Review's PMA 2006 coverage (which includes the new models from Sony, Samsung, Casio and others in addition to the Nikon and Canon models).

In the meantime, the big D-SLR news was growing support for the multi-vendor 4/3 standard being promoted by Panasonic, Olympus, Leica and others. In particular Panasonic's new 7.5MP Lumix DMC-L1 was introduced along with a new 14-50mm lens from Leica which features optical image stabilization (better known as IS or VR to Canon and Nikon shooters). Unique to D-SLRs, the DMC-L1 offers a fulltime Live View, which allows the photographer to see the live sensor view in the rear LCD. Of course it is difficult to use proper hand-holding technique while looking at the rear LCD, but for many situations such as macro and studio shooting this will be incredibly valuable. Certainly the new 4/3 system is no immediate threat to the breadth of the Nikon or Canon systems, but for users who may only need one or two lenses or not need all the accessories Nikon or Canon offer, the 4/3 system will be an attractively priced alternative.

Will you consider a 4/3 System? What would it take to get you to buy one? Let us know your thoughts on the 4/3 system and how it might enter your future photography in our Photo Tools forum.

Africa, ASIA & Alaska Photo Safaris 2006/2007 Update:

Alaska Grizzly bear trips, July 2006:

Due to a medical cancellation, we have 1 (single or double) for Week 1 (July 10-17) , and we have 1 slot for Week 2 (July 16-23) sign up soon.

Africa: May and November 2006:

I'm leading two Digital Photo specialty trips to southern Africa in 2006, both focused on wildlife in May and November. Both will feature plenty of mammals & birds. We'll see Lions, Elephants, Giraffe, Leopards, Cheetah and quite a few varieties of Antelope along with several dozen other species of exotic animals. For more details and pricing, see: Images from the trip I lead this November are in DPS 4-01.

Thailand, Burma and Cambodia, January 2007:

W're excited to announce our January, 2007 safari to Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia. We'll spend some time in Bangkok, but most of the trip will be divided between the temple areas in Cambodia (especially the Angkor temple complex including Angkor Wat) and Burma (including historic Mandalay and the plain of temples at Bagan). Learn more.

On the software & accessory front there were some interesting updates:

Lexar announced software support for its Active Memory (AMS) technology, including Adobe, Pro Shooters' Digitalpro, Photo Mechanic and Corel, demoed at PMA. AMS allows photographers to "memorize" caption and setting information on a flash card which can be automatically used when the card is loaded on any computer with compatible software. Lexar also announced they are doubling the speed of their top-end 8GB cards to 90X. AMS will be particularly useful for organizations with multiple photographers. Each photographer can set the AMS information on their card. Then, no matter which camera they use, which editor uploads the full card, or which computer is used to upload the card, the image copyright, credit, and caption information will be set automatically. I'm looking forward to using it on our photo safaris where we often load multiple clients' images onto a shared computer for burning to DVD and creating a client slideshow.

ColorVision introduced Spyder2 PRO with AmbientLight technology. As a beta site we've been very impressed with the way Ambient PreciseLight allows us to use multiple displays for color critical editing. We'll be covering this breakthrough feature in more detail in an upcoming issue of DigitalPro Shooter newsletter and on the website. You can order Spyder2 PRO directly from our website at our special subscriber price.

Bibble Labs released B ibble 4.6 . Version 4.6 now includes Noise Ninja & Intel Mac support. Bibble 4.6 has also updated the venerable Bibble UI to make it more intuitive. It is a free update for licensed users. Bibble has also announced a cross-licensing agreement with Kodak giving Kodak access to Bibble's Raw technology and Bibble access to Kodak's ColorFlow technology.

Lightcrafts announced the immediate availability of LightZone 1.1 for Windows--the first of the modern non-destructive editors to be available for Windows. You can download a fully functional evaluation from their site.

HP is targeting theEpson 2400 with new Photosmart Pro B9180 13" x 19" desktop pigmented ink printer. Like Canon, it will feature a PS plug-in to "end-around" the typical print driver limitations.

Canon has entered the Pro Printer fray with a splash with its first two Pro Pixma models and the wide-format iPF5000 (17"-wide images with bundled 16-bit RIP functionality).

Nikon has announced the eagerly awaited overhaul of Capture, developed in conjunction with the newly renamed nik Software.Nikon Capture NX features new U Point for selective edits and improved batch processing. We expect that it will also have some great image enhancement features given nik's strong track record in that area. Nikon NX is expected to be available this Spring. Pricing has not been announced, but Mike Rubin of Nikon has said there will be upgrades for Capture 4 users and pricing will be competitive. Capture NX Announcement. Nikon also announced the 105mm AF-S VR f/2.8 Macro: World's first silent wave macro. Has VR too!

Canon's highlights were of course the Canon EOS 30D--Closer to a "20D Mark II", the 30D shares the sensor of the 20D but adds a larger rear LCD (Yeah!), bigger burst capability, longer shutter duty cycle and other enhancements (March, $1399est.). Canon EOS 30D Specs. But Canon also announced some cool new lenses, the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II EF-S lens (faster AF, updated design, March, $2100 estimated price) and the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 ISEF-S lens (designed for digital, many "L" features, May, $1149 estimated price)

Maxtor released a 1 Terabyte version of its OneTouch External Drive. Featuring 2 500GB drives it supports RAID0 or RAID1 and will sell for about $900 initially. It is faster than a Buffalo Terraserver (but slightly more expensive) and easier to use than purchasing your own RAID controller and drives, but it doesn't support the more flexible RAID5 alternative that both of those other drives offer. You can read the PC Magazine review for more details.

New on

We've innaugurated a New to Digital "Getting Started" secion on The section, which will feature articles and how-tos for those new to shooting pro caliber digital, kicks off with contrubuted articles on Raw images & Raw converters and one on Image Size and resizing contributed by outdoor photographer Dave Ryan. We've also republished Moose Peterson's exclusive introduction to White Balance and one on CCD Cleaning as well as our Image Cataloging & Management Primer. We'll continue to add articles to grow this section. Even if you're not new to digital it'll be a great place to send your friends when they ask you these questions we all hear over and over again. If you have ideas for articles or want to volunteer to contribute one please let us know in our Digital Cafe forum.


DigitalPro Tip of the Week

DigitalPro4 has been upgraded to take full advantage of Lexar's Active Memory technology. But this technology is so new and creative that we suspect there will be lots of uses for it that we haven't thought of yet. Please let us know how you think you could best use AMS and the type of support for it you'd like to see in your image management system in our DigitalPro Users forum. You can find out more about DigitalPro or download an evaluation version at Pro Shooters website.






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