My 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide (web version) is Here!

2014-Holiday_Gadget_Gift_Guide

Last week I released my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide as an interactive EPUB and as promised I’m releasing the web version today!

That’s right it’s my guide to help you with you holiday shopping for the gadget lover (freak) on your list. The way this thing started was each year towards the holiday season all my friends started asking me and emailing about what my picks were in various categories and of course the answers were usually the same. So I decided to compile a list and just email it to the folks that asked.

Once again I’ve put together a Holiday Gadget Gift Guide to help you pick out gifts for the techies and gadget lovers on your gift list. I’ve chosen Amazon.com simply because they are the one online retailer with not only the largest presence, but also the one that carries 99% of the items I recommend. Another advantage is that I can continue to add things that come up all the way up to the final days of the holiday season. In previous years I would always find some cool gadgets after the static gift guide was published.

How did you pick the items that you recommend?

Simple! If it’s in my guide it’s because I either use it now, have used it in the past or one of my close friends or colleagues use it and I trust their opinion. Now in some cases there may be an item in the guide that is NEWER than the one I use and I had to list that one because my model is no longer available. Unless I’ve used it or know someone who has, it doesn’t get in PERIOD.

How does the gift guide work?

The guide is broken out by Category so that you can shop accordingly. This way you can pick your gift by the kind of person you’re shopping for. I know that sometimes you have to buy a gift based on a certain dollar amount or budget (like gifts for co-workers), so I’ve given you a couple of dollar amount categories too. Happy shopping and in case I don’t see you later, Happy Holidays to you and your family! You can go straight to my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide here.

 My Top 10 Picks for 2014

While the guide above has the vast majority of tech things that I like and would recommend, here are my Top 10 picks for 2014:

RAVPower Luster 6000 MAh External Smartphone/Tablet Backup Battery

RAVPowerLuster

Get it here for about $24.99

 

Westcott 42 Inch 6-In-1 Reflector Kit

westcott_6-in-1

Get it here for about $99.90

 

Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa for speedlights

rapid_octa

Get it here for about $159.90

Also check out the official “Terry White Travel Portrait Lighting Kit” here

 

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book (Box Set – All 5 Books)

ScottKelbyDigital PhotographyBook

Get it here for about $68.17

 

Netgear Trek 300N Travel Router

netgear_trek_n300

Get it here for about $42.80

 

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Graphics Tablet

wacom_intuos_pro

Get it here for about $309

 

Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

bose-soundlink3

Get it here for about $299

 

DJI Phantom Vision 2+

DJI-Phantom2

Get it here for about $1,159

 

iMac with Retina 5K Display

iMacRetina5K

Get it here for about $2,299 (on sale)

 

1 Year of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan Pre-Paid Card

CreativeCloudPhotographyPlan

Get it here for about $119.88

 

Also check out “The Only Black Friday App You Will Need

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How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Get Client Feedback on your Photos

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you how to use Lightroom Mobile to get client feedback on your photos. Find out which photos your clients like and perhaps want to purchase.

 Lightroom 5.7 and Adobe Camera RAW 8.7 Released Today!

I cover the new features of Lightroom 5.7 as they relate to Lightroom Mobile in the video above. However, there are some more things you should know:

Integrated a utility to import images from Apple Aperture and Apple iPhoto libraries into Lightroom:

  • Previously available as a separate and downloadable plug-in, this utility has now been integrated into Lightroom 5.7

New Camera Support in Lightroom 5.7

  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X
  • Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
  • Casio EX-100PRO
  • Fujifilm X30
  • Fujifilm X100T
  • Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver
  • Leaf Credo 50
  • Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)
  • Leica M-P
  • Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
  • Leica X (Typ 113)
  • Nikon D750
  • Olympus PEN E-PL7
  • Olympus STYLUS 1s
  • Panasonic DMC-CM1
  • Panasonic DMC-GM1S
  • Panasonic DMC-GM5
  • Panasonic DMC-LX
  • Pentax K-S1
  • Pentax QS-1
  • Samsung NX1
  • Sony ILCE-5100
  • Sony ILCE-QX1

Newly supported cameras for Tethered Capture in Lightroom 5.7

  • Nikon D4S
  • Nikon D810

New Lens Profile Support in Lightroom 5.7

Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Canon EF SIGMA 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM C014

Canon EF SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM S014

Canon EF Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8

Canon EF Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 ZE

Fujifilm X Fujifilm X100T

Fujifilm X HandeVision IBELUX 40mm F0.85

GoPro Hero

GoPro Hero4 Black Edition

GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition

Leica M Leica SUMMARIT-M 35 mm f/2.4 ASPH

Leica M Leica SUMMARIT-M 50 mm f/2.4

Leica M Leica SUMMARIT-M 75 mm f/2.4

Leica M Leica SUMMARIT-M 90 mm f/2.4

Leica M SLR Magic 50mm T0.95 Hyperprime Cine Lens

Leica M Voigtlander VM 12mm F5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar ASPH.

Leica M Voigtlander VM 15mm F4.5 Super Wide Heliar II ASPH.

Leica M Voigtlander VM 21mm F1.8 Ultron ASPH.

Leica M Voigtlander VM 21mm F4 Color Skopar

Leica M Voigtlander VM 25mm F4 Color Skopar

Leica M Voigtlander VM 28mm F2 Ultron

Leica M Voigtlander VM 35mm F1.2 Nokton II ASPH.

Leica M Voigtlander VM 35mm F1.4 Nokton Classic

Leica M Voigtlander VM 35mm F2.5 Color Skopar

Leica M Voigtlander VM 40mm F1.4 Nokton Classic

Leica M Voigtlander VM 50mm F1.1 Nokton

Leica M Voigtlander VM 50mm F1.5 Nokton

Leica M Voigtlander VM 75mm F1.8 Heliar

Leica S Leica SUMMICRON-S 100 mm f/2 ASPH.

Nikon F Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED

Nikon F Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f2.8E FL ED VR

Nikon F SIGMA 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM C014

Nikon F SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM S014

Nikon F Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8

Nikon F Voigtlander SL 40mm F2 Ultron ASPHERICAL

Nikon F Voigtlander SL 40mm F2 Ultron ASPHERICAL Close-up Lens

Nikon F Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 ZF.2

Pentax HD PENTAX-DA 645 28-45mm F4.5 ED AW SR

Pentax HD PENTAX-DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR

Pentax HD PENTAX-DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 Limited

Sigma SIGMA 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM C014

Sigma SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM S014

Sony Alpha SIGMA 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM C014

Sony Alpha SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM A013

Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM

Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-70mm F3.5-5.6

Sony Alpha Sony DT 55-200mm F4-5.6

Sony Alpha Sony 75-300mm F4.5-5.6

Sony Alpha Sony 300mm F2.8 G SSM

Sony Alpha Sony 500mm F4 G SSM

Sony E HandeVision IBELUX 40mm F0.85

Sony E SLR Magic 50mm F0.95 Hyperprime Lens

Sony E Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS

Sony E Sony FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS

Sony E Zeiss Loxia Biogon T* 2/35

Sony E Zeiss Loxia Planar T* 2/50

Bugs Corrected in Lightroom 5.7

  • The crop overlay displayed an intermediate step when progressing through images in the filmstrip with overlay displayed.
  • The lens profile for the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 would not auto-select when using Lens Profile Corrections.
  • ICC profiles resulted in incorrectly clipped shadows and blacks in Lightroom. Note that this is related to the issue identified here and only occurs on Mac OSX 10.9 and later
  • Fixed crash when rapidly adding corrections with the Spot Removal tool.
  • Fixed bug that prevented the Filter Brush cursor from displaying while changing brush size when the Graduated and Radial Filter overlay is turned off.
  • Improved quality of Camera Matching color profiles for the Nikon D810. Fixes visible banding issues with the Camera Standard, Camera Vivid, Camera Landscape, and Camera Monochrome profiles.
  • (http://feedback.photoshop.com/photoshop_family/topics/lightroom_5_icc_profiles_clipped_shadows_under_osx)
  • Context menu (right click on PC or control+click on Mac) was disabled for images contained in Lightroom mobile collections.
  • Fixed issue that prevented Lightroom 5 from reading Photoshop Elements 13 libraries.
  • Cover images set by Lightroom mobile were sometimes incorrectly reset by Lightroom desktop.
  • Sync with Lightroom mobile sometimes stalled when asset is added to same album on both LrM and LrD and later deleted
  • Resolved issue that caused Lightroom to crash when creating a Print and saving it to a mounted DVD directly inside Lightroom.
  • Publishing images to Behance using the Behance Publish Service has been restored.

Download Links

Lightroom 5.7:

Mac  |  Win

Adobe Camera RAW 8.7

ACR 8.7 now supports HiDPI displays on Windows. Please use the following steps to enabled HiDPI on Windows:

  • Go to Photoshop -> Preferences -> Experimental Features
  • Click on “Scaled UI 200% for high-density displays”

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed crash when rapidly adding corrections with the Spot Removal tool.
  • Fixed bug that prevented the Filter Brush cursor from displaying while changing brush size when the Graduated and Radial Filter overlay is turned off.
  • Improved quality of Camera Matching color profiles for the Nikon D810. Fixes visible banding issues with the Camera Standard, Camera Vivid, Camera Landscape, and Camera Monochrome profiles.

Please note – If you have trouble updating to the latest ACR update via the Creative Cloud application, please refer to this installation note.

DNG Converter 8.7

Mac   |   Win

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see.  My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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My 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide is Here and it’s an EPUB

 

2014HGGG-Mac-iPad-iPhone

Each year I put together my picks for the best Gadget Gifts to get that special someone on your Holiday Gift List. This year I decided to practice what I’ve been preaching and I’m releasing the guide as a cross platflorm interactive fixed layout EPUB 3.0 document as well as the web version. I built the the guide using Adobe InDesign CC. It’s interactive with videos, links and animation. The EPUB is a free download and while it’s focused on my top picks, you can access the full guide in the App as well (although it’s still being updated).

Yes, It’s Cross Platform!

The best part is that this year’s guide is completely cross platform and works on desktop/notebook computers as well as mobile devices. If you’re on a Mac, iPad or iPhone then you already have what you need to open it. The iBooks App that is native to Mac OS X and iOS works great with EPUB 3.0 documents. If you’re on Windows, Android or another platform you can download an EPUB 3.o reader here.

Download my 2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide Here:

epub_document

93.3MB (give it a minute)

I’ll be releasing the full version of my 2014 Guide on the web next week.



My New Favorite Travel WiFi Router

wpid14051-IMG_3946_sm.jpg

I’ve traveled religiously with an Apple AirPort Express Base Station for years. It’s portable, it’s fast, and pain free in terms of setup. It just works. However, there’s one thing that made me look for a new solution. More and more hotel rooms and locations that I’m in on the road are now WiFi Only, meaning that newer hotel rooms are no longer equipped with wired ethernet jacks. Even those rooms that do have the wired ethernet ports are often disconnected. Sure I could just connect my devices to the WiFi network offered but that offers a set of challenges that I was avoiding by bringing my own router in the 1st place. When you connect to the hotel WiFi (free or paid) chances are each device has to go through a sign-in, login, accept the terms process. Usually this login is only good on average for up to 24 hours before having to repeat the process for each device each day. On the other hand if I connect my own WiFi router (hotspot) then I use one device to sign on/login etc. and all the other devices on my network can surf freely without the need to have to sign on/login individually.

Why the AirPort Express is no longer the solution

The AirPort Express is great and even the newer form factor has grown on me, however the AirPort Express requires a wired connection to the internet in order to work. If I’m in a hotel with WiFi only the AirPort Express has to go back in my bag. Sure the AirPort Express can be used to extend an existing “AirPort network”, but I have yet to see a hotel equipped with AirPort Base Stations, let alone the access needed to make that kind of configuration work.

Netgear built the WiFi Travel Router I was looking for

The Netgear Trek  N300 does the one extra thing I need. It allows you to connect to an existing WiFi network and then share that connection via the WiFi network that it creates. Having my cake and eating it too. It can work in either a wired or wireless setup. If there is an Ethernet jack in the room then the Netgear Trek N300 can plug into it and route it just like the AirPort Express. However, if there is only a WiFi network you can have the Trek N300 join it and share it creating your own private password protected WiFi hotspot for the rest of your devices/guests.

How does it work?

As you might expect the setup requires a couple of extra steps when connecting it to an existing WiFi network. The first thing you’ll do is simply configure it with a web browser to set up the wireless network for your devices to connect to. Let’s say for example you want to create a network called “Get off my LAN”. Once you set that up with a password you’re all set to travel. Once you get to your hotel room or other public WiFi area, just power the Trek N300 up using the built-in foldout plug or plug in a standard micro USB cable (it comes with it) and power it via USB. This is a very nice touch because I don’t have to have an extra free wall outlet available. I can power it using my Anker 40w 5 port USB charger/power source.

netgear_wifi_page

Now simply connect to it from any of your devices. Bring up your web browser and enter the address of your Trek N300. Signin with your admin password and from there you will see a list of the visible WiFi networks to choose from. Choose the public network that you wish to connect to and you will likely be prompted by the public WiFi’s login page. Login as you normally would if you were connecting to this network directly, but you are actually connecting the Trek N300 to it. Once you’ve successfully logged in or paid your Netgear Trek N300 will be online and able to route that WiFi connection to your private WiFi network “Get off my LAN” for all your other devices/guests to connect to.

This Router/Range Extender works GREAT, especially after I upgraded it to the latest firmware. Unfortunately it won’t speed up a painfully slow hotel WiFi connection, but it will make it less painful for you to use by eliminating device limits and multiple device logins. Also it will give you one more layer of security because all of your devices will be behind the Netgear firewall and not visible to the public WiFi network.

The Bottom Line

netgear_trek_n300

The Netgear Trek N300 didn’t disappoint. I’m using it this week on the road as I write this post from my room at a Hampton Inn. There are no ethernet ports here in the rooms and without the Trek N300 I would have had to connect each device to the hotel public WiFi and sign in each device separately. You get an extra Ethernet port on it to connect wired devices too.

Also when you compare the price to the AirPort Express it’s a no brainer.

You can get the Netgear Trek N300 on sale here.

They also have an iOS App to manage it that you can download here for iPhone:

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Or here for iPad:

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How To Create a Slideshow in InDesign CC for your Interactive ePUB

ID-CC-totem

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV I’ll show you how to create a slideshow in Adobe InDesign CC for your interactive ePUB.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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Photographers: Don’t waste your money on a Mac Pro

macpro-imac2

Earlier this year in May I did a post called “Photographers: iMac or Mac Pro?”  It was a post that was meant to really ask the question that as a photographer would you benefit from the faster and more expensive Mac Pro over say a nicely equipped iMac (or in my case MacBook Pro)? There was only one problem with that post. I didn’t actually have an iMac to compare. I ran all my tests using my high-end Mid 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display. I noted that although my MacBook Pro fared quite well against the Mac Pro for common “photography workflow” tasks, that an iMac would probably do even better! Well now I have a NEW iMac Retina 5k Mac to test/review and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. I was a little blown away!

The same game rules apply!

If you don’t like Macs/Apple or don’t want a Mac for whatever your reasons are, you can pretty much stop here and find something else to do with your time. I find it entertaining when people feel compelled to tell you/me how much they don’t want the thing you’re reviewing or writing about because they use something else. This is not a Mac vs. _______ post. If you’re happy with a Windows PC or Linux PC, or anything else, I’m happy for you. If you can build your own PC cheaper, that’s awesome!

If you’re reading the rest of this post then I’ll assume that you’re a Mac user or thinking of becoming one.

The next thing I’d like to get out of the way is that if you’re looking for a Mac Pro review that tells you this new Mac Pro is better than the previous Mac Pro with all the benchmarks to back it up, then you’d probably be better served by other reviewers who have targeted the performance of the new model vs. the older model. I’m doing this review/comparison simply to answer the question, “as a photographer would I be better off spending my money on the NEW iMac Retina 5K Display or a Mac Pro?” If you’re a videographer and you’re a Mac user then you probably already have the new Mac Pro because you demanded the fastest Mac you could get to render your videos on a daily basis.

 

Updated: Introduction

When I saw the rumors that Apple was going to release a radically different design for the Mac Pro, to be quite honest I was only mildly interested. As I stated above, I realized with my last Mac Pro that I wasn’t really a Mac Pro customer. Sure I appreciate the faster performance, but I found myself only using my Mac Pro when I knew a process was going to take a long time to complete. Otherwise I was quite happy just using my MacBook Pro simply because I could use it in any room at any time. I could take it with me on the road. However, I said to myself perhaps if the performance (for what I do) is significantly better and the price point for an entry model was $2,500 or less, I’d consider getting one. Well we know the latter didn’t happen, so now it was time to test the performance. I got the opportunity to test a Mac Pro standard configuration in my studio for a few weeks. I loaded the latest version of my Adobe Creative Cloud applications on it as well as a few utilities that I use such as ScreenFlow. Next, I began running side-by-side tests of the things that I do daily that take more than a few seconds. My assumption was that the Mac Pro would certainly be at least twice as fast at everything I threw at it than my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display Mac. Actually I was wrong! Now fast forward to November and I have brand new iMac Retina 5k here to review and test. At the time I did the tests back in May, I really wasn’t expecting to run these tests again. Therefore I didn’t really hold on to the test files that I used. Luckily I was able to reassemble most of them with a couple minor exceptions that I will outline below:

MacPro-back

When will a Mac Pro significantly outperform any other Mac?

As I said above, I was wrong in my assumption that the Mac Pro would be at least twice as fast at everything. Actually it is faster at (almost) everything! Just not by a margin of two. On every test I threw at it the Mac Pro outperformed my now two-year-old MacBook Pro, but in some cases it was only slightly faster. With the new iMac Retina 5k there was even less of a difference. This is when I realized that in order to see significant speed improvements the software you’re testing not only needs to be optimized for the faster processors, but also it would need to take advantage of the multiple cores. Even then, the iMac and MacBook Pro are no slouch. They’ve got multiple cores too. Where I saw the biggest differences was in (no surprise) video rendering and processes that take longer than a minute or so anyway. At this point I now have a new iMac Retina 5K Display to compare as well. The differences in speed were less dramatic as I expected. However, even doing video tasks the iMac held its own and really started bringing into question “when would I ever want a Mac Pro?” When I ran the tests in May the Mac Pro was significantly faster at video tasks than my two year old MacBook Pro. However, I not only now have a new Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina that is faster than my old one, but I also have a base model iMac Retina 5k to compare too.

 

UPDATED TEST RESULTS

What I do as a photographer

As a photographer I spend most of my time in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CC. Photoshop CC definitely takes advantage of multiple cores and now has Open CL support. So filters will run faster on the new Mac Pro. All of these applications are 64bit native and that means that they’ll take advantage of additional RAM.

My first test was one of the things I do after every shoot. I convert my RAW files into .DNG (Digital Negative) format. This is one of the few times that I see a progress bar in Lightroom because it does take time to do it. I converted 435 16MP Nikon .NEF RAW files into DNG format.

First on the MacBook Pro it took 14 minutes 35 seconds

On the Mac Pro the same conversion took 12 minutes 12 seconds.

OK, ready for this? On the NEW iMac Retina 5K a 435 16MP conversion took 11 minutes 39 seconds. Huh! What? Wait a minute! It was actually slightly (less than a second) faster than the Mac Pro. This of course left me scratching my head, but I have a couple of caveats to bring up. First off this is 6 months later and we’re on a newer operating system, Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, which in theory could be faster than Mavericks. The only caveat as I mentioned in the introduction was that I didn’t have all the same exact files from the May test. Yes I converted 435 16.2 MP files from my Nikon D4, but they weren’t the same exact images. I can’t see where that would make too big of a difference though. They are from the same camera and a similar portrait shoot, just not the same exact images as before. We can argue this one more, but just for kicks I ran the same test on my NEW Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina with a Core i7 Haswell processor and SSD drive (the iMac has a Fusion drive) and it was even faster at 9 minutes 56 seconds. This we can probably say is faster on the MacBook Pro over the iMac because it’s a faster processor and faster drive, but it doesn’t really explain why it would be faster than the Mac Pro. Since they aren’t the same exact images, let’s move on to the other test where the files ARE THE SAME!

HDR Test

The next test was a simple HDR (High Dynamic Range) conversion in Photoshop CC using three RAW files. This is a two-part process. The first part is simply combining the three (or more) images together and aligning them. Then the second part of the process is applying whatever settings you want to control how your HDR looks.

The first part on the 2012 MacBook Pro took 12.70 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 9.10 seconds

The second part on the 2012 MacBook Pro took 13.00 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 11.13 seconds.

What about the iMac Retina 5K?

Since I had the exact same RAW files for this test I ran it on the iMac:

The first part on the iMac took 10.75 seconds and the second part took 10.75 seconds. This makes it only 1.5 seconds slower than the Mac Pro for this test.

londonpano

Pano Stitch

The next test was stitching a Panorama together using Photoshop CC and 10 RAW files

On the 2012 MacBook Pro this process took 1 minute 12 seconds

On the Mac Pro this process took 51 seconds.

On the iMac Retina 5K Display this process took 1 minute (9 seconds slower than the Mac Pro)

I could have gone on running other tests and other filters, but these are the things I do on a regular basis. If it was faster at something that I rarely do, then I really don’t care as much. As you can see from the results above, the Mac Pro wins on every test as you would expect it to, but the results (even if it was twice as fast in every case) may not justify the difference in cost. We’ll get to that at the end.

Next it was time to look at what I do as a Photographer when it comes to video

I use video in a couple of different ways. The first as a photographer is to tell my story. This means capturing video with my DLSR, GoPro, iPhone, etc. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC to assemble those videos and then output them to share (usually on YouTube). The next way that I use video and probably the way that I use video the most often is to record my Creative Cloud TV video podcasts. These screen recordings are done with ScreenFlow and since the editing I do is pretty simple I can edit these right in ScreenFlow. Of course I need to export those videos out and this can take a while depending on the length of the video. I had no doubts that this is where the Mac Pro would really shine. After all these are the kind of processor and resource intensive tasks that the Mac Pro was built for. I was not disappointed.

The first test I ran was an export of an hour-long edited video out of ScreenFlow.

On the MacBook Pro this export took 60 minutes

On the Mac Pro this export took 33 minutes.

On the iMac Retina 5K this export took 35 minutes.

It gets better in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Adobe Media Encoder CC. I needed to convert this video into a different format using the Adobe Media Encoder CC.

MBP-34

On the MacBook Pro this conversion/export took 34 minutes 36 seconds

MP-12

On the Mac Pro this conversion/export took only 12 minutes 36 seconds

MediaExport-1926

On the iMac Retina 5K this conversion/export took 19 minutes 26 seconds

 

What about that beautiful 5K Retina Display?

wpid14035-IMG_3926_sm.jpg

No photograph can do this display justice. You have to see it in person with your own eyes to appreciate it!

 

One the biggest reasons I would recommend an iMac over a Mac Pro to a photographer beside the money saved, is the fact that you’re getting a 27″ 5K Hi-DPI (Retina) display! Your images are going to look amazing on this display. I was blown away by the sharpness and the detail. Besides the obvious sharpness and detail, the other benefit is being able to work at high resolutions in programs like Photoshop. If you set the display resolution higher (I use SwitchResX for complete control of this) you can actually see more of your images as you work. No more having to zoom in to 100%. You can actually see them at 100% if you want. As it stands today, you won’t find a better display to see your images on. If you do, it will likely cost more!

iMac_Retina_5K_resolutions

 

The Bottom Line

I’m sure if we just ran processor and benchmark test that The NEW Mac Pro is the fastest Mac that Apple has ever created. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Do I run benchmark tests or do I use applications on a day to day basis that I’m waiting for tasks to complete?” For me the answer is no. Sure if I spent my days rendering video all day every day, I’d already have the Mac Pro. There would be no question. However, as a photographer I can’t justify the difference in price. Now that the iMac has a Retina 5k display it’s even a more compelling choice for photographers.

The Mac Pro model and configuration that I tested above is here. (Now keep in mind that if I was going to buy one I’d start with this configuration and I’d go with a bigger internal drive and more RAM)

Believe it or not the iMac Retina 5k that I tested was this base model. The results above were achieved with only 8GB of RAM and a 1TB Fusion Drive. If I were to buy an iMac I would get this model and I would buy this 32GB RAM upgrade and put it in myself. This configuration would give me a faster processor, an internal 512GB SSD, 32GB of RAM a 5k Retina Display, Keyboard and Mouse for less than the price of the Mac Pro that I tested.

My current MacBook Pro Retina 15″ is this configuration.

My thoughts on iMac vs. a MacBook Pro

Why an iMac? Although I don’t use one (I’ll have to send this one back if I don’t want to buy it), an iMac makes sense because you’re getting a fast Mac with a nice big 27″ 5k display all in one. You can’t really get a better display for this price and it includes a computer :-)

Wacom_cintiq-24hd

Why a MacBook Pro? For me the MacBook Pro makes the most sense because when I’m at my desk I have connected to a nice 24″ HD Wacom Cintiq display/tablet. When I get ready to go I disconnect it and go. I have a computer with a nice 15″ Retina display when I’m on the road. If I didn’t travel for a living then I would absolutely have an iMac. Since I travel a lot, a MacBook Pro makes more sense. With that said, if I had never used a Cintiq AND I had seen the iMac 5k with my work on it as I have with this test unit I would be hard pressed not to buy one and just use an Intuos Pro tablet instead.

If you want the fastest Mac and you don’t mind spending $3,000-$4,000 (or more) on it plus having to buy a display, keyboard and mouse, then definitely go with a Mac Pro. Almost everything you do will likely be faster than the Mac you’re currently using. At the end of the day I realize that computers have become “fast enough” and that I don’t spend a lot of time waiting these days. Even when a process such as a video render/export is going to take a few minutes I can toss it to the background and work on other things in the foreground. My last Mac Pro once configured set me back over $5,000 and while it was a beast, I found that I wasn’t really using it as much as I had hoped I would, so I sold it. The new Mac Pro is faster, but is it $4,000 + display, keyboard and mouse faster? For me it’s not. The NEW iMac Retina 5k and MacBook Pro Retina 15″ will definitely hold their own against a Mac Pro for the kinds of tasks that photographers do.





How To Create a Super Mega Custom Menu in Adobe Muse CC

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I get asked all the time, “how do I create a custom menu in Adobe Muse?” In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV,  I’ll show you how to create a Super Mega Custom Menu in Adobe Muse CC. The menu of all menus that you can do whatever you want in.

 

 

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See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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I’m Done with Network Solutions

webhosting

Usually when I write a post here it’s generally a positive review of a product or service. I figure most people would rather spend their time reading about products and services that they should buy instead of the countless ones that they should avoid. However, every now and then a product or service rubs me so hard the wrong way that I have to tell others about my experience (my old DirecTV post comes to mind). This time it’s with the web hosting company that I’ve used for over a decade. I’m done with Network Solutions. This actually isn’t something that is new. I’ve been slowly moving my websites and content away from them for a few years now. However, it was a month ago (October 1st 2014) that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before we talk about the latest incident (the one that sent me over the edge), let me give you some background on my years of service with them:

 

It started with My websites being hacked

I have about a half dozen websites including the one you’re viewing right now, all of which used to be hosted with Network Solutions. Some are WordPress blogs and the rest are standard HTML sites. In this day and age it’s pretty common to hear about websites getting hacked. The hacking of my websites with Network Solutions took place back in 2010. My sites were hacked with malware and other ads. Again, this isn’t something new and even back then it wasn’t unheard of. However, the problem back then was that Network Solutions couldn’t seem to close the breach fast enough. As soon as I would get everything cleaned up, the sites would be hacked again and again and again, even to the point that their execs were communicating with me and apologizing. I couldn’t take it anymore and moved my WordPress blogs away from them over to Godaddy (frying pan to the fire). However, since my other, less trafficked  websites weren’t getting hit I left them with Network Solutions along with my email. Eventually they closed their security breaches, but for me the damage and lack of faith was already done.

 

The Costs were Rising

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Note that they processed my “auto renew” on 9/25 for domains that didn’t expire until 11/24

I had one of their top hosting packages and several domains registered with them. Everything I had with them was on auto renewal. One day I noticed that my credit card was getting charged by Network Solutions and I was thinking in the back of my head that there wasn’t anything due right now. I logged in and noticed that they charged me to renew several domains (hundreds of dollars) that weren’t due to expire for months. This “cash flow” tactic punishes you for having auto renew turned on. If a domain registration doesn’t expire until 8/30 why are you charging me for it in June or July? Of course this prompted me to turn off auto renew!

 

My Hosting Package Expired  <- the beginning of the end

Last October I started getting notices that my hosting package renewal was due. So I went online to pay it. I used the PayPal option, paid the over $400 (yes I was overpaying for hosting) that was due and noticed that my account didn’t reflect the payment nor was the money taken out of my PayPal account. I waited a few minutes and no updates on either end, so I foolishly tried again. I got the exact same results. My account showed no payment and the money wasn’t taken out of my PayPal. Figuring that something was wrong I called Network Solutions and did the payment over the phone with a debit card. I went on with my day and you can probably guess what happened next….

Yep, the original two PayPal transactions went through and now I had paid Network Solutions over $1,200. Thinking that this would be no big deal, I called them to get the two accidental payments refunded. This is when I started to become unglued. I was told “we don’t give refunds.” What? Huh? Are you kidding me? I explained to the rep that this wasn’t something I bought and decided I didn’t like it, you were paid 3 times for a 1 year renewal. Can you not see this?

networksolutions-norefunds

After going round and round with them I was assured it would be credited only to receive an email later that day to tell me that “we don’t give refunds.” I called again and again and again. Finally I filed a dispute with PayPal and was eventually credited the over $800 back to my PayPal account. You would think it would have ended there, but oh no. Now Network Solutions was harassing me via email for, get this: not paying my bill! As far as their systems were concerned my payment had been “rejected” and I now owed them this money! This went on for months and they finally put a lock on my account (here it comes), that prevented me from (you’ll laugh) renewing my domains! Yep, they wouldn’t take any more of my money until I called to solve the issue with my account. When I called about this they informed me it was because a payment had been rejected. I explained to the rep on the phone the whole situation from last year and he eventually removed the lock.

 

I started moving my domains away from Network Solutions

Network Solutions charges more than any other provider I know for domain registrations. They charge $37.99. In 2014 that’s unheard of! The funny thing was that once I started the process of moving my 1st domain away from them I got this popup during the process:

NetSol-domainrenewal

So if I understand you correctly Network Solutions, as long as I’m on auto renew you’ll happily charge me $37.99/year. However, if I’m moving my domain away from you, you can all of a sudden renew it for only $10.00? Uhhh, NO! Sorry. I’m gone! Too late!

 

A Year Later My Hosting Package Expired <- the last straw!

After fighting the above for a year, it was time for my hosting package to be renewed again. However, I had no idea that it was due. Why? Every time I looked at my account it said that my hosting package was paid through 10/1/2015. Knowing that I would be GONE before then, I never worried about it. Around 10/3/2014 one of my users contacted me and said that they couldn’t get into their webmail. Not thinking anything could be wrong on my end, I submitted a trouble ticket through their website. 24 hours went by with no response to the trouble ticket and now more users complaining they couldn’t get in. I called support. I asked about my email accounts and they said “we don’t see any email boxes on your account.” Wait! What? Sure enough they had deleted my hosting package. No I don’t mean they turned it off. They deleted it! It was gone! My email boxes gone. My websites (the ones I had left with them) gone! Everything was gone! Their support people were scratching their heads. Apparently my hosting package did expire on 10/1/2014. I accept that. However, I got NO RENEWAL notices. No notice after the fact. No warning that if I don’t pay they would delete everything. Nothing! Nada! One day after it expired, they simply deleted all my content without warning or notice!

After being forced into buying one more year of their lowest package (I had to to get my content back), spending hours on the phone with support and several days later my email accounts and web folders were restored. As with any service I get that if you don’t pay you’ll be turned off. That wasn’t the problem here! I wasn’t given any notice that I owed anything. I wasn’t given any warning that my content was going to be deleted. They just deleted it!

 

Moved on to Bluehost.com

Once you lose my business it’s nearly impossible to get it back again. While Network Solutions was able to extort one more year of hosting out of me, I have vowed to never give them another dime. As of 11/1 I have moved the remaining email accounts and websites off of them over to my new hosting company, bluehost.com. Bluehost has been a dream to work with and to date no problems. They pride themselves on good service, affordable prices and US based 24/7 phone support. As each domain nears its expiration date I start the transfer process to bluehost.

I’m done with Network Solutions!

 


See 3 New Filters in Photoshop CC in this Design Tutorial

PS_CC_totem

 

In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you how to use the three NEW Filters in Photoshop CC 2014 in the October update. You’ll see the design process using the new Flame Filter, Tree Filter and Picture Frame Filter.

 

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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CVS vs. Walgreens – NFC and Apple Pay will Win!

apple-pay-boa

It seems like there are very few situations where “we can all just get along”. When Apple introduced Apple Pay and support for the over 220,000 merchants already taking NFC wireless payments at the register, I thought “sweet!” Everyone loves a faster checkout experience and having one that’s more secure and private can only be a good thing right? Although CVS was never listed as one of the vendors to support Apple Pay, there were people reporting that it was working at their local CVS stores. This is because CVS has/had NFC wireless payments already in place for Google Wallet and other forms of wireless payments. Soon after these reports started coming in, we started to see reports that CVS purposely disabled not only Apple Pay, but NFC payments period! Yes, even Google Wallet on Android, which was already working and in place before Apple Pay.

Why would CVS, Rite Aid and others purposely block Apple Pay and NFC payments?

wireless_NFC_pay_icon

Well the answer seems to be they are throwing their weight behind a different mobile payment system called CurrentC. CurrentC isn’t live yet and isn’t slated to go live until early 2015. Hmm, ok. So your new payment system isn’t ready yet, then why disable one that is ready and already working at your registers? The answer to that seems to be an “exclusive” deal with CurrentC that states in writing that these merchants aren’t allowed to accept payments from competing systems. Hmmm, ok. Then why shut if off now. My guess is that they wanted to cut off support for Apple Pay before users got used to using it at their stores. In other words if something never worked you’d be less likely to complain (too loudly) than if something worked for months and then stopped working. Again, this is my personal guess, but it makes sense. It could also just be a coincidence in timing, but it seems to convenient to be a timing thing. The only other question I would have is why would you sign a deal that blocked your customers from using other payment methods especially if you already had the necessary hardware in place? As usual, it’s always about money. In other words, if CurrentC offered a better deal with less fees then the merchants just did the math and went with the better deal. What about the customer you ask? Well that’s the point of this post. At the end of the day customers always decide with their wallet what will succeed and what won’t

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The NFC capable terminal at Whole Foods Market

 

Can’t we just use CurrentC AND Apple Pay/Google Wallet?

The first thing that a consumer might think is “why not use both?” There’s certainly nothing stopping you from using both Apple Pay/Google Wallet AND CurrentC. It’s not like your smartphone is only capable of one payment system. Since CurrentC will use a dedicated App for both iOS and Android it’s easy for consumers to use both. As a matter of fact more iPhone users will be able to use it than Apple Pay because it doesn’t require NFC hardware to be in your iPhone. However, everything I’ve read thus far promises that CurrentC will be a disaster for the consumer. Here’s why: first off it’s linked to your checking account, not your credit and debit cards. This is probably why merchants are attracted to this payment system because it will reduce the credit card fees that they pay. This probably isn’t the end of the world for many at places like RiteAid and CVS, but BestBuy is on the list to get this too and I don’t know of too many people that buy big ticket items using the money in their checking accounts. People typically pay for these items over time. Next, the signup requires not only your banking information, but also your Social Security Number and your Driver’s License Number. If that’s not enough to stop you in your tracks right there, it almost promises to be slower at checkout time due to the back and forth QR code scanning that not only you have to do, but the clerk has to do as well. The clerk rings up your purchase and you then scan the QR code that’s on the display with your phone using the CurrentC app. Nope you’re not done. You then show the clerk the QR code that the app produced on your phone so that he/she can scan it as well. What could go wrong?

The Bottom Line – I have a choice

walgreens-rewards-passbook

By the way CVS, see the nice location based Walgreens Rewards Card in Passbook? You’ve promising this feature for over a year. Just sayin’

 

The funny thing is that I actually preferred going to CVS simply because it was closer to where I lived than either Walgreens or RiteAid. Proximity to my home made CVS my default choice. Now that’s no longer the case. Where I live now, the nearest CVS is directly across the street from a Walgreens. When I pull up to the intersection I can make a left and go into the Walgreens parking lot or make a right and go into the CVS parking lot. Since Walgreens makes it easier, faster and more secure to do my checkout in their stores with Apple Pay, it looks like I’ll be buying more from Walgreens from here on out. This is what I mean by “customers decide what succeeds and what doesn’t with their wallets.” I very rarely try to predict the future, but when it comes to CVS vs Walgreens (CurrentC vs ApplePay/Google Wallet)? Walgreens just gained at least one new customer. CurrentC is a non-starter for me. Making it harder to take your customer’s money usually doesn’t workout to well for the merchant. Lastly this just in… “In 72 hours, Apple Pay is already the wireless payment leader in the US

See the Apple Pay Process in action at Walgreens





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