My 2013 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

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It’s that time of year again and actually I’m behind on getting this year’s holiday gadget gift guide out. What started as a simple concept back in 2007 has really grown beyond the scope of what I intended. The idea back then was simple. Put together a list of gift suggestions for those looking to buy gifts for the gadget freaks on their lists. It was simple at first. I put together an Interactive PDF using Adobe InDesign complete with hyperlinks to the products in the guide. Then I wanted to put more products in and it became a lot of work to do it manually as a PDF. I turned to Amazon to put it out and that worked well. However, because it was so easy to add products it became a catalog instead of a simple gift guide. That brings us to this year. I want to get back to the original goal of a simple guide with my TOP PICKS for the gadget lovers and photographers on your list. This won’t be every single thing I recommend. It will be my top picks in a few categories to help you out.

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.

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 Gifts Under $25 category too. Happy shopping and in case I don’t see you later, Happy Holidays to you and your family

(note: the prices below are current as of the date of the post. Prices on Amazon and other sites fluctuate daily sometimes.)

 Gifts Under $25

 

Transcend 32GB SDHC Memory Card

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I standardized on Hoodman cards, which I will suggest further down the list, but if you’re looking for a low-cost stocking suffer then you’ll like these. I’ve never had a problem with my Transcend card.

You can get one here for $19.99

 

iStabilizer

iStabilizer

A quick camera mount for your smartphone that allows you to attach your smartphone to a tripod. Great for shooting videos or getting yourself into the picture.

You can get it here for $14.99

 

Monoprice 10′ Lightning Cable

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If you have any of Apple’s latest mobile devices then you probably don’t have enough Lightning cables. Apple’s cables are OK, but too short for my taste. Monoprice makes a certified 10′ cable that’s great to reach from the wall outlet to your chair, desk, bed, etc.

You can get it here for $15.44

 

Airframe Portable Car Mount Phone Holder

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This is the mount in my car and it’s also the mount in my suitcase for rental cars. Hands down the best smarphone mount I’ve ever used for holding my smartphone at a comfortable level without a permanent install or fuss.

You can get this vent mount here for $24.99

 

Wacom Bamboo Duo Stylus for Touch Screens

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This is one of my favorite styli for touch screens. Makes signing contracts and drawing on my iPad so much easier. It’s also a regular pen so you can carry one pen for both paper and touch screens.

You can get it here for $29.95 (yes that’s more than $25 but worth it!)

 

Gifts for the Photographer

 

B&H Gift Cards

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I haven’t met a photographer yet that has everything that he/she wants when it comes to gear. If you don’t know what they need/want then this will make it easy. Get them a B&H gift card and they can then get anything they want. They always make me smile!

Get them here.

 

Scott Kelby’s Lightroom 5 Book

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I’m a photography workflow fanatic and since I haven’t written a book about it yet, you can do the next best thing and that is give Scott Kelby’s Lightroom 5 book to the photographer on your list.

You can get it here for  $38.54

 

Hoodman Steel Memory Cards

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Like I said above, I’ve now standardized on Hoodman cards. They’re FAST, reliable and have a steel casing for durability.

You can get them here for $89.95

 

Eye-Fi Card

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Camera manufactures are finally starting to build WiFi options for their DSLRs. However, many of these are external options that are costly. If your camera uses SD cards, then the best option for wireless transfer to your computer, mobile device, or the cloud is the Eye-Fi Card.

You can get one here for $79.99

If you’re just wanting to transfer the images to a mobile device then you can go with the cheaper Mobi cards here for $66.99

 

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium

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If I’m retouching a photo in Photoshop or drawing something, I’m doing it with a Wacom Tablet. I use the Wacom Cintiq 24 HD in studio, but when I’m on the road I’m using the Wacom Intuos Pro Small. A happy medium is the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. The size is great and if I didn’t have a Cintiq, it would be the one I’d be using full-time. Yes Wacom does make less expensive tablets (the Bamboo line), but if there’s a creative or photographer on your list, get them this one and they’ll not outgrow it.

You can get it here for $334.95

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How To Get Started With Adobe Photoshop CC – 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How To Do

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One of my most popular videos right now (it’s getting the most views daily) is my How To Get Started with Adobe Photoshop CS6 video. I figured it was time to make the Photoshop CC version and here it is. In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV I’ll show you how to get started using Photoshop CC. This is for beginners, first time Photoshop users, and folks who are self-taught and may be missing things. We’ll cover the 10 things beginners ask about the most.

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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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air Review

logitech_ultrathin_ipad_air

Hands down the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover has been my choice for iPad keyboards. I had one on my 3rd generation iPad and even one on my iPad mini. When the iPad Air came out I decided it was time to upgrade and of course replace the iPad 3rd generation. The one piece I had already begun to miss was my keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad’s onscreen keyboard is fine for typing quick, short things. However, I often use my iPad during travel and in flight instead of my MacBook Pro. This usually means I’m responding to email and writing. For these longer sessions, I’m spoiled by a physical keyboard. Logitech wasted no time in getting out the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air. Just like the previous models it connects wirelessly via bluetooth, but it’s also a smart cover that magnetically attaches to the iPad itself. Once you disconnect the iPad from the keyboard you can stand the iPad Air up in the keyboard in either horizontal or vertical orientation.

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Logitech made some refinements from the original model that I had. The first one is that they got rid of the shinny plastic on top. It now has a more matte feel/look to it that will definitely not be as much of a fingerprint magnet. On the bottom they’ve attached very small rubber feet that should help prevent the back from getting scratched up so easily. Unfortunately the cover isn’t any thinner. This means that it will add some thickness to your nice thin iPad Air. It pretty much doubles the thickness when attached and closed.

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Overall I’m quite happy with this new version and glad to have a physical keyboard again. I did read some of the other reviews out there that complained about things like the magnet not being strong enough and I’ve no issues so far. As a matter of fact the magnet seems stronger than the previous model I had. My 3rd generation iPad would easily slide apart from the keyboard in my bag, but this one seems to stay in place. The battery life of the keyboard is insane. You can easily go weeks if not months between charges. It’s the best keyboard for iPad period.

You can get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in Black/White for iPad Air Here.

You can get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in Black/White for iPad 2, 3 and 4 Here.

You can get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in Black/White for iPad mini Here.


Photoshop For Photographers Deal OPEN TO EVERYONE #blackfriday

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As you may know Adobe announced a deal for photographers to get Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, 20GB of cloud storage and a Behance Prosite (professional customizable online portfolio – see mine here) for $9.99/month. However, with that deal you had to be a previous owner of Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS6. Unfortunately this excluded Education, Elements owners and Suite customers. If you wanted this deal, but didn’t meet the qualifications, you’re now in luck! That’s right from NOW through (UPDATE)  12/2/2013 12/31/2013 you will be able to sign up for the Photoshop For Photographers Deal no matter if you’ve ever owned Photoshop or not! This is your chance to get in on the best deal for Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 as the price of $9.99/month is the price! It’s not an introductory price that goes up in a year, it’s the price.

See the details here.

Got questions? Check out the FAQ here.




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Charge 4 Mobile Devices At Once!

 

bolse

I travel with an iPhone, and iPad, a Jambox, a Nike FuelBand, etc. All of these devices charge via USB and all of course came with their own chargers. Rather than bring all those separate chargers with me I tend to look for multiple port USB charges that I can plug into one AC outlet and charge at least two devices. I was looking for one that could charge four devices including the iPad/tablets that need more power. I found one!

The Bolse 4 Port Premium High Output Wall Travel Charger has 4 Amps /20 Watts of output. That’s good enough to charge 4 devices at the same time including a tablet. I bought a couple of these and so far so good. As we speak it’s charging my iPad Air, iPod touch, external battery, and Jawbone headset. My only problem with it is the ultra bright blue LED status light. It’s blinding at night in a hotel room. Nothing a piece of gaffers tape or a Light Dim won’t cure, but I would love it if manufacturers either used lower power LEDs or allowed you to turn them off. Otherwise, this charger rocks and lets me easily charge 4 mobile devices at once!

You can order one here in white or black.


What’s New in the Adobe Muse CC November 2013 Update?

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you the 5 major new features of this latest November 2013 update to Adobe Muse CC. Photographers will LOVE the last feature I show! See how this visual web design tool has just gotten a lot better.

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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FAA Finally Relaxes Rules on Using Small Electronics During Taxi/Takeoff/Landing

compliments of istockphoto.com

compliments of istockphoto.com

If you’re a frequent flyer like I am then you know the drill when it comes to your mobile devices. Usually in the US you could use them while at the gate with the plane door open. However, once that door closes it was time to “power off and stow all electronic devices with an on/off switch.” Use of such devices during flight could interfere with the plane’s navigation system. Quite frankly I never bought this. The reason I never really believed that this was a real issue is because if there was some real way for this to happen believe me portable electronic devices would be banned from planes! If 4 oz of tooth paste constitutes a potential threat and is siezed by TSA,then what chance do you think your iPad would have? Also there was never any real policing of this. Sure the flight attendants would do their best to visually look for gadgets, but I’ve accidentally left things on in my bag in the overhead bin. Well it looks like we can finally stop second guessing this weird rule as the FAA has now started allowing some airlines (i’m sure more will follow) to allow use of these devices pretty much during the whole flight. They still want you to have the device in airplane mode, but now it’s no longer required that you shut if off and put it away.

Currently Delta, United, American Airlines, US Airways and Jet Blue have been cleared to allow the use of personal (small) electronics during take off and landing. Even the Delta flight attendants on my last flight were so used to telling everyone to turn things off they had to catch themselves a few times.

Air travel is definitely not “fun”. It’s actually a pain in the ass at times. However, as a frequent flyer the little liberties (like TSA Pre-Check) we’re starting to get back are helping make air travel suck less. Now can we get the seats redesigned on these planes?


Do something nice today for the veteran in your life

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Chances are if you know a veteran personally, he or she has made tremendous sacrifices for his or her country and family. Why not do something special for that person today to let them know that you appreciate them and all that they did for their country and loved ones.

Happy Veterans Day!


Nikon Df – A mix of Old School and New School

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Nikon has announced the Nikon Df. Imagine a classic SLR camera but instead of it being filmed based, it’s all digital on the inside. This Full Frame (FX) DSLR definitely has a sexy look to it. It’s hard not to smile and have a nostalgic feeling when you look at it. On the inside it’s all digital.

16.2MP FX-Format Sensor and EXPEED 3 Image Processor
The 16.2 megapixel full-frame (FX) CMOS sensor and EXPEED 3 image processor work in tandem to produce overall high image quality with notable detail, dynamic range, color accuracy, and low-light sensitivity to a native ISO 12800, which is further expandable to ISO 204800. This still image-only camera is also well-suited to working with moving subject matter with a top 5.5 fps continuous shooting rate using either the viewfinder or when working in live view.
AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens
Included with the silver Df body is the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens; a fast normal-perspective lens that features a complementary design with enhanced knurling on the focusing ring to emphasize the manual shooting capabilities of the camera. When using autofocus, a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) is integrated into the lens to enable fast, precise focusing that is equally quiet and smooth. One aspherical element is also incorporated into the optical design to help minimize chromatic aberrations and maintain high image sharpness and clarity.
39-Point Multi-CAM 4800 AF Sensor
Benefitting the exceptional image quality is an apt AF system that employs 39 distinct AF points, including nine cross-type sensors, to quickly acquire focus in a range of lighting conditions, from -1 to +19 EV. An intelligent Scene Recognition System, typically reserved for exposure metering, benefits the focusing performance by analyzing and identifying subjects to suit panning and tracking-based shooting styles. Depending on the situation, 9, 21, or 39 point arrays can be selected from and seven centrally-located points are compatible with f/8 or faster lenses, extending the auto focusing abilities of the longest lenses used in conjunction with teleconverters. When using this phase-detection focusing method, selectable AF-area modes include: Single-point AF mode, Dynamic-area AF mode, 3D-tracking mode, and Auto-area AF mode.When working in live view, a contrast-based AF system is employed to acquire focus precisely and can function in continuous, full-time servo mode to better-suit working with moving subjects. Four distinct AF-area modes are available when using the contrast-detection focusing method: Face-priority AF, Wide-area AF, Normal-area AF, and Subject-tracking AF. Additionally, benefitting working with manual focus when in live view, the image can be magnified up to 19x for critical examination and easier focus confirmation.

Scene Recognition System
The intelligent Scene Recognition System with 3D Color Matrix Metering II utilizes a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor to evaluate and analyze all aspects within a scene, including brightness, contrast, subject distance, and the scene colors, to quickly determine an accurate exposure and white balance setting to best render the scene at hand. The information gathered is also checked against onboard reference images to ensure consistency from image to image in regard to exposure, white balance, i-TTL flash settings, and subject-tracking AF performance.
Other Camera Features
  • Picture Control modes can be directly accessed via a dedicated button and allow you to set predefined looks to imagery in-camera, and include Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Vivid, and user-customizable settings.
  • Active D-Lighting helps to preserve both highlight and shadow details when working in contrast-rich scenarios, such as backlit lighting. Utilizing the EXPEED 3′s processing power, a more controlled image will be produced with brightness values closer to how they are naturally seen. This mode is suitable for working with moving subjects.
  • Built-in HDR works to extend the tonal and exposure range of a single image by recording two separate exposures and blending them together in order to gain greater highlight and shadow details with an extended range of mid-tones. The smoothness of the edge where the two separate exposures meet can be adjusted for more apparent softness to benefit images with a greater range of encompassed exposure values. This mode is best suited for working with stationary subjects.
  • The accessory terminal supports the use of the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter to enable remote, instant transferring of photos to Android and iOS mobile devices for sharing online. The GP-1A GPS Unit is also supported, which automatically adds locational information to images’ metadata for geotagging applications.
  • Spot White Balance enables precise, selective control of the white balance setting by simply pointing and metering a pure white portion of the scene in order to set the proper color balance when working in live view.
  • One memory card slot is available and accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC type memory cards, including UHS-I SDHC and SDXC cards.
  • An in-camera virtual horizon can detect both rolling (horizontal inclination) and pitching (forward or rear inclination) directions and display an electronic level on the LCD when working in live view. The rolling direction of tilt can also be displayed within the viewfinder.
  • Supported languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

 

The Bottom Line

I guess the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this camera was “hey, Nikon just came out with a ‘designer’ DSLR”. It looks nice, the specs are decent, but it’s not on my wish list. It’s on my “would be nice to have” list. The price is probably the biggest stumbling block. It’s more than a D610 and less than a D4, however the specs don’t really make it worth the extra bucks for me and since I have both a D600 and D4, I don’t really have a need for one in the middle. Could I sell my D600 and Df? Sure. However, then I’d lose the ability to capture DSLR video, that’s kind of a deal breaker for me. If you’re strictly into still photography AND you’re looking for a cool looking full frame DSLR this is it. You can pre-order yours here.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. What do you think of this camera? Are you ordering one? Sound off in the comments below…


How To Edit Video in Photoshop CC

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV I show just how easy it is to edit video in Photoshop CC even if you’ve never edited video before. Adobe Premiere Pro CC is Adobe’s award-winning, industry standard video editor. However, there are many Photoshop users out there who aren’t professional video editors, but know how to use Photoshop. That’s why Photoshop has a very capable video editor built right in that takes advantage of all your Photoshop skills.

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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