Let ScanCafe do your scanning for you!

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Believe it or not there was a time that I actually shot with, (gasp) film. Yes, I wasn’t always a digital photographer. Although I was an early adopter and saw the handwriting on the wall when I got my first Apple QuickTake Digital Camera, I did shoot with regular film cameras before then. I did NOT consider myself to be a photographer at that time. I was mostly doing family photos and photographing my travels. I had never used an SLR camera before and most of my equipment was of the point and shoot variety. No, I didn’t really get serious until digital came along. The picture above is from my trip to Egypt back in 1990. Is it a great shot? No not at all (as I cringe at the question), but it’s one of the few that I actually have of me from the trip. Therefore, it’s important to me.

With digital I have the vast majority of my catalog of images stored, well um, digitally. They exist on hard drives and backups of those hard drives. However, what about all those pictures I took before digital? Like many hobby photographers out there I have that "shoe box" of prints and negatives. Of course I also have those binders and binders of photo albums too. Most of this stuff is over 20 years old. There are a lot of good memories there too. 

 

It’s all starting to fade away

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Negatives, Prints and Slides WILL deteriorate over time. My collection is no different. So I figured it was time to start transferring these precious memories into the digital world. For negatives and prints that means scanning! I’ve owned more scanners through the years than I care to think about. I even owned a couple of dedicated slide and negative scanners too. The one thing I’ve learned is that I just don’t have the patience or the time for scanning! I bought a low budget Film Scanner a few years back with good intentions on scanning my negatives and slides. I figured I’d do a few at a time whenever I had time. I started out at a good pace and realized that the results just weren’t what I hoped and that it was a tedious, slow and painful process. In order to get the quality I was looking for, my negatives would need to be cleaned and then corrected after they were scanned. Sorry, but I just don’t have that kind of time or will. So I boxed up the scanner and sold it on eBay. Yes, I gave up! I didn’t think about this project again for several more years.

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iPhone App of the Week – Units

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One of the first things I went in search of when 3rd party apps made their way onto the iPhone was a good unit converter.  I found Units and haven’t looked back since. This app has evolved over time and the user interface continued to improve. 

 

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Units can convert

  • Area
  • Currency
  • Energy
  • Temperature
  • Time
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Speed
  • Pressure
  • Power
  • Volume
  • Data Storage
  • Fuel Consumption
  • Typography
  • Density
  • Astronomy
  • Torque
  • Luminance

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Get your message out for less than you think!

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One of the questions I get ask a lot has to do with my video podcasts. I have two popular shows. My Adobe Creative Suite Podcast has been ranked in the Top 10 Software How-To Podcasts on iTunes off and on now for the past 3 years. I’m approaching my 300th episode! Each month the show gets tens of thousands of downloads.  The show has received millions of downloads to date.

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I also launched another show at the beginning of the year for my Macintosh Users Group, MacGroup-Detroit called "MacGroup TV". While this show won’t get anywhere near as many downloads, because of it’s smaller targeted audience (our local group), the episodes average 60-90 minutes each! That’s a long time for a show. Each episode of this show can range anywhere from 700-900MB on average. So here comes the big question?

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Photoshop Educator?

 

If you’re a Photoshop Educator then you can register to download a FREE Instructor’s Kit. My buddy Scott Kelby has partnered up with Peachpit Press/New Riders and Pearson Education to release his Photoshop CS4 Book For Digital Photographers as not only a text book, but also additional instructors kit DVD with videos and additional files to show your class. There’s a PDF, test questions and photos to help you teach photoshop. The only catch is that you have to be an educator to get this free resource. So if you work as an educator you should head over and check it out. If you want to check out Scott’s original announcement including a short video explaining the program, go here.

My New Camera Travel Bag

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I have a wide assortment of computer bags, suitcases and camera bags. Different sizes and used for different needs depending on how much gear I want to carry and how long I’m going to be gone. However, I wasn’t really happy with my large camera bag only because it always seemed like I could never fit everything I wanted to carry. If I wanted to carry two camera bodies, then that would mean leaving a lens or speedlight behind. 

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No ExpressCard slot, no problem

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I must admit that I was a little taken back by Apple’s decision to eliminate the ExpressCard slot, in favor of an SD slot, from their New MacBook Pro 15" models. However, I can’t argue the reasoning. If most buyers aren’t using this slot then it probably does make since use the space for something more usable like an SD slot although personally I would have preferred a Compact Flash slot on the Pros and an SD slot on the regular MacBooks, but oh well. Then I got to thinking about the ExpressCard devices that I currently use and realized that I only have 3 of them. I have a Verizon V740 EVDO 3G Modem, a Synchrotech ExpressCard Compact Flash Reader and a Belkin Multi-Card Reader (reads SD, Memory Stick and a bunch of other formats). Although I don’t have any plans of getting a new MacBook Pro anytime soon, I like to be prepared by transitioning my peripherals to the new standards ahead of time so that when I do upgrade, it will be a lot less painful. Well the good news is that I can live without the Compact Flash reader because I already have a Firewire 800 Compact Flash Reader by Synchrotech that I use most of the time anyway. I could also live without the Multi-media Reader because the New MacBook Pros will have an SD slot built-in and I so rarely use the other formats supported by the reader that I could have a USB reader if need be. However, there is the issue with my Verizon ExpressCard Modem…

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Nikon GP-1 GPS for Geotagging – Review

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I finally got a chance to try out my new Nikon GP-1 GPS. You may remember that I got this GPS when I got my Nikon D5000 because my di-GPS Pro isn’t compatible with it. Nikon did a very smart thing by making their GPS compatible with both their higher end DSLRs like the D300, D700, D3 and D3X which all have a 10 pin Remote Terminal as well as their lower end cameras like the D5000 and D90. Both the D5000 and D90 have a special port for a GPS, but it’s not the 10 pin Remote Terminal port and that’s what makes my di-GPS Pro incompatible. The cable on the di-GPS pro is hard wired in and only works with DSLRs with the 10 pin Remote Terminal. The Nikon GP-1  comes with 2 different cables so that you can use it with either connection

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iPhone App of the Week – RunPee

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Sometimes I run across an app or someone shows me an app that like a train crash, I just can’t look away from. If someone would have said, "hey go download the RunPee" app!" I would have thought they were crazy or even a little sick. Well my friend Wanda sent me an email about this app and I had to go check it out because I trust her opinion. First off get your mind out of the gutter 🙂 It’s not that kind of app!

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Shouldn’t Hotel Wi-Fi Be Free By Now?

Every now and then I’m going to have a post that’s not about a product or service that I’m reviewing, but more of a rant. Today is the day for the one that’s been bugging me for a long time. As a frequent travel I stay in hotels on a regular basis.  Of course I travel with my laptop and access the internet while I’m in my room. I’ve found that internet charges range anywhere from FREE to $16.99/night (more overseas). I really got to thinking about this on my trip to Arizona a couple of months ago. While I was in Page Arizona I stayed at a Courtyard Marriott and the internet was FREE. Wi-Fi access throughout the building at no extra cost. As I was heading home I spent one night at a regular Marriott near the Phoenix Airport. Not only was there a charge for the internet, they even had tiered pricing for connecting at faster speeds. I thought, "wow they’ve even gone through extra trouble to be able to charge you more for a faster connection. Now while I wasn’t surprised by a charge for internet access, I was curious why Courtyard Marriott hotels can offer FREE internet access and charge less for their rooms than standard Marriott Hotels? The room rate for the Page Courtyard was $89/night (free Wi-Fi). The room rate for the airport Marriott was $120/night and the internet access for the basic speed for $9.95/night. I don’t even remember what the higher speed internet cost. As a Marriott Rewards Member I thought that this would have been a perfect way to "reward" me for my loyalty. Why not give the Marriott Rewards members free basic access and charge for the higher speeds?

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Alternative to Camera Control Pro 2 for Lightroom Tethering

 If you’re a Nikon shooter and you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom shooting tethered requires middleware. Shooting tethered gives you the ability to attach a (long) USB cable to your camera and then to your computer and with the proper settings have the shots import into Lightroom as you take them. This is especially useful in a studio situation for those times when you want to check the lighting and have a larger image on screen than the LCD on the back of your camera. However, Lightroom doesn’t currently have native support for shooting tethered. You must use a piece of software to bring the images into your computer and dump them into a folder. From there Lightroom can automatically import them. If you’re a Canon shooter the software you need comes with your DSLR. It’s called the Canon EOS Utility. However, if you’re a Nikon user, the only app (lowest cost one) that Nikon provides is called Camera Control Pro 2 (CCP2). CCP2 is a great app. It does a LOT of things. However, quite frankly it’s overkill for this simple task. It has more features than you’re likely to use if all you’re doing is shooting tethered into Lightroom. Sure more features are nice, but those features come at a steep price. CCP2 goes for $152.99. Considering that you can get Lightroom for only $260.99, CCP2 is more than half the price of Lightroom. Although I already own CCP2, I’ve been asked by many of the folks that I do Lightroom presentations for, "is there a cheaper alternative?"

 

How about FREE?

Free is usually good! There are a couple of FREE solutions for shooting tethered into Lightroom. I just did a studio shoot yesterday, and gave Sofortbild is a donationware app. So technically it’s not really FREE as you should donate to the author if you use the app. However, it is provided freely to download and use. 

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Sofortbild has all the features I need and it seems a little snappier too. The interface is clean and gives you quite a bit of useful information about your camera settings without getting in your way. You can also control the camera’s shutter release from the Sofortbild app if you wanted to use it as a remote control.

 

The Bottom Line

Like I said, Camera Control Pro 2 is a great app and I don’t have anything against it. It’s just overkill for what I need to do most of the time. You can download Sofortbild for the Mac here. If you’re looking for a Windows solution, check out TetherPro for $49.99. I haven’t used this app, but it does look like it has what you would want at a fraction of the cost of CCP2.

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