The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens is AWESOME!

I got a chance to work with the (fairly) NEW Nikon Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens over the past couple of weeks and it’s just freakin’ AWESOME! Couple it with a Nikon D700 (or other Full-Frame body) and it’s even better. This is not my first wide angle lens. I also own a Sigma 10-20mm. However, I was never really thrilled with it due to the distortion I was getting on the lower right corner. Sure it was an easy fix in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, but it was something I had to fix every time I used it.

This Nikkor lens takes things up to a whole new level. It’s fast and the focus is spot on. There’s not much more I can say about it. It’s bigger and heavier than my previous lens, but it’s also much better quality! You just can’t go wrong with good glass.

 

Here are a couple of shots taken with my Nikon D700 and the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

Adobe’s World Headquarters in San Jose – Nikon D700, ISO 200, 20mm f/2.8 1/400 sec

 

On the way up to the main lobby – Nikon D700, ISO 200, 14mm f/2.8 1/30 sec

Also for my Nikon fans that have been waiting for me to do more testing with the D700 (after my initial impressions) here’s a low light test.

A training class – D700, ISO 3200, 18mm f/8.0 1/8 sec

I’m very pleased with the performance thus far. The real test will be a friends wedding that I’m shooting in September.

 

The Nikon Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens goes for $1,549.95 at B&H Photo.

 

Special Thanks to Rick Miller for his help with the above lobby shot!


A Weekend With Mary DuPrie

Carly shot with the Nikon D700 and Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens

 

As many of you know, besides gadgets I have a passion for digital photography. I’m always learning something new. This past weekend I spent two full days with well known photographer Mary DuPrie. Mary is the master when it comes to directing and posing models and she’s also great when it comes to lighting, photo retouching and photography in general.

 

About the workshop

Mary offers these workshops quarterly and they are limited to FOUR photographers. That’s right, ONLY FOUR. Talking about personalized attention. As a matter of fact she is so adamant about this rule and class size that we missed her last regularly scheduled one because it was already full. Luckily she was able to accommodate not only myself, but my buddy Scott Kelby who flew up for the weekend to attend with me. Mary spent most of the first day giving us lessons on how to direct and work with inexperienced models. We even had a volunteer. David Teng brought his girlfriend Genevieve (‘Gen’) along and she graciously allowed Mary to show her how to model. Gen was perfect because not only had she not modeled before, but she really doesn’t like having her picture taken at all. So we got to see first hand how to work with someone from scratch. I didn’t bring my laptop the first day, so I really got a chance to give my iPhone’s Notes app a workout. I picked up a ton of tips on the first day that I will definitely be using from here on out.

After we saw how Mary works with models, we got a chance to see how she does one of her favorite beauty light setups. While I would love to go into great detail about this setup, it wouldn’t be fair to Mary as this is how she makes her living.

Mary DuPrie teaching us one of her beauty lighting setups which was used to capture the shot of Carly above

 

That aha moment

Any photographer that works in a studio often will tell you that it get’s kind of old shooting against a white background. I gotta admit that I was starting to cringe at the idea of doing more shoots in the studio. It’s summer and I want to get out more. However, I learned that you can do some amazing shoots INSIDE if you have the room and the right props. Mary is the queen of props. Here studio looks like a Pier 1 and Ikea store combined. You name it, she’s got it! She told us that we would be doing a “beach shoot” on the second day and I was like “yeah whatever, I’ve done swimwear shoots before.” I had no idea that she really intended to create a set from scratch that actually looked like a beach! It was truly amazing watching this thing come together. For a moment I felt like I was on a Hollywood set. This taught me that with a little imagination, you truly can create any kind of setting you want without having to always travel to a location. You also don’t have to spend a fortune on this stuff either. As Mary would say, “you’d be surprised by what people throw away these days” :) Another eye opener for me was how much and how well she uses her Westcott TD5 Spiderlites. I will definitely be using mine more after seeing how she uses them.

Tiffany Stone shot with the Nikon D700 and Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens

 

All-in-all it was two long days that were well spent and well worth my time and money. I got to hang with my buddy, meet some great photographers (Blake Discher and David Teng) and models (Tiffany Stone and Carly) and I got a chance to take my new Nikon D700 for spin. I also can’t leave out Tammy Pore, the makeup artist who did a fantastic job.

The workshop was also quite fun. By the second day we were probably doing more laughing than shooting at times, but that was so what I needed after a long work week. So, it was truly a great weekend. Now I realize that not everyone can get to one of Mary DuPrie’s workshops in person. No worries, she has three DVD’s available on her techniques. It was one of these DVDs that lead me to want to know more about how she does what she does. Also be sure to check out Scott Kelby’s write up on the workshop. He went into more detail and has some interesting perspectives on it too.

All of the shots above were processed through Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 and Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended.

As you can see David doesn’t like to have his picture taken either :) (just kidding David, but I couldn’t resist.)



Sony’s NEW Blu-ray Player BDP-S350

When I decided to get my first Blu-ray player, the decision seemed easy. It was either go with a Sony PlayStation 3 OR a Sony stand alone Blu-ray Player. Believe it or not, it was better to go with the PlayStation 3 (PS3) for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that the PS3 (although hard to find at first) was actually cheaper! The other reason to go with the PS3 was that it was more easily firmware upgradable right over the internet via it’s built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections. To this day, I don’t understand how you could get a full game console AND a Blu-ray player all in one that was cheaper than just a Blu-ray player by the same company. Who am I to argue? So I bought a PS3 last year and have been happy with it. Sony has upgraded it regularly and I’ve never had any playback issues with Blu-ray movie discs.

 

PS3 vs. the NEW BDP-S350

Recently I decided it was time to put a Blu-ray player in my bedroom. So it was time to revisit that idea of getting a PS3 vs. the NEW Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player. This new player has overcome all of the issues with the original BDP-S300. The BDP-S300 was notoriously SLOW at loading discs and even opening the drawer. It was also not easily upgradable and from what I understand it didn’t or couldn’t support the newer Blu-ray 1.1 profile, while the updates to the PS3 allowed support for 1.1. However, the game has changed now with the new BDP-S350. This new player is much much faster at loading discs and supports all the latest and greatest specs. It also has a built-in ethernet port for doing firmware upgrades (and will support BD-Live as well as Blu-ray 2.0). The price is also cheaper. This unit goes for about $399 on average. That’s the same price as a PS3. Now since it’s the same price, you could argue that the PS3 is still the better deal because you do get a game console too. However, there are some tradeoffs. The BDP-S350 is much smaller in size than a PS3. So if you’re tight on space or want to stack it, it would be the better way to go. Also if you don’t care about games at all then the PS3 wouldn’t be a good choice. The next and probably the biggest reason not to go with a PS3 if your primary need is to play movies is that you won’t have a standard DVD remote or the ability to use a universal remote without an additional purchase. The PS3 uses Bluetooth based controllers. So your standard infrared remotes won’t work with it. Sony makes a Bluetooth based DVD remote and I’ve used the Nyko remote to allow me to use my Harmony One, but that adds $$ to the cost of going with the PS3. There is nothing stopping you from using the game controllers to control your movies, but it’s just awkward and not intuitive. There is no play, pause or chapter advance buttons on the game controller. You’ll have to remember what the “X” button does vs. the “O” button, etc.

Seeing that I don’t play games often and have no desire to play video games in my bedroom, I went with the BDP-S350 and I’m quite happy with it. Set up was a piece of cake using an HDMI cable (not included) right to my HDTV. Speaking of cables, I still don’t understand why Sony would include a standard def Composite video cable with a Blu-ray player. To a consumer that doesn’t know any better, they would use this cable (since it’s in the box) and get a horrible playback experience. Why not include an HDMI cable instead? Or even NO Cable! At least then it would make the consumer get the proper cable and length for their needs. I was able to easily add it to my Harmony One universal remote setup There was a software update available the minute I plugged it in and it downloaded an installed it with no problems. As a matter of fact, I liked this new player so much and how it worked with my Harmony One remote that I bought a second one for my theater (which already has the PS3). Now the PS3 will be just for games and the BDP-350 will be for watching movies.

The BDP-S350 goes for $360.29 on Amazon. I still feel that Blu-ray will not really take off with the masses (especially in this economy) until players are well below the $199 mark. However, if you’ve been wanting one and your budget allows for it, this is the one to get.


Bose misses the mark when it comes to video

People either love or hate Bose

Let me start this by saying that I am a fan of Bose audio products. I currently have more of their gear than I care to admit. The New Bose Sounddock Portable ROCKS! However, when it comes to their home theater solutions, I’m starting to wonder "what were they thinking?" In my home theater I have a Bose Lifestyle 28 system. I bought it a few years ago off eBay. I got it new in the box for a fraction of the retail price. I’ve been happy with the performance and I’m thrilled by the compactness of the whole system and sound that it delivers. It was also extremely easy to setup and it’s very well integrated. This particular system included a DVD player built-in. Their higher end systems also include hard drives for music storage. Again, these were all welcomed features THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO!

Today, anyone looking to equip a home theater has one thing in mind and that’s HIGH DEF! Traditionally Bose home theater solutions have focused on DVD and Component connections. Now that the format war is over, everyone that is moving forward is looking at Blu-ray and HDMI. So the question becomes, why would you introduce a new system in 2008 that doesn’t have a Blu-ray player in it? That’s right! I received an email advertisement from Bose about their NEW "3-2-1 GSX Series III". This system (the higher end model) has a hard drive that can store up to 200 hours of music from your CDs. It has an HDMI out port (about time) and drum roll please…A DVD player that upconverts to 1080p!!!! Huh? Um, hello! Upconverter DVD players are so 2006! While you can argue that Blu-ray is still a pricey situation and most people are still on DVD, I would agree. However, most people aren’t looking to buy NEW systems that feature DVD upconverters. If you’re in the market for a NEW system, you’re in the market for HD. Bose has never been known for being "cheap!" This "new" system goes for $1,499 ($999 for the model without the hard drive). For that kind of coin you should expect to have the latest and greatest technologies. Obviously you could piece together a system that does include a Blu-ray player for less (and you probably should). Granted, it wouldn’t be as integrated in an all-in-one easy to configure solution. So is it worth a grand for this kind of convenience? Um, based on my experience with the previous model, I’m gonna have to go with NO. For less than a thousand dollars, you can do better and have a really good sounding system that DOES do both Blu-ray AND upconverted standard def DVDs.

It’s funny that they don’t even picture the one HDMI port that they do have (probably an older picture on their site).

 

Note to Bose

If you want to stay in the game, then you’re going to have to step up quickly and adopt the new standard. Yes, it’s Blu-ray and yes it’s from your competitor – Sony. Otherwise, stick to what you do best which is audio. Leave the video to the others that are doing it better. Also realize that having no HDMI "in" or Component in ports and only one optical audio in port is like having a analog TV with one channel. Even if I want to add my own Blu-ray player to this system, I wouldn’t be able to as you have no HD inputs at all. You are so missing the mark with this product it’s not even funny and this is coming from a fan. Imagine what the haters are saying?



iPhone 2.0.1 speeds up the iPhone

Apple released a bug fix update to the iPhone. iPhone 2.0.1 arrived today and is available for all iPhones. I was eager to install the update because I wanted to see if it resolved a few of the issues I was having. I’m happy to report that it did! One of the biggest issues I was having was sluggishness in the Contacts app. Granted I have over 1,000 contacts on my iPhone, but version 1.1.4 was much faster at handling them than 2.0 was. iPhone software 2.0.1 brings back the responsiveness that I was used to. I was also having an issue with a couple of websites that would crash Safari. Those sites are now working without issue.

So far, this update has been a great improvement from the original 2.0 update. I have not noticed any new features though.

Update

Not only did the 2.0.1 update speed things up, but my battery life has also improved quite a bit.


To Netshare or not?

Apparently Apple can’t decide whether or not they want to (or are allowed to) sell Nullriver Inc.’s very cool Netshare app for the iPhone. This app addresses the need to allow your laptop to surf the internet wirelessly via your iPhone’s 3G or EDGE data connection. In effect turning your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Something I wrote about as a cool idea back in April. Apple pulled this app from the App store with no explanation to the developer. Then it was posted again and I bought it. I experimented with it yesterday and while it wasn’t perfect, it did work.

This app was somewhat controversial as it appears to violate AT&T’s agreement (I’m not a lawyer, so don’t ask?). Something to the effect that you can’t use an iPhone tethered to your laptop in this manner. That in and of itself is odd seeing that AT&T does allow this with other phones they sell.

Today I decided to add some new pictures to my iPhone so I sycn’d it with iTunes. Then I noticed the display in iTunes saying “removing Netshare app”. For a moment I just thought that “maybe it was replacing it with a new version or update.” Nope, it’s gone! Now this is kinda scary on a “big brother” level. Apple seems to have built-in the ability to remove apps from your iPhone without your consent (maybe you actually give consent in the iTunes license agreement that you accept, but um I haven’t read that thing – have you?).

Of course I expect a full credit for the purchase price (plus tax). After all, I didn’t do anything wrong. I bought the app from the App store fair and square. I’ve already reported it via the “Report a Problem” link through the account area of iTunes. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Update – Email I received from the iTunes App Store:

Dear Terry,

I’m sorry to hear that the item you purchased did not download properly. Unfortunately, the availability of this item has changed since the time of your purchase, so I’m not able to help you download it.

Please accept my sincere apologies for any frustration this experience has caused you. I have reversed the charge for this purchase. You will see a credit of $10.59, which includes any estimated applicable taxes, in three to five business days. If you used store credit to make the purchase, the credit will appear in your iTunes Store account.

Sincerely,

Kate
iTunes Store Customer Support

Update #2

I’ve received a lot of comments from people that say, “well it’s still on my iPhone” and I say to you – GREAT! I’ve been thinking about the sequence of events and my guess is that I just suffered from bad timing. When I purchased the app directly on my iPhone last Saturday, it was obviously still on the App store. When I did my first sync after purchasing it (which was the next day on Sunday), my guess is that iTunes removed it because it was no longer on the App store and therefore figured it must have been a hack of some kind or other illegal app. Maybe that’s a feature built-in to iTunes to keep people from circumventing the App store and installing their own apps. In all the comments I’ve received, all of you say that it’s still on your computer in the Applications area of iTunes and that’s my point. It was either there because you bought the app using your computer OR it was put there because you sync’d your computer before it was removed from the App store. Again, I get it! You still have the app which is great. If I had sync’d my iPhone on Saturday, I’d probably still have it too. I have received my credit and all is good. If the app returns to the store, I’ll buy it again. In the meantime no worries.

Update #3

Check out this interesting find over at MacNN on how Apple may have built-in the ability to kill apps remotely. Again, I’m not suggesting that this was the case with me (more likely an issue of bad timing in my case), but curious nonetheless.


Blogging from the beach

I don’t really have anything to review today. I’m here in Myrtle Beach with family taking a little mini vacation. I just got a phone call and then I remembered the WordPress app on my iPhone and decided to give it a real world test right here and right now. Surprisingly the AT&T 3G coverage has been pretty good here. Here are a couple of shots. I’ll be back next week with some new reviews. Have a great rest of your weekend. ;)

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Why is there no "Nearest Apple Store" app?

It seems like it would be a no brainer for Apple to develop a free app for the iPhone/iPod touch that would direct you to the nearest Apple Retail Store based upon your current location. Since I travel for a living, it’s always nice to know where the nearest Apple store is, just in case I want to pop in and grab an accessory or peripheral or worse, get technical support on my MacBook Pro. Now that there are 3rd party apps for the iPhone and they can be "location aware", it seems like it would be a piece of cake for Apple to do this. Sure, it could be argued that you can kinda do this already with the Maps app, but it’s not always as accurate as a dedicated app would be. For example, I did a search for "Apple Store Charleston south carolina" and got everything but the one store that is there. So Apple, how about it?




Lightroom 2 Has Shipped!

I couldn’t be happier that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 has shipped! As many of you know Lightroom 2 has been in public beta since early Spring. This new version boast several features that make Lightroom (LR) much more approachable and powerful. When the beta first came out I did a video on the NEW features. There have been a few new features and refinements added since the public beta. I just created a NEW video showing how you can now do some basic portrait retouching right in LR with the New Adjustment Brush! This brush allows you to do localized corrections (corrections on specific areas of the photo utilizing automasking). It’s really amazing! The good folks over at NAPP have launched a Lightroom 2 Learning Center! Be sure to check it out. It’s free!

 

What’s cool?

LR 2.0 remains a completely non-destructive editing app. You can work with JPEG, RAW, TIFF and PSDs. Speaking of RAW, there is (unoffcial) support for the hot new Nikon D700 which just shipped! How’s that for timing?

New in Lightroom 2.0

Library Module


Streamlined Organization and Worfklow

Layout: The entire Library layout has been revisited to provide a more intuitive image organization experience.  The left hand panel of the Library has been streamlined to include only the most relevant image sources: the folders the images are physically stored in and collections of images that the photographer creates.  

Folders:  
Photographers working across multiple hard drives will find that the enhanced volume and folder layout will make it a much more intuitive experience to manage images on one or many hard drives.  The volume indicators clearly indicate the hard drive that you’re working with and provide the option to show the online/offline status, the amount of space available, the number of photos you’re working with and there’s an indicator light that migrates from green to red as your hard drive fills up. Now it’s visually much easier to move your images from hard drive to hard drive and understand where your images are stored when a external hard drive is no longer connected.

Collections:
The Collection panel has received significant attention with the addition of improved iconography and collection sets that allow photographers to create a hierarchy while maintaining collection-specific sort order. (Hierarchical collections have been removed in order to support the new organization model and will be migrated appropriately from 1.0 to 2.0 libraries)  There is also the ability to save output specific collections for Slideshow/Print/Web.  This can be accomplished by creating a new collection item while in the specific output module.  The subsequent icon in the collection panel will provide a quick reference and link to the images and output settings you created.  Collections still maintain their auto-save capabilities when it comes to on-the-fly output creations that don’t require a persistent entry in the Library.  

Smart Collections
are now available.  Specify the criteria for a smart collection and images will be automatically added to the collection if they meet the criteria. An expert user tip: Try alt/option clicking when adding a new search criterion.

 

Target Collection
functionality allows you to specify any Lightroom collection as the destination of the quick collection shortcut key, B.

Filter Bar:
 With the source location of the images clearly defined in the left hand panel, the top of the grid view provides a panel that will filter the content.  Use the ‘\’ key to hide or show the filter functionality and expand one section at a time to filter the content.  Each category below can be toggled on or off by clicking on the name and multiple filter categories can be shift-selected to provide additional control.
Text: Search across your images using text search field
Refine: Filter your grid view by flags, star ratings, color labels and the type of file, Master or Virtual Copy. This functionality was previously located only in the right hand side of the filmstrip.  It still remains in that location now labeled ‘Filter’ as a quick tool that can be used in any module.
Metadata: A wide range of metadata is now presented in easy to browse filter columns that can be added, removed and customized per your organization workflow.  Choose the field to filter on by clicking on the column header and select menu icon at the right side of each column to add or remove a column.   The column arrangement and selection can be stored as a preset that is defined in the upper right hand corner of the filter bar.  Note that the Date and Location fields contain the option to show hierarchical or flat representations of the data.  The Date field also includes the day of the week in addition to the numerical date.
 
The Keywording pane has a new Keyword Set called “Suggested Keywords.” Keywording is simplified through Lightroom’s ability to suggest keywords for the current image based on existing keywords applied to that image as well as keywords applied to images that are close neighbors in terms of capture time.  For example, if a number of images in a catalog contain the keywords dog and beach, an image assigned the keyword ‘beach’ will cause the suggested keyword panel to automatically update to show ‘dog’ as a suggested keyword. The Keywording panel also includes a dedicated keyword entry field below the larger box that displays all of the assigned keywords. The Keyword List provides a convenient filter to help find and manage your keywords. Checkboxes are available to quickly apply additional keywords to the selected images and arrows to the right of each keyword are a link to view all of the images tagged with that keyword.

Multiple Monitors:
Lightroom 2.0 beta offers a dual monitor solution that can adjust to fit your particular monitor set up.   The main Lightroom window that includes the Module picker can be positioned on either monitor and the following views can be provided on an additional monitor. To activate a multiple monitor environment, choose the monitor icon in the lower right hand side of Lightroom, just above the filmstrip.  If a second monitor is not attached, a second window will appear on a single display.

  • Grid: Place the grid on a secondary monitor for quick image selection while the develop module is displayed on the other monitor.  Or use the grid to reorder images while creating slideshow, print or web output.
  • Loupe:  Allows an image at a preferred zoom level display on an alternate monitor.  
    • In Normal mode, the image displayed on the alternate monitor is changed when the selection is changed in the primary Lightroom window.
    • Live mode is continually updated based on the image and area of an image the mouse is currently hovering or passing over.  Zooming to a 1:1 view allows for quick focus checking across a number of images displayed in a grid view on the primary monitor.
    • Locked mode fixes the image displayed on the alternate monitor until you wish to change the selection by selecting alt/option-Enter to make the current selection visible.
  • Compare: Offers the same powerful compare functionality previously in the Library but can now be used to compare images while selections are made in the grid view in the Library or while adjustments are made in the Develop module.
  • Survey:  View multiple images at once while organizing or adjusting in another display.


Photoshop Integration:  
Lightroom can now open images directly in Photoshop without writing out TIFF or PSD files first. The previous ‘write file to disk first’ behavior was inefficient and the new behavior enables a faster a more functional workflow that includes:

  • Open files in Photoshop as a Smart Object: Utilize the non-destructive smart object workflow by opening the image as a smart object directly into a Photoshop document.
  • Select multiple images to merge as a Panorama utilizing Photoshop CS3’s incredible new panorama functionality
  • Merge multiple exposures into a single Photoshop HDR image
  • Load multiple files or virtual copies into Photoshop as separate layers in a single document.
  • Important Note:  This integration is only available with Photoshop CS3 (10.0.1)


Export Functionality:
Managing and organizing exported images is much easier now with the following capabilities:

  • Export files automatically to the same folder as the original or a subfolder of the original
  • Add the exported images to the Lightroom catalog with the option of stacking the export file with the original
  • Sharpen images on export for Print or Screen usage utilizing an adaptive algorithm that takes into account the intended use and resolution.
  • Send exported images directly to another third party application selected in the export dialog


More notes on Library functionality:

  • The 10k pixel limit has been lifted and now images with up to 65,000 pixels per side or 512MP total may be imported into Lightroom.  This is particularly useful when utilizing the new Photoshop integration for panorama creation.


Develop Module

Localized Correction: The develop module now provides the ability to correct specific areas of an image without affecting other areas.  A common example of this in traditional photography would be the dodge and burn experience in the darkroom.  Lightroom provides brushes that a photographer can ‘load’ with different types of corrective techniques that were previously only available globally including exposure, brightness, clarity and saturation.  Images can also be tinted locally using specific hue and saturation values that can provide an excellent way of counteracting mixed lighting environments.
The tools previously available in the toolbar have been relocated to the right hand panel just below the histogram. (Crop, Clone/Heal, Red Eye and the new local correction brush)  Selecting a tool from the panel will reveal the options for that tool.  Click on it again to hide those options and return to the standard develop panel.


Adjustment Brush
The controls available for the local correction brush are segmented into three basic areas: Mask, Effect and Brush.  A quick walkthrough of the correction technique is below:

  • On entering the local correction panel the brush will become active.  
  • The type of desired correction should be selected from the Effect section.  A photographer can paint in a positive brightness effect for the shadows and a negative exposure effect for a bright sky.
  • Combinations of effects can be selected and saved as presets by showing the effects sliders. (Horizontal toggle in the upper right area of the effect panel)
  • The brush size, feather and opacity can be set before applying the correction.  An Auto Mask option is available to help confine the brush strokes and subsequent mask within an area of similar color.  The airbrush option provides a diffused correction application relative to the standard painting mode.  
  • Once a brush stroke is applied, a circular point or pin will appear on the image where you first applied the brush stroke.  Additional brush strokes can be applied that will add to the current correction area. To refine the area hold down the Alt or Option key to begin erasing with the brush.
  • To adjust the amount applied to the entire area click down on the circular marker or pin and move the cursor to the left or the right to decrease or increase the amount setting.
  • To refine the correction settings, click on the pin and detailed adjustments are available in the right panel and will be applied to the selected pin.  
  • Create a new correction mask or brush stroke by selecting the New option.
  • The pins can be hidden or shown with the H shortcut key.
  • Use one of the tint presets provided to apply a color tint or use the Lightroom color selection dialog by double-clicking on the rectangle to the right of the presets.  Change a preset by selecting a color in the dialog then click-and-hold on the preset box to be populated by that selection.
  • There are two brush presets represented by A and B in the brush section.  After modification of the brush controls, a preset can be updated by clicking and holding on the specific preset letter to be associated with the settings.

Graduated Filter
Recreating the effect of a graduated neutral density filter, this tool goes even further allowing the ability to modify all of the effect parameters in a single graduated effect.  Select the effect and click and drag the gradient onto the image.  Rotate and adjust as necessary. You can also return to the specific effect settings and modify them after the filter is applied.
 

Shortcut Keys
Local Adjustment Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Toggle Adjustment Brush – K
  • Toggle Graduated Filter – M
  • Graduated Filter Scale from Center – Alt/Option + Drag
  • Hide/Show Pins – H
  • Always Show – Shift + Command/Control + H
  • Show Selected/Never Show – Shift + H
  • New Adjustment Pin – Enter/Return
  • Switch Brush – /
  • Increase Amount – Right Arrow
  • Decrease Amount – Left Arrow
  • Erase – Alt/Option
  • Increase Brush Size – ]
  • Decrease Brush Size – [
  •  Increase Feather – Shift ]
  • Decrease Feather – Shift [
  • Set Flow Amount – Number Keys
  • Auto-Mask – A
  • Show/Hide Mask Overlay – O
  • Cycle Mask Overlay Colors – Shift + O
  • Constrain brush stroke to straight line – Shift
  • Invert Gradient – ‘


Vignette
: The previous lens correction vignette effect was only applied to the entire image frame and as an artistic effect could be obscured after an image was cropped.  An additional framing vignette effect has been added that will apply a vignette to an image, respecting the cropped borders.
 
Basic Panel Keyboard Shortcuts:  Photographers who prefer to utilize their keyboards for basic image adjustments will find that the +/- keys are linked to the Exposure adjustment in the Develop module.  Adding the Shift key will boost the increment amount, the comma and period keys will cycle through the basic panel controls and the semi-colon will reset the control currently in focus.

Improved Auto Adjustment:  
The Auto adjustment has been modified in response to feedback that previous adjustments were too bright.
 
Improved profiles for Raw data:  An enhanced set of profiles has been released on Adobe Labs in order to provide an improved default rendering of raw data.  In addition to the improved Adobe default profile, there are additional profiles for each camera that emulate the results that would be obtained were those settings chosen in the camera manufacturers software or if the photographer chose to shoot JPEG.
 
Print Module
Picture Package: The print module now provides the ability to create multi i-page layouts for a single image arranged in multiple sizes. This allows photographers to quickly and easily print a package of images quickly and easily.  

  • Choose Picture Package from the Layout Engine in the top right corner of the print module and a blank page will be presented.
  • In the Cells panel click on one of the preset size to add an image cell to the page or use the drop down option to edit and create your own custom size.  Cells can be added to the page until the page is filled and a new page will be added to the layout automatically.  Up to six pages can be included in a layout.  
  • After all of the required cells have been added, choose Auto Layout to automatically create an efficient, easy to cut print layout or manually move the cells to your liking.
  • To move a cell, click on the image and move the cell to the desired location.  To delete an image cell, click on the image and choose delete.  A page can be deleted by mousing over the page and clicking on the ‘X’ in the red circle.
  • When an image aspect ration is much different than the cell aspect ratio, the image can be moved within the cell by holding the CMD/CTRL key down and clicking on the image and dragging it.

Print to JPEG:  Many photographers have asked for the ability to send their Lightroom print layouts directly to a lab that will print JPEG files.  Choose JPEG as the option in the Print Job dialog to specify your print output as a JPEG file for lab delivery. (Select a custom ICC profile for your lab in the color management area)
Print Sharpening:  Lightroom previously provided three levels of print sharpening.  Impressive new algorithms have been added to automatically determine the correct amount of print sharpening required based on the output media and resolution of the file.
 
Lightroom 2 SDK
The Lightroom SDK allows you to customize and extend certain Lightroom features by creating plug-ins. In the current release these features are extensible:
 
Export functionality: You can create an export plug-in, which customizes the behavior of Lightroom’s
Export dialog and export processing. You can add or remove items from the Export dialog, alter or augment the rendering process, and send images to locations other than files on the local computer.
 
Metadata: You can define customized public or private metadata fields for Lightroom. Public or
private metadata can be associated with individual photos.
 
Web engine functionality: You can create an HTML web-engine plug-in, which defines a new type of
HTML photo gallery. The engines you define appear in the Gallery panel at the upper right of the Web
module.
 
A Lightroom plug-in consists of Lua-language files (scripts) that define the plug-in functionality, and an information or manifest file that describes the contents of the plug-in. The information file must have a specific name, and be placed in a folder with the Lua source files and resource files; the folders may need to be in specific locations.
 
Lightroom 2 beta vs. Lightroom 2
Changes from LR2 beta to LR2 below:

  • Hierarchical Dates and locations in the Library Filter. (Including days of the week for the date)
  • The Volume Browser in the folder panel. (Volume name plus several ” The volume indicators clearly indicate the hard drive that you’re working with and provide the option to show the online/offline status, the amount of space available, the number of photos you’re working with and there’s an indicator light that migrates from green to red as your hard drive fills up.  Now it’s visually much easier to move your images from hard drive to hard drive and understand where your images are stored when a external hard drive is no longer connected.”)
  •  Improved iconography for folders, collections, collection sets and output collections
  • Dedicated keyword input field in the keywording pane. (Always awkward to enter keywords when there are already a number in the field already)
  • Ability to add or remove metadata filter columns
  • Improved Keyword List interface. (Including filter by keyword to manage and organize keywords)
  • Repositioned and refined dual monitor support location and experience. (Moved from right to left and the ultimate dual monitor experience is much more polished in terms of performance and stability
  • Ability to set target collection for quick collection shortcut(b). (Target any collection as the target when you hit the B key)
  • Lightroom Web, Metadata and Export SDK available on the Adobe Dev Center
  • Local control improvements
  • Complete list of local controls including, Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, Clarity and a color toning option available for the brush or gradient adjustment tool
  • Additional gradient adjustment tool
  • Improved auto-mask functionality
  • Improved brush performance
  • Additional post crop vignette options: roundness, feather
  • DNG Profiles Concept
  • DNG Profile Editor available on Labs
  • Profiles for our current raw support list available
  • Match camera JPEG looks in the Calibration tab by selection Camera Standard profile
  • Export to JPEG functionality in the Slideshow Module. (Intermediate format for additional authoring tools)
  • Enhanced output sharpening based on feedback
  • 64-bit memory handling improvements

 

A New Camera RAW for Photoshop CS3 and Elements 6

Camera Raw 4.5
Camera Raw has been updated to 4.5 at the same time to work with the new adjustments in Lightroom 2.  It will provide exactly the same rendering obtained in Lightroom 2.
CR/DNG Macintosh/Windows

 

Pricing

  • Price: Lightroom 2 is priced at $299 with a $99 upgrade for 1.x users.
  • 30 Day Trial Available
  • Cross-Platform Mac/Win



Nikon D700: Quick First Impressions

This is NOT a "review" of the Nikon D700. It only just arrived this morning (thanks to my buddy Gabriel at B&H Photo) and I haven’t really had any time today to take it through its paces. So this is more of just a first look and some random thoughts. I guess the best way for me to describe the D700 is it’s the camera you would get if the insanely popular Nikon D3 and the Nikon D300 had a baby. This Full-Frame sensor body fits nicely right in-between those two great cameras.

I really wasn’t in the market for a new camera. Seriously, I wasn’t! However, I always wanted to have 2 camera bodies for shoots where I’m constantly switching lenses. Although I’d love to have bragging rights on a D3, I just couldn’t justify the $5K price for my "hobby." At some point I was probably going to get a second D300 and then the D700 came along and I said, "SOLD!" It’s like having the best features of the D3 in a D300 body. It has the great low level noise (which I haven’t tested yet) and Full Frame sensor of the D3 with ISO up to 6400, yet it has the sensor dust shaker, built-in Flash (Commander) and relatively small size of the D300. It’s also $2K less than the D3. This is my first Full-Frame DSLR and I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve been investing in good glass lately, so this new body comes in just at the right time.

Nikon D700 RAW shooters will be happy with the soon to be released Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 upgrade :) (can’t say any more than that). So far I’ve tried it with my 18-200mm VR lens (DX cropped), and my Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 and my 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses and I’m very pleased! Most of the controls are the same as the D300. They made a couple of refinements to the things like the Compact Flash door. It just slides open without having to press a switch. Also the multi-selector wheel thingy has a better feel to it. I also noticed that the shutter has a more distinct (satisfying sound). Again, little things in the short few hours of initial play. It uses the same MB-D10 Battery Grip as the D300 and therefore will use the same L-Brackets (like my Kirk Photo one) for your tripod heads.

Nikon is definitely back in to the fight with a vengeance! More later, when I get a chance to do some real testing.

 




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