Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Radio Popper Updates Web Info...

The Radio Popper Website has been updated with more info on the new "Radio based E - TTL flash triggers" with expanded content including details of the three models currently in the works.

Check out the details about the Radio Popper Jr. :

From their site...

"We stripped the standard radio triggering feature off of our P1 model in an effort to further reduce size and cost - but we’re giving this feature back in the form of the RadioPopper Jr. The Jr. will be a standard no-frills studio strobe triggering device. It won’t sport the TTL or infrared bridging features offered by its older brothers, but it will fill the need in our industry for a simple device that plugs to the PC-synch plug on your camera and reliably triggers manual strobes.

And we’re going to offer it at a ridiculously low price.

Designed with the highest quality radio components, cutting no corners, real world range projected to 2000+ ft, legitimate FCC certified radio slaves, and we’re going to do our best to put them in your hands for $25 each. "


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canon 7D Confirmed By Elvis...In Beta Testing With Bigfoot!

You can trust Elvis!

The widespread rumors about a future release date for the not yet confirmed Canon Eos 7D are growing with every passing week. Spurred by falling prices and big manufacturer rebates available in the EU, the Canon faithful are holding their breath with giddy anticipation. Consumers in Europe were the first to receive price breaks on the 12.8 Megapixel Eos 5D in the form of cash rebates, with the option of having the cash direct deposited into their bank accounts or receiving a rebate check mailed after purchase. With Canon's first round of rebates cutting 200 Euros from the price of the 5D, the speculation that a new full frame DSLR was right around the corner has continued to grow. To add fuel to the fire, there are now some retailers in Germany that have knocked another 100 Euros off the rebate price. Yeee Haaaa!

Even with all the price breaks, rebates and incentives, there are no guarantees that Canon will release any new professional level DSLRs anytime before the second quarter of 2008. We can only hold our breath and wait, or go and buy a 5D while the gettins good!


From the "Digital Pro Talk Blog,"

Anonymous said...

David, it's well known that big foot was caught taking a picture of the Loch Ness monster with a 7D. This was verified by Elvis who is working at a lab in Atlantis.

1:09 PM, October 04, 2007

Thats all the confirmation I need!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Using Canon SpeedLite Transmitter ST- E2 As Focus Aid?

Just an idea...

Recently, Dr. Pimento did some pseudo scientific field testing with a Canon EOS 40D at his local pro camera shop. Straight out of the box, using several of his own professional Canon prime lenses and zooms, he took a series of ambient light, high ISO images to evaluate the 40D's focus accuracy and consistency under normal room lighting. His goal, to test for the dreaded front focus / back focus problems experienced by some of Canons other high end cameras. Using the unevenly stacked inventory boxes high on the shelf behind the counter, he focused and refocused on the same spot ( the large typeface on a Canon lens box ) making exposures after each new framing and refocus. Dr. Pimento was careful to use the singular focus spot in the viewfinder, zeroing in on the exact letter in the type face on the package front for each exposure.

Back at Dr. P's secret testing facility, the RAW images were processed and evaluated on his "state - of - the - art" imaging system, complete with Matrox video card and high resolution LCD monitor. His down and dirty in store focus experiment did not reveal the positive results he was hoping for, with frame after frame of inconsistently focused images, sometimes behind the subject, other times focused well in front.

Is it possible that Canon DSLR's just aren't capable of focusing on certain fonts? Or is it more likely that Canon autofucus ( purposely misspelled ) technology has an aversion to critical focus on cardboard boxes! Hmmmm..............?

That brings me to the title of this post....."Canon SpeedLite Transmitter ST-e2 As Focus Aid." I have heard rumors that these overpriced units for controlling multiple speedlite flashes are excellent for using strictly as a focus aid, emitting an LED beam at close proximity. Come to think of it, I have hardly ever taken an out of focus pic with a speedlite mounted on my Canon in a dimly lit room. At $209.95 before shipping at B&H Photo, they certainly aren't cheap, but coming back from an assignment with poorly focused images might cost you even more.

I might have to give one of these a try!


-Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

- Compatible with 420EX, 550EX, 580EX, or MR-14EX and MT-24EX Macro flashes

- AF-assist Beam: Compatible with EOS-3's 45-point Area AF and 28mm and longer lens focal lengths

- Power Source : 2CR5 lithium battery x 1, Battery Life: Approx. 1,500 transmissions (At room temperature and with a new set of batteries).

Price: $209.95 at B&H Photo

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Radio Popper Transmitters On Their Way...

More photo goodies!

If you've been looking for an alternative to the expensive Pocket Wizard radio flash triggers that currently rule the photo universe, you might just have a new 'expensive' option coming in the first weeks of January. Radio Poppers from Kevin King, Phoenix Arizona based wedding shooter, promises to be a revolutionary new transmitter / receiver flash trigger for working with E-TTL and Canon / Nikon cameras. His tiny Radio Popper receiver units promise more flexibility with shutter speed sync, increased transmitter working distance and flawless reliability in bright daylight. You can read more about his Radio Poppers on the STROBIST website, where you can follow links to an original article from September of this year.

There still seem to be a lot of skeptics and Pocket Wizard true-believers out there who want to cast doubt on his invention and scheduled January 2008 release date. You can check out the Radio Popper Website and decide for yourself.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Giving Microsoft's Sync Toy A Spin!

Here we go again...

Sync Toy: the smart way to copy files ?

From Microsoft's site...

'Sync Toy v1.4 is available as a free download on the Microsoft Download Center. The easy to use, customizable application helps you copy, move, rename, and delete files between folders and computers.'

Now that I have officially kicked Win Vista's butt and given myself over to the 'dark side', I figured I would go one step further and give the Sync Toy Utility a test drive. It appears to have quite a following on the Microsoft Pro Photo Website, with much praise from digital shooters as a simple and effective file copying / backup program. I plan to use the small file utility do a twice daily scheduled backup of my current image files from my 'DC' hard drive ( Main storage ) to an external mass storage device, possibly even a DROBO hot swappable drive storage system.

Setting up Sync Toy to manage file backups, file changes and renames, appears to be a fairly simple procedure. During the initial programming, you are asked to choose a folder pair where designated files are synchronized one to the other on a schedule that you choose, with options for more or less control over the process. If I can get this to work easily without some sort of battle with the Win Vista operating system, I will be a happy camper!

What Does Sync Toy Do?

From Microsoft....

'Sync Toy synchronizes the files in folders of your choosing. It does so by copying, renaming, and deleting files. ' ...............'You can even set up Sync Toy to run unattended. ' ......'The powerful preview feature in Sync Toy shows you exactly what is going to happen before any files are touched. Preview even gives you a chance to unselect any proposed actions before you start.'

Sounds a little scary, but I'll be giving it a try!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Win Vista Is My B#*tch!

Geek Time!

After more than a week of boots, re - boots, hard drive installs and removals, disk formatting and software updating, I might just have a usable system for my imaging workflow. With a clean system and a dependable color balance thanks to the Gretag Macbeth - eye one profiling, I can hopefully get back to some work in Photoshop. The problem with Win Vista overriding my video look - up tables was resolved with a 512 MB, DDR 2 Evga Graphics card added in my PCI Express slot. Take that Bill Gates! ..........try and turn off my ICC Profile now Jerk!

Other upgrades include a 160 GB SATA drive in addition to the 320 GB Main HDD running my Operating System. The 160 SATA is expressly reserved and labeled as a Photoshop scratch disk set with 'write caching' and 'advanced performance' ( Scary! ) enabled. All image files are saved to a third 500 GB SATA disk labeled as DC Storage ( ?..... I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you! ) with no other data allowed. Using each drive for only one function, the Main Drive runs my OS and loaded programs, the scratch disk is only used for Photoshop and the big 500GB drive is only used to store image files. That's just the storage on the inside of the computer. With my new PCI E 1x SATA-E raid card installed, I will eventually put 2 more 500 GB drives on the desktop for long term backup and storage. The system is rounded out with 4 Gigs of RAM, 2 external high speed USB 2.0 hard drives ( 160GB Seagate and 250GB WD) that remain connected at all times and a newly installed 600 Watt dual fan power supply to replace the cheap 250 watter that came with the computer. The new power supply will guarantee that all my extra goodies will have more than enough juice to run properly with lots of extra connectors for the future. Wow! ...........I feel like such a geek.

Oh,........ but there's more! I also have Ready Boost enabled with a 1 GB USB stick running most of my background ( Antivirus + Firewall ) programs and two extra fans installed to cool my processor and hard drives. Fan number one is sucking air out the back of the case and I modded another huge 12volt fan into the side of the enclosure to blow air in. It has a sweet on / off switch mounted flush on the outside, provided by the the good folks at Radio Shack. It looks so cool you would swear it came from HP as an option.

And finally.......... because I couldn't leave well enough alone, I bought an inside / outside car temp thermometer and ran the sensor into the middle of the enclosure above the hard drives to keep a watch on overheating. The readout unit is mounted on the front of my computer where I can easily see it and looks as though it were built into the case. It proved to my satisfaction that my big 12v fan mod was lowering temps by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit in the case.

Still working on the Flux Capacitor...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Great New Portable Strobe Mods From David Honl!

Check this out!

I've been so busy getting my new Win Vista computer up to speed that I neglected to mention the great new products I just received from David Honl at HonlPhoto.Com. I was so excited when I received the package that I tore into the box like a kid at Christmas and unlike socks from grandma, these products did not disappoint! David sent me 4 items total, including his 8"regular speed snoot, the 5 inch "shorty" snoot, 1 speed gobo and the heart of the system, a rubberized Velcro speed strap that all the modifiers mount to. From the look of things, David has invested a lot of time and money into the craftsmanship and materials that go into each unit. Don't confuse these portable strobe mods for the cheap imported stuff you get at your local camera store, these babies are made to last! Pricing from $9.95 US ( Speed Strap) to $22.95 US for the 8 Inch Regular Snoot, puts these in the 'crazy affordable' price range. You might as well buy a set for each portable flash in your kit bag.

from his site:

"Put an end to rubber bands, tape or sticky residue from gluing Velcro to your expensive strobes. My Speed Strap fits any shoe-mount strobe unit, attaches and removes in seconds, and provides a large wraparound surface area to quickly attach gobos,bounce cards,barndoors, and snoots. Non-slip so it won't budge when attached." ...........'David Honl, WWW.HonlPhoto.Com'

Sometime soon, I will review the products in greater depth and put up some pics showing how I used each item. But for now, I must return to the war with my new Windows Vista operating system.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

VLUT In A Rut..." Windows Vista Is Killing My Calibration!"

Quick update:

Still in the death struggle with my Win Vista Home Premium OS. I have loaded, booted, rebooted, registry tweaked, downloaded and safe moded till my brain hurts. The good news is that I am winning the battle with my new operating system and I expect to be running at full steam by the middle of this week. With even more upgrades since my last post "Vista is a pain", such as a PCI Express raid controller for E - Sata and 2 new external Sata drives, I should have uber speed and storage to spare. It's possible that I might have to consult with Dr. Pimento to get the damn raid setup working properly, but when I do, the externals should access data as fast as my internal hard drives. Ain't that awesome!

Warning : Windows Vista will force unload your VLUT ( Video Look-up Table ) during boot up. This will generally happen after your color calibration has loaded and when the last start up program has come on line. Your screen will go from no color balance to proper color balance ( ICC profile, as determined by your calibration software : X-Rite, Monaco, Eye One etc... ) and then back to default windows color at the last second. This is frustrating as hell, but can be overcome. By dragging the monitor calibration shortcut in the Windows Start-Up-Folder to your desktop and executing it with a simple doubleclick, you can restore your perfectly calibrated ICC profile. This should stay in effect until your next system re-start or until your computer goes into Hibernation Mode. As a photographer using my PC for pre-press, I would suggest that you not use that feature ( Hibernation ) until Microsoft solves these problems. With any luck, I should have a registry tweak to fix or work-around this issue by the end of the week!

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Vista Is A Pain... But Not A Lost Cause...Yet!


My attempt at making Windows Vista run with the reliability of Win XP Pro is as of today an unfinished and not too certain experiment. I'll have to say, Bill Gates is kicking my ass at this point! With nearly every unneeded service and resource hogging application disabled or removed, I am still finding new bloat and processes that require battling on an hourly basis. Adding the long list of programs that won't yet work with Win Vista, Apples Quicktime as one example and the problem of installing software that hasn't yet passed the Microsuck seal of approval and you get a frustrating experience. If I thought that XP Pro SP2 had all the drivers to run my internal hardware, I would be burning the hardrive and performing a ritual curse on microsoft as we speak.

I've got to get this thing up to speed by the end of this weekend, Installing 2 extra Hard Drives, one 250 GB SATA as a scratch Disk for Photoshop, a 500 GB SATA Monster to hold the photoshop finals and a 3rd Gig of RAM. I will also be testing out the Ready Boost feature with an external 1 GB USB thumb drive for running background programs like antivirus, firewall etc...

If you see someone running wildly down your street carrying a large desktop, mumbling obscenities, it might not be me, but it's probably someone who's upgraded to Windows Vista!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

New Canons Trigger Expected Price Drop...5D Looking More Affordable!

Canon USA...where are those rebates?

Canon Europe is offering rebates on three of their top selling DSLR's, anywhere from 70 Euros for the 40D and 400D to a whopping 200 Euros for the EOS 5D. Purchasers can get a rebate check mailed to them from Canon or have their refund directly deposited into their bank accounts. For those of us not living in the land of wine and cheese, fish and chips, goulash etc... we'll just have to wait and see if Canon USA is going to give our bank accounts some love too.

Rumor has it that rebates are the first step in clearing out the inventory to make way for newer camera models. We've just seen the introduction of two great new Canon DSLR's, the EOS 1Ds Mark III and the very affordable EOS 40D. Speculation is growing on the possibility of an upgrade ( replacement ) for the full frame 12.8 Megapixel 5D, coming as soon as early February 2008! With the significant improvements implemented in the recently released Mark III and 40D, I can't imagine what digital goodness the folks at Canon are preparing for the highly regarded 5D. I just hope the damn thing has autofocus that really works!

P.S. If your gonna buy any new camera or photo equipment, please visit our friends at B&H Photo, via the Banner Ad link above this post. They are probably the largest and most trusted Photo / Video retailers in the world and no one has lower prices! 95 percent of my cameras and equipment have come from B&H for well over 20 years. Just click on the link and surf to find your next Canon or Nikon, strobes, digital media etc... and I will receive a big fat check that will help to support a starving family ( Not Really ) in Cary NC. I might even pay the occasional cell phone bill with the proceeds:)

COMING SOON: My update to Widows Vista...Stud or Dud!

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Windows Vista...Stud or Dud?

No time like the present!

Windows Vista...Stud or Dud? I still don't know the answer to that question, but I'm about to find out. My dependable Compaq, 2.8 GHz, 1 GB Ram enabled file muncher, has given up the ghost. After tens of thousands of raw files converted and countless hours of flawless photoshop actions, my CPU has taken an early retirement! I have been forced into one of the hardest purchase decisions in recent history, to Vista or not to Vista.

I have been dreading the moment that I would have to make the choice to give up my beloved Win XP Pro Corporate, which has been the most dependable operating system I have ever used. Not one blue screen of death or error message in nearly 2 1/2 years. It booted quickly, didn't fight with my Photoshop ram settings and raced through the Internet like a bullet. Win Xp never asked me any questions that I didn't know the answer too and pretty much kept to itself. I'm afraid that Windows Vista Home Premium isn't going to be so well behaved. I might have to take the digital scalpel to the registry and beat this OS into submission.

Here are the specs on my new desktop computer:

*AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4400+2.30 GHz, 32 bit OS and 2 GB of DDR2 RAM

I'll keep you posted...

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sony's OLED's To Replace LCD Technology?

Coming soon!

Sony Electronics will be offering television purchasing consumers a new technology this Christmas to compete with the LCD flat screen display. Organic light emitting diodes (OLED) are billed as having superior levels of contrast and brightness and an expanded range of color reproduction. Without the need for backlighting, the electroluminescent organic materials can be used to make thinner and lighter televisions and computer monitors. Manufacturing with OLEDs is said to be easier and less expensive than the competing process used to produce LCD displays, utilizing a technique similar to inkjet or screen printing to lay down the screen surface. With a touted contrast ratio in the 1,000,000 : 1 range and color reproduction unparalleled by LCD or even plasma display technology, the OLED option promises to be a big hit with consumers. Displays for graphic artists and photographers are rumored to be in the works!

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Monitor Calibration Helper and Guide

Continuing from the "Monitor Calibration and Gamma" post on Sept 19th:

Part Two:

Now that you've manually adjusted your screen to an acceptable brightness / contrast level for your work environment, its time to dim the room lights, or better yet, turn them off completely. This will insure that the only light transmitted to your eyes and the calibration hardware, is the light produced by the screen, guaranteeing a much more accurate color calibration.

You are now ready to attach the sensor of the colorimeter to the front and center spot of your LCD or CRT screen. Make sure you have turned off your screensaver or any other programs that might interfere with the test. Secure the colorimeter, start the calibration software and be careful to follow all the onscreen instructions. The rest of the fine tuning will be done by the colorimeter in conjunction with your computers processor and the software driver that runs your monitor. Without the combination of software and colorimeter hardware to measure the color channels, you would just have to make a visual guess at the RGB color settings. The human eye just isn't capable of the same level of accuracy achievable with software based calibration tools. Thank goodness for technology!

* Warning: Some Calibrators give you the option to do things manually, ( the hard way) changing the contrast and brightness levels as a step in the calibration process. Try and avoid the 'hard way', because this may screw up your previous adjustments to contrast and brightness, leaving you with a perfectly color corrected screen that's annoyingly too bright or dark for your eyes and work environment. If given the choice, use the easy "Wizard Option" that comes with most of the color calibrators and let the software do all the tinkering. This usually keeps your contrast / brightness preferences largely unaffected.

You will be amazed at what a difference it can make in your color workflow, knowing that you have a balanced, accurate monitor, not to mention how much it helps to combat eyestrain. Still, it's a good idea to step away from the screen every thirty minutes or so to re - adjust and rest your eyes. Stare at any midtone or highlight long enough and it will appear white ( color neutral ) to the naked eye. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and when you come back to your work, take a look at your image with a fresh pair of eyes!


I have created a Screen Calibration Helper that can be found at the bottom of the page. Use it before you run any screen calibration software or hardware to 'ballpark' your monitors contrast and brightness settings.

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