Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Digital Stripe

Even though this site is no longer being continued in its current form, I have just launched a new site, The Digital Stripe. This site will integrate the photography news I posted here along with gear reviews but with a greater focus on technology. I will be reviewing technology related to digital media as well as storage and mobile networking technology. Come check it out!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Shutting Down in Present Form

The Digital Hub blog will no longer be maintained in its present form. I am going to leave the information up for historical purposes for the time being. It will be available at the blog.digitalhub.org URL. This is happening because many things have changed in my life and I no longer have the time to keep this updated. Thanks again for all the readers and great comments.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adobe Releases Lightroom 2.0

Today, Adobe released Lightroom 2.0. It has a number of major new features as compared to version 1.0. It is also Adobe's first 64-bit native application for Leopard as reported by AppleInsider. Once again, the Luminous Landscape has some very helpful information about this new software, foremost of which is a new video tutorial, The Luminous Landscape Guide to Lightroom 2.

UPDATE: I just started using Lightroom 2.0 and I really like working with it. It has some great features and its workflow works very well. I will be posting some more information on my findings soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pentax Announces Optio E60

Today Pentax released the Optio E60 compact digital camera. The E60 has a 10 megapixel CCD sensor and continues the Optio E-series trend of using AA batteries. Otherwise, things seem to be somewhat similar to the previous generation Optio E50. The Optio E60 will be available in a black finish in October and the price is a very exciting "under US $140."

Apple Releases Aperture 2.1.1 Update

Today, Apple released the Aperture 2.1.1 update. The changes are listed in the Aperture 2.0 Late Breaking News document. Apple states that:

The Aperture 2.1.1 update provides compatibility with MobileMe and addresses issues related to performance and overall stability of Aperture 2.

The document says that "fixes" were made in "Auto-stacking, Preview generation, Adding keywords, Comparing images, Importing and exporting projects, Crop HUD, Histogram, Highlights & Shadows controls, Dodge & Burn plug-in, Lift & Stamp HUD, Exporting versions, Slideshows, Adjustments pane and Adjustments HUD, Printing, Book themes, Help menu.".

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Aperture K20D RAW Support Fixed

As I mentioned on June 30, Pentax updated the K20D firmware to version 1.01 which caused some problems with many RAW converters including Aperture but not including Adobe's products. With Apple's release of iLife Support 8.3 on July 22, this problem has been corrected. No information was released with the update to indicate what it fixed other than a generic statement.

This update improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues. It is recommended for all users for iLife '08.

This update also restores K20D RAW support to any other applications that use the system support such as Preview and iPhoto. I am glad that Apple finally responded to this issue. I understand that other companies have also fixed K20D support as well.

If you would like more information as to what the exact problem was in the first place, read my post from June 30 for the full story and links to more information.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1001 Noisy Cameras: Photokina 2008 DSLR Speculation and Predictions

1001 Noisy Cameras has a new post detailing the rumors and their likelihood for Photokina 2008. The post is called Photokina 2008 DSLR Speculation and Predictions. It is a very interesting read and mentions Samsung working on a full frame sensor which likely would be used by both Pentax and Samsung. Time will tell but I am very much looking forward to what might be in the pipeline.

Pentax DA 17-70mm f/4 AL [IF] SDM Lens First Impressions

The Pentax DA 17-70/4 lens arrived today. My first impression is that I really like the size of this lens. It is just slightly smaller than the DA* 16-50/2.8 lens. It is also a little bit lighter. Even though it is lighter, the DA 17-70/4 lens feels very substantial and high quality. I like its feel even better than the DA* 16-50/2.8 lens. The DA 17-70/4 lens balances better on the K20D body. I am glad that Pentax has added this lens to its lineup. It fits in a very important space just below the top of the line DA* lenses. As I talked about in May, this is a great option for photographers. I am going to spend some time using this lens and I will post a full review and more thoughts soon. Check back for more information.

Luminous Landscape: Nikon D700 Review

Michael Reichmann of the Luminous Landscape has posted his review of the Nikon D700 camera. It is an interesting read and points out some things about Nikon's possible digital SLR strategy. As is mentioned, we can only wait and see how Canon's 5D replacement compares to the Nikon D700.

I am interested to see the next generation of Pentax products and how they compete in this increasingly more and more interesting digital SLR market.

Strobist: Nikon SB-900 Review

David Hobby has put up an excellent article about the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight on his Strobist blog. This flash is Nikon's new flagship flash and has some great new features. Most notably, it zooms to 200mm! Read the post for all the details.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Strobist: One-Light Night Landscape

A post was just published at Strobist called One-Light Night Landscape that talks about how to make a very nicely done picture of a forest at night. This is a great shot and I am going to attempt something like this myself.

John Harrington: Surviving the Downsizing in Photography

John Harrington who publishes the excellent Photo Business News & Forum blog, just posted an entry entitled Surviving the Downsizing in Photography. It is excellent and brings up some very, very important issues in staff and freelance photography today. Anyone interested in professional photography should read this. As usual, John Harrington is candid and very reasonable in what he says.

As mentioned in John Harrington's post, two other of his posts are also an excellent read. The first is Where Does All Your Time Go? and the second is The Conundrum of Doing Nothing. Both are also excellent and worth your time.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Vincent Laforet: "The Cloud is Falling"

Vincent Laforet, a well-known photographer, published an article called The Cloud is Falling in which he discusses the future of photography, photojournalism, and media. He has some excellent points about what is changing in these fields and how those working in these areas can plan for the future. It is definitely worth a read if you are at all interested in the future of photography as a profession. Vincent Laforet has also been profiled on Apple's Pro site.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all of you in the United States.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Canon G9 and ST-E2 with 580EX

I have been experimenting with my Canon Powershot G9 camera. Due to my desire for the best possible image quality, my tendency has been to shoot at ISO 80 only. This causes me to want to use a flash whenever possible. Using the Lensmate for the G9 causes the built-in flash to be significantly obscured and essentially useless. Today, I decided to work on that with one possible solution.

I decided to test out the Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter with my two Canon 580EX flashes. Susie, Tristin, and I headed over to a local pool to go swimming. It was a good opportunity for me to test out this setup. I was only able to use one 580EX this time but I did find the ability to maintain full E-TTL to be very nice. I always use the G9 in aperture priority mode and it takes care of the rest. It did a great job and I think this combination is an excellent one. There is one caveat however. You must have the infrared sensor on the flash in front of the ST-E2 so it can see the commands. This is very different from working with Pocket Wizards. It is nice to have E-TTL but the reliability is not as good. With that said, everything worked very nicely.

I am really enjoying using a very compact camera with RAW capability that is very, very good. It does have its limitations and you can forget shooting at ISO 800 or 1600 without major noise but otherwise it is great.

One possible kit out of this whole test is the Canon G9 w/Lensmate, ST-E2, and two 580EX flashes. This fits very nicely into the Domke J-803 bag along with miscellaneous cords and other stuff. I also used a Pentax 58mm circular polarizing filter and it worked very nicely. There is more to come. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Luminous Landscape Thoughts on Nikon D700

Michael Reichmann has some very interesting thoughts on the release of the Nikon D700. There are many interesting factors at stake here the foremost of which is that Nikon is making a very serious effort to compete with Canon at all levels and then some.

New Look

As you can see, I have been working on a new look for The Digital Hub. It is not complete yet but some of the major changes have been made. The most obvious change is the addition of a left sidebar. I am working on making the site easier to use. Please leave any comments or suggestions. Thank you.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Nikon SB-900 Flash, PC-E 45mm and 85mm Lenses Released

Nikon has also released the SB-900 flash and two perspective control lenses. These are the PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 ED and PC-E Micro Nikkor 85mm f/2.8 ED lenses. Nikon is looking to compete even more in the professional sector by challenging Canon for dominance.

Nikon D700 Released

As reported by the Luminous Landscape, the Nikon D700 has been released. As expected, it also has a 12 MP FX format full-frame sensor like the D3. As stated at the Luminous Landscape:

The D700 camera is a direct competitor to the Canon 5D, which is due for a referb any day now. It differs from the D3 in some areas, such as 5 FPS instead of 8, though the addition of a battery grip raises it to 8 FPS, just as with the D3. One improvement over the D3 is the inclusion of dust removal by shaking the sensor, the same system as found in the D300. Nikon's top-of-the-line 51 point metering and 15 cross sensor AF is also found, as is a top ISO capability of ISO 25,000.

Apparently, it should be available near the end of July. U.S. pricing should be available tomorrow. This sounds like a camera very comparable to the D3 but a little cheaper. It seems like it is pretty similar to the D3 in most areas and might be a better choice for most professional and amateur photographers.

UPDATE: Rob Galbraith DPI has the best info on all of the details of the D700. It is available from his site. The selling price in the U.S. will be $2999.95 for the body only. DPReview also has a hands-on preview of the D700 available. Nikon Japan has posted a 24-page brochure for the D700.

Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.5.4 Update

Today, Apple released the Mac OS X 10.5.4 Update. While this did not seem to have any fixes for the Pentax K20D 1.01 firmware issue, the update "includes additional RAW image support for several cameras." There is no mention of which cameras these might be but I am speculating that it could be the Olympus E-520 and E-420 cameras. The list of digital camera RAW formats supported by Mac OS X 10.5 and later has not been updated as of yet to reflect the 10.5.4 update.

Pentax K20D Firmware 1.01 Incompatibilities

When Pentax released the K20D firmware version 1.01, it made some changes beyond the bug fix. It changed some of the standard data for the camera. Instead of showing PENTAX Corporation, it now shows just PENTAX. Also, instead of PENTAX K20D, it now shows K20D. This is not really any big deal except that most RAW converters including the RAW support built into Mac OS X which Aperture uses, no longer recognize K20D RAW files written with firmware 1.01. The major exception to this seems to be Adobe's products which work fine.

The whole story in greater detail is available from RiceHigh's Pentax blog. Hopefully either Pentax will revert back to the old way so we can still use our files or Apple and all the other companies will fix the issue in their software. The latter is the most likely.

In the meantime, one possible solution is to convert all of your K20D PEF files to DNG files using Adobe's DNG converter (available from Adobe's DNG page). This causes another problem though. The date and time for Adobe generated DNG files is stored as the date and time in GMT with an offset. Unfortunately, when imported into Aperture this offset is not recognized correctly so the pictures appear to have been taken on the correct date but the time is 15 hours too early or a similar discrepancy based on your time zone. I understand that Adobe is working on a fix but it is not part of the Adobe Camera Raw 4.5 release candidate currently available.

The DNG solution gives a temporary fix but I will be deleting all of the DNG files and re-importing the PEF files once this issue has been corrected. As far as I know, the DNG files generated in-camera from the K20D do not have the date issue but they are not compressed so I continue to shoot in PEF for the space savings.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pentax Full Frame Dreams

There seems to be a great deal of talk in Canon, Nikon, and Sony forums about the Canon 5D replacement, a new full frame Nikon camera probably called the D700, and a probable Sony A900 which is also full frame. By full frame I mean the sensor is the same size as the 135 film format we used for years which is 24mm by 36mm. The advantages of a full frame camera are increased depth of field, potentially lower high ISO noise, and better resolution and image quality. This doesn't mean that an APS-C sized (like all current Pentax digital SLRs) camera cannot do very well either.

It seems that the professional market has moved to full frame. Canon's newest 1Ds Mark III along with Nikon's D3 fill the top of this market. These cameras take different approaches. Canon is shooting for higher resolution while Nikon is going for maximum high ISO performance and quality. We will probably see a Nikon D3x at some point which will be higher resolution like the Canon offering.

That leaves Pentax and Olympus as major players who do not have a full frame offering. I think Olympus will be left out of this race. They have put all of their efforts into a completely different sensor size, the four thirds format. I have to admit, I really like the idea behind the four thirds format. You can have a smaller setup of equipment but yet still cover the same range of equivalent focal lengths. This is also something of the argument for Pentax although not quite as strong. Canon and Nikon do not seem to have focused on making small and compact lenses to any significant degree.

Pentax has focused on the DA and DA* lens lines. These lenses are only designed for the APS-C format, not 135 full frame. It seems that for a major player to stay in the market they really need to have a competitive offering in the 135 full frame space. Nikon only two years ago declared that it did not have any plans for the 135 full frame format but they have changed dramatically from that position.

Should Pentax bring out a K1D/K2D/K3D or whatever 135 full frame body? Absolutely! I am not going to speculate on its specifications although for it to make sense in the lineup, it would need to be at least 16 megapixels. It would be silly to have the K20D at 14 megapixels and then the higher end pro body at the same or something less. It is fortunate that Pentax is working with Samsung because they have the facilities to make this happen. It seems that most of the higher end bodies are now using CMOS sensors and this is the case for the K20D as well.

This would leave Pentax with a problem though. The only lenses that would officially work for full frame would be the DFA 50/2.8 Macro and DFA 100/2.8 Macro lenses. It is possible that some of the other lenses might work but I think that is unlikely. In the short term, Pentax should pull out the designs for the old FA* 80-200/2.8 and FA* 28-70/2.8 lenses and use the optical design while redesigning the lens body and focus system to be SDM-only. As we have seen with the DA 17-70/4 coming out shortly, further DA and DA* lenses will probably be SDM-only or the old-style focus system like the Limited lenses for size reasons.

Pentax has an excellent selection of old lens designs for film cameras. They could easily pull these out and start with them as the basis for a new DFA and DFA* lens line. I already mentioned the FA* 80-200/2.8 and FA* 28-70/2.8 lenses but Pentax could also bring out the FA 20-35/4, FA* 300/2.8, FA* 400/5.6, FA* 600/4, and FA* 250-600/5.6 lens designs. This could create a fairly quick significant lineup of good lenses. All of these lenses would be professional level.

Now what about new designs? For the APS-C format, I am looking forward to the DA 17-70/4 and DA* 60-250/4 lenses. An equivalent range in 135 full frame would be great. That would make a 24-105/4 lens and a 100-400/4 lens.

In order to be very competitive in the professional market, Pentax would need a lens lineup something like this. Professional level lenses in the f/2.8 range would include DFA* 24-70/2.8, DFA* 80-200/2.8, DFA* 300/2.8, and DFA* 400/2.8 lenses. Professional level lenses in the f/4 range would include DFA* 15-35/4, DFA* 24-105/4, DFA* 100-400/4, and DFA* 600/4 lenses. The DFA* 100-400/4 idea may be a little too optimistic. Some additional and alternative designs could be a DFA* 100-400/4-5.6, DFA* 200-400/4, and DFA* 250-600/5.6 lenses.

All of this is pure speculation and we will just have to wait and see. I hope Pentax comes out with a 135 full frame format CMOS sensor camera soon but only time will tell. Keep up the good work Pentax.

The Digital Hub Mentioned by 1001 Noisy Cameras

The Digital Hub was mentioned by 1001 Noisy Cameras in a post about discovering new web sites. I hope that the information I post can be of use to digital photographers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Canon Powershot G9 Coming Up

I have finally taken the plunge and purchased a Canon Powershot G9. It will be arriving later today. I have chosen this camera because it is compact, has an excellent 35-210mm equivalent Image Stabilized lens, and has the ability to save its images in RAW format. The latter quality is really an essential for me in any digital camera. In addition, the Canon G9 has a hot shoe and therefore the ability to use off-camera light. I have read reviews of the Canon G9 on the Luminous Landscape as well as on Strobist and The Digital Story. Also on Strobist is information on syncing the Canon G9 at a higher sync speed than normally allowed.

While the Canon G9 has admirable qualities on land, it even works great underwater. I very much enjoy SCUBA diving and have wanted to get an underwater housing for a digital SLR but I have found that they are exceedingly expensive. The Canon WP-DC21 underwater housing for the Canon G9 solves this problem. While the Canon G9 will not do as well with its 1/1.7" sensor as a digital SLR, it still takes striking photos underwater. If you are serious about this, you should also get the Canon WW-DC1 weights in order to properly weight the enclosure. SCUBA divers seem to enjoy using this camera as is shown by a product review of the WP-DC21 case by a Kona SCUBA diver. I also came across a post on a blog dedicated to the Canon G9 about how the Canon G9 works for underwater photos.

Some may also be interested in accessory lenses for the Canon G9 to give it more of a wide angle coverage or a more telephoto coverage. From Canon itself, you have the LA-DC58H lens adapter that allows you to use either the WC-DC58B wide converter lens which has a 0.75X conversion factor or the TC-DC58C tele converter lens which has a 2.0X conversion factor. Because I am only using this camera as a supplement and lightweight option to my digital SLR systems, I am not really interested in these items. You can see a video of the wide converter lens on YouTube to give you an idea of its size.

The other essential accessory is the Canon NB-2LH additional battery. One other item that I am awaiting is the Lensmate for the Canon G9. It is essentially a metal lens hood like the Canon lens adapter I already mentioned. It is sturdier and made out of metal where the Canon adapter is plastic. I also ordered the Custom G9 Grip which gives a little better grip on the camera. I will be posting more thoughts on this camera and accessories as I have a chance to test it out.