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LensHero.com offering DSLR lens selection advice

December 17th, 2010

LensHero.com offering DSLR lens selection advice

LensHero.com, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, is a new website designed to help DSLR users choose the right lens, from digital-camera comparison website Snapsort.

“New photographers are left wondering how to take the amazing photos they see in magazines. It’s hard for people to know what the next step might be especially when the kit lenses that come with the cameras don’t cut it,” says Snapsort president and co-founder Christopher Reid. “We founded lenshero.com to simplify the process. The site helps users find lenses for their SLR camera based on camera type, style of photography and budget. Basically, lenshero.com bridges the knowledge gap for new photographers who need help selecting the right lens for their needs.” The site also provides North American and Western European visitors with pricing and where to buy suggestions in their domestic market.

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Online holiday spending up 12 percent

December 14th, 2010

Online holiday spending up 12 percent

Today is “Green Monday,” and we could see one of the heaviest online spending days this year. So says comScore, Reston, Va., which also has reported holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 40 days of the November – December 2010 holiday season was almost $22 billion. This is a 12 percent increase compared to the same priod last year. The most recent week (ending Dec. 10) reached $5.15 billion in spending, an increase of 11 percent versus the corresponding week last year, as two individual days each surpassed $900 million.

As for Green Monday – a term eBay coined in 2007 to describe the Monday occurring around the second week of December – this has tended to be the heaviest (or among the heaviest) online spending days of the year. An analysis of the past five holiday shopping seasons reveals that Green Monday has had very high spending levels each year, ranking as the top spending day of the season on two occasions (2005 and 2007), and the second heaviest spending day on two other occasions (2006 and 2008).

Interestingly, last year Green Monday was only the fifth heaviest day of the season, with the following Tuesday (Dec. 15) ranking as the heaviest with $913 in spending.

According tocomScore, Thanksgiving Day online spending this year was up 28 percent over last year. Black Friday spending rose 9 percent, and Cyber Monday online spending jumped 16 percent, all compared to last year.

“Growth rates during the most recent week settled in at around 11 percent,” says comScore chairman GianFulgoni, “consistent with our forecasted spending growth rate for the holiday season.”

Fulgoni adds that, with more than $5 billion in spending this past week, “it’s clear that while deal-seeking shoppers may have driven stronger than anticipated spending early in the season, Americans continue to demonstrate a significantly greater willingness to spend online this year than in seasons past.”

This week, he says, “should see some of the heaviest online shopping activity of the season and we expect at least one more day to surpass the billion dollar spending threshold.”

He goes on to note with Free Shipping Day occurring on Friday, “it is likely that buying will get distributed more evenly across the week rather than concentrated so heavily in the early days of the week.”

As a result, several days this week “are candidates to the heaviest online spending day of the year. It’s also apparent that as consumers become more confident in the reliability of expedited shipping that they are willing to buy online later in the season.”

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Industry consortium formed to promote photo printing

December 14th, 2010

Leading photo imaging industry suppliers have formed a consortium under the name of Innovations in Photo Imaging to remind American consumers about the importance and convenience of creating keepsakes at retail or online that are uniquely personalized with a photo. There is no substitute for the emotional connection achieved through the cherished memories of people, events or scenes revived every day through products featuring photographs. As solutions are developed to make imaging even more fun, fast and inviting, consumers will further enjoy the emotional benefits of photos and output.

The initial thrust of the promotion will emphasize the emotional appeal and value of getting a printed photo item; explain the ongoing advances in simplifying the creation process for personalized photo products so that consumers are not discouraged by initial difficulties or previous experiences; and provide an overall promotion of outputting photo products. In summary the aim is to simplify the process, sell the emotion of photo output, and then sound the trumpet, causing consumers to once again enjoy the virtues of life memories. The success of the program will be measured by media coverage that is achieved as well as feedback from retailers about increasing photo sales among their customers.

Under the umbrella banner of “Photo Gifts are Fun: Make One”, the consortium will initially promote the variety of items that can be made using photos, such as greeting cards, mugs, photobooks, calendars, multi-image prints, clothing and accessories, writing pads and even jewelry. This will run through the first quarter of 2011, covering the various celebrations of Valentine’s Day, Easter, Passover and Mother’s Day. At the outset the consortium will develop promotional programs, including a Website and Facebook page, focusing on the United States. Once established, the consortium expects to expand its activities to include North and South America, Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. Photos are universal in their appeal for social currency, gifting, and prominent display as well as to provide an archive of life memories that stands the test of time.

The goal of this grassroots initiative is involve all industry members in making consumers aware of the wide range of products that can be made with photos and encouraging them to try creating these products. To assist in this effort, the Website will contain a variety of educational and promotional materials already prepared by members of the consortium. A PowerPoint presentation that can be used by industry members for appearances before commu0nity, business and social organizations will also be developed. These promotional tools will also be available to members of the media, such as reporters for TV, radio, magazines/newspapers and blogs

Individuals within member companies. as well as PMA and IPI officers and directors, will be made available for interviews. Ultimately the consortium will leverage the power of social media, blogs and forums, viral campaigns and local media to drive the messaging. In this way the strongest advocates for photo products and photo gifting becomes the consumers themselves, heralding the emotional benefits to all their peers.

Founding companies of the Innovation in Photo Imaging consortium are: Eastman Kodak Co., Fujifilm North America, Hewlett-Packard, IPI – Independent Photo Imagers Inc., Noritsu America Corp., PMA – The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations; Unibind/Peleman Industries and Xerox Corp.. Don Franz, publisher, Photo Imaging News, was asked to serve as Secretary/Treasurer, providing the administrative support. Membership is open to photo industry suppliers, with PMA and IPI representing the interests of retailers and other professional photo output service providers.

“I have been very gratified by the willingness of the member companies of this consortium to work together for the benefit of all photo service providers,” says Brad Kruchten, Eastman Kodak Co., who was elected as the first president of Innovations in Photo Imaging. “We have assembled a dynamic group of people who are passionate about photo retailing and their enthusiasm is contagious.”

“We have chosen to try to inform all levels of picture-takers through viral marketing and personal involvement of the almost unlimited variety of products that can be personalized with photographs,” says Manny Almeida, Fujifilm North America Holdings, and first vice president of the new group. “Our goal is to encourage them to consider creating a unique photo product, knowing that once people become involved in the process of making these products they tend to become repeat customers.”

More information is available at: http://www.innovationsinphotoimaging.org

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Number One Tip to Advance Your Photography from Ansel Adams

December 13th, 2010

Imagine you were fortunate enough to have attended Ansel Adams’ workshop in Yosemite. What do you suppose the grand master of photography would teach you? The complexities of his “Zone System” or how to operate a large format camera, or maybe he’d talk about some esoteric point of photography, while stroking his gray beard?

Nope.

It’s a characteristic of many students to sail right past the basics and expect what they need to improve is some mysterious and hidden piece of knowledge.

Wrong again.

What they most need to learn is what is literally right in front of their face!

Let me ask you, what is in fact the most fundamental point of photography, or for that matter, most art?

Is it the operation of your camera, our how to control a complex system? Or how to get that perfect exposure? Or which filter to use to get the sky to turn black (as Ansel of did)?

Or could it be as simple as learning to see your photograph?

Yep, this is about as fundamental as it gets–look and see!

The complete article is here.

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Repeat Photography Captures Changing Landscapes

December 10th, 2010

Repeat Photography Captures Changing Landscapes

Some interesting photos from Wired.com.

Taking photos from the same vantage point years apart has been used to study changes in the landscape since the late 19th century. The technique got its start as a way to document the retreat of European glaciers.

For 50 years, the U.S. Geological Survey has been building an archive old photos of desert landscapes and revisiting the sites to take new photos. The result is the largest collection of repeat photography in the world.

Some of these sets of photos appear in a new book about the technique and the effects of climatic variation and land-use that it can document. We have a few of the most interesting repeat photographs in this gallery that show changes such as the retreat of glaciers seen above, the birth and death of cactus forests, the excavation of ruins and the shifting of a river channel.

The complete article and photos are available here.


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International has low angle viewfinder for pros

December 9th, 2010

International has low angle viewfinder for pros

A professional viewfinder for shooting low angles is available from International Supplies, Inglewood, Calif., for both photographers and videographers. Made by Varavon, this device attaches to the camera and with the use of two built-in angled mirrors, allows users to simply look down into the viewfinder to see the shot.

The Pro Finder basically works like a medium format Hasselblad or Mamiya RZ67, says the company, but with parralax correction.

The Pro Finder features a 3x zoom so users can magnify their shots to make sure they are in focus, diopter correction, and a loupe. When not being used for low angle photo and video capture, the device can be used as a regular viewfinder or transformed into a hood. Use of the finder also prevents condensation from building up on lenses.

It works with the Canon 5D Mark II, 7D and Rebel T2i cameras.

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HDR Express now available

December 9th, 2010

Unified Color Technologies, San Francisco, Calif., says HDR Express is specifically designed to meet the requirements of professional photographers and photo enthusiasts who are new to HDR software and looking to create stunning images quickly. With HDR Express, Unified Color has automated some of the most complex aspects of HDR photography and replaced the traditional HDR workflow with a fast alternative for creating the most realistic HDR renderings possible. The software is available for purchase through Unified Color’s website.

HDR Express automates key aspects of the HDR production process, such as tone mapping and halo elimination, offering a streamlined and very easy-to-follow workflow. After merging the multiple exposures required for the HDR process into a 32-bit image, the simplified user interface presents an animated exposure range preview of the HDR image along with five tone mapping preset options. Users can then choose from a series of color and style presets or create their own presets using the program’s adjustment sliders which manipulate brightness, highlight and shadow recovery, black point, contrast, saturation and white balance. In addition to workflow enhancements, the newly developed processing algorithms in HDR Express enable users to view edits in real-time.

The software is available in both PC and Mac “flavors.”

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Arca-Swiss expands R line

December 3rd, 2010

Arca-Swiss expands R line

France-based Arca-Swiss has expanded its R-line of medium-format cameras with the Rm2d, a smaller and lighter model. The company says it’s designed for high resolution hand-held photography, both digital as well as analog.

The Rm2d is said to be ideal for architectural and travel photography as well as photojournalism. It has the same design that won the Rm3d an international design award. The positioning and design of the hand grips allow you to go swiftly from portrait to landscape format.

The Rm2d, like all of the R cameras, has its own AIP (All In Plane) vertical shift in the focal plane. This means no “absurd” mounts are necessary for stitching. The manual horizontal shift of ± 15mm makes quick stitching possible: the vertical shift of +20/-10mm takes place micrometrically.

The line of lenses with Araca-Swiss R mounts is available in focal lengths from 23mm to 250mm.

The precision of the focusing device allows for repeatable settings with 15 micron accuracy, says the company.

Composing shots is said to be easy with its zoom viewfinder system which can be used with various focal lengths. Its also displays the various shifts.

The camera is compatible with all leading digital and film backs.

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Contour by Getty Images debuts Contour Style

December 2nd, 2010

Contour by Getty Images debuts Contour Style

Contour by Getty Images, the high-end photo agency specializing in the syndication of celebrity portraiture, launched Contour Style. For the first time, the photo agency offers beauty, fashion, interior, travel and culinary imagery. In addition, Contour Style has an exclusive distribution agreement with Europe’s Figaro Photos – Le Figaro, Le Figaro Madame and Le Figaro Magazine – to offer customers in the United States and Spain the publication’s editorial collection of fashion and lifestyle imagery.

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Higher performance CompactFlash specification proposed

December 1st, 2010

Higher performance CompactFlash specification proposed

SanDisk, Nikon, and Sony are jointly developing specifications for future image storage cards for the professional photography and video markets.

The three companies proposed the specifications to the CompactFlash Association standards organization.

The proposed specifications call for data transfer rates up to 500 megabytes per second, and require a PCI Express4 interface, rather than the current CompactFlash specification’s Parallel ATA 5 interface.

The new specifications’ faster speeds enable continuous burst shooting of massive RAW images, the companies say. The enhanced performance also allows users to quickly transfer storage-intensive high-resolution photos and videos from the card to a computer.

The proposed new format also has the potential to extend theoretical maximum capacities beyond two terabytes.

The CompactFlash Association says the new working group for developing next-generation memory cards is open to other CFA members.

The CompactFlash Association’s latest specification adds performance and functionality based on the Parallel ATA interface while maintaining backward compatibility.

CF 6.0 also adds a “Sanitize” command, which provides an efficient NAND Block Erase of the entire user data area to return the CF card to a fresh state before reuse or repurposing; trim usage guidelines; and an operating temperature range function along with adding Ultra DMA Mode 7 which supports 167 MB/second speed. “This speed enhancement enables a new generation of higher performance cards while providing complete backward compatibility,” the association says .

The new CF 6.0 specification is available for immediate download here.

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