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December 2011 news and reviews

December 29
EXIF tracking services help find missing cameras

Two services that search web images for the serial number of the cameras that shot them are helping to re-unite owners with their lost and stolen cameras. Both work by looking for the serial numbers embedded in images uploaded to services such as Flickr. CameraTrace, which costs $10 per camera, now includes a monitoring service that updates you if new images are posted. You also receive an identification tag for your camera, to help recover it if lost, rather than stolen. Stolen Camera Finder, meanwhile, requires only that you drag-and-drop a file from your camera for it to read the EXIF and start searching for public photos with their metadata intact. (via Sydney Morning Herald and PetaPixel)

December 28
App Review: Photoshop Touch for Android

Joanne Carter takes a look at Adobe Photoshop Touch for Android tablet computers. Boasting support for layers, and familiar Photoshop effects and filters, Photoshop Touch might just be the editing tool that Android tablet users have been waiting for looking for. Does it live up to the promise?

Errol Morris talks to The Guardian about truth in photography

British newspaper The Guardian has published a video interview with Oscar-winning documentary maker Errol Morris about the nature of truth in photography. In it he talks about whether photography can be honest or truthful, and wonders what's outside the frame. The video is illustrated with some examples taken from his book 'Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography' and discusses the power of 'iconic photographs' and the meanings they develop, divorced from context. (via PetaPixel)

December 25
Happy Holidays from dpreview

The entire team at dpreview would like to wish all our readers Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas or whatever you say in your part of the world. As we celebrate our 13th anniversary we're thrilled with the changes we've made to the site in 2011 and are looking forward to another exciting year in 2012, with even more new features in the pipeline and of course even more of the high quality content that made this site what it is today. Whatever you're doing today, enjoy yourselves and thank you for being a part of dpreview.com!

December 23
Introduction to Documentary-Style People Photography

Documentary and commercial photographer Giora Dan shares his tips for shooting human subjects in a documentary style. He covers three basic techniques - unplanned, spontaneous shooting, planned shots, and 'confrontational' photography.

5 Interviews with Successful Architectural Photographers

The thing that impresses me most about good architectural photography is its ability to imbue inanimate subjects - buildings and other manmade structures - with a life and soul of their own. Five prof. photographers who specialize in architectural photography kindly agreed to give me interviews.

Just Posted: Canon PowerShot S100 review

Just Posted: Our review of the Canon PowerShot S100. The S100 is the latest in Canon's range of pocketable photographer's compacts, building on the success of the popular S90 and S95. This most recent model offers a more ambitious 24-120mm equivalent, f2.0-5.9 zoom in front of a Canon-made 12MP 1/1.7" type CMOS sensor, marking a much bigger advance than in the last update. Is it another step towards the perfect pocket shooter or has the camera giant over-reached itself? Find out in our review.

December 22
BBC blog takes a look at life behind the lens

The BBC News website has published a blog post by professional photographer Matt Dunham, looking back at his year shooting for the Associated Press (AP) picture agency. Dunham was on-hand to capture a wide variety of events this year, from documenting the devastating Tsunami in Japan to capturing the British royal wedding. His post discusses everything from choosing the the moment to the kit he uses and is well worth a read. It comes amidst a week of fascinating guest blog posts looking at different aspects of photojournalism.

December 21
Fujifilm patents hybrid organic/CMOS sensor

Fujifilm has been granted a patent for an innovative organic-hybrid sensor technology. However, while interesting, it may not offer a compelling advantage over existing designs, according to sensor technologist Professor Eric Fossum. The company has recently been granted a patent for its work on a sensor that uses an organic (carbon-chemistry-based) material on top of silicon circuitry. Speculation about Fujifilm's forthcoming mirrorless camera has latched onto a technical paper the company published in late 2009, but both Fossum and the company say the work shows more promise for small-scale sensors.

Olympus raided over accounting scandal

Offices and homes of executives connected to the Olympus accounting scandal have been raided by Japanese police. The move comes after a report commissioned by the company showed that losses of $1.7bn had been concealed for over a decade. However, the company did successfully file its amended accounts by the December 14th deadline imposed by the Japanese stock exchange to avoid being delisted. These restated accounts showed significantly reduced assets, and the company is now rumored to be planning to issue more shares in an attempt to raise money.

December 20
Buyers' Guide: 10 Photographic stocking-fillers
Josie Reavely tracks down 10 quirky, inspiring stocking-fillers that will make perfect last-minute gifts for any photographer. In the last of our pre-Christmas Buyers' Guides, Josie looks at the fun little items you might want to consider for the shutterbug in your life.
Panasonic, Samsung, SanDisk, Sony and Toshiba create SD 'security solution'

Panasonic, Samsung, SanDisk, Sony and Toshiba have announced they are working on a 'security solution' for the Secure Digital format - a move more about transferring paid-for content onto mobile devices than about photography. The system will associate cards with content buyers, so that rights-owners feel they can allow those buyers to move copyrighted Blu-Ray and downloaded HD content onto the cards. Or, in marketing speak: 'enables the effortless consumption of online and offline content across multiple device platforms.'

Just Posted: Mirrorless camera roundup 2011

We've rounded-up the latest Mirrorless cameras, breaking them down into user groups and highlighting the standout models. Having used all the current crop of cameras extensively, we summarize their main strengths and weaknesses. So, which Mirrorless models should you be considering and just what do you get for your money?

December 19
Just Posted: Pentax Q samples gallery

Just Posted: Pentax Q samples gallery. The Pentax Q is one of the more unusual Mirrorless cameras, combining a compact camera style sensor with interchangeable lenses. We've been shooting with a variety of the available lenses, in a range of different situations to see whether the image quality is up to the same standard as the little camera's impressive build.

DxO Labs launches Optics Pro 7.1 for Mac and Windows

DxO Labs has launched DxO Optics Pro v7.1 for both Mac and Windows. The latest version of its Raw converter and lens correction software adds support for an additional five cameras: the Sony A65, Panasonic DMC-G3 and the three latest Olympus PENs. The additional support for these cameras, with several lens combinations means Optics Pro is able to support more than 5,000 camera/lens combinations. As a special offer, both the Standard and Elite versions will be available at around a 30% discount until December 24th.

December 17
Wildlife Photography e-book: available again on Saturday Dec 17th

Wildlife photographer and dpreview.com contributor Uwe Skrzypczak is again making his book 'Wildlife photography: On Safari with Your DSLR: Equipment, Techniques, Workflow' available as a free download. As a goodwill gesture, following the difficulty many people experienced in downloading the book last week, Skrzypczak and his publisher Rockynook will be making the English language version of the book available again from Saturday December 17th for a 24 hour period, this time on dpreview's servers. The German-language version is also available from Skrzypczak's website. Please note - this download is only authorized from these links and for a 24 hour period - sharing or downloading the book from other sources contravenes Skrzypczak's copyright and is likely to deter other publishers offering downloads in future.

December 16
Buyers' Guide: 10 Home Studio Lighting Kits
Josie Reavely examines ten of the leading home studio lighting kits on the market. Several manufacturers offer pre-packaged bundles that include everything you need to start shooting, whether your prefer a strobe or continuous light set-up. This six-page Buyer's Guide explores ten options that cover a wide range of needs and budgets.
Oloneo launches HDRengine real-time high dynamic range software

Paris-based software maker Oloneo has launched version 1 of its HDRengine high dynamic range photo software. Built around what the company claims is 'the fastest HDR engines available today' it allows real-time tone mapping and HDR manipulation. The software supports 380 Raw formats and works on them in 32-bits per channel to ensure image quality retention. Oloneo HDRengine is available at an introductory price of $59/€59 through the company's online store or can be trialed for 30 days for free.

December 15
Buyers' Guide: Enthusiast Raw-shooting compact cameras

Just published: Raw-shooting compact camera roundup. The ranks of photographers' compacts have been swelled by the arrival of cameras such as Canon's G12, the Nikon P7100 and Fujifilm X10, so we've spent time with all of the latest offerings and prepared a roundup of where they stand in comparison to the existing models. Are the old favorites still the best? Read-on to find out.

Primer: Mirrorless / Compact System Cameras

Just published: A Mirrorless camera primer. Mirrorless cameras have been on the market for a little over three years but now, with most of the major players now involved, we thought it was a good time to try to make sense of the market. In advance of our end-of-year Mirrorless roundup, we try to explain one of the most interesting developments of recent years.

Sony firmware for NEX-3, 5 and 3C brings LA-EA2 adapter support

Sony has updated the firmware for its NEX-3, NEX-5 and NEX-C3 cameras to offer support for the LA-EA2 SLT-style autofocus A-mount adapter. Firmware version 05 for the NEX-3 and NEX-5, and version 02 for the NEX-C3 are now available from your country's Sony support site.

dpreview.com launches Challenge of Challenges 2011

To showcase the talent and imagination shown by our Challenge hosts and entrants, we're once again running a 'Challenge of Challenges,' to find the dpreview.com Picture of the Year. This year we've made a couple of changes to the way we run this annual event. We've whittled more than 1700 challenge winners down to a more manageable 100 - selected by the dpreview editorial team. And for the first time, we're offering not only a prize for the winning entry, but also for the 'best' voter. Check out the details after the link, or jump directly to the challenge and get voting!

December 14
Olympus launches M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ power zoom

Olympus has announced a weather-sealed 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 motor zoom lens with macro capabilities. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ covers the 24-100mm equivalent range and is optimized for video capture. It offers multi-speed powered zooming with a manual zoom option. It also has an AF-hold button (marked as L-Fn) that suspends AF to avoid re-focusing on the wrong object. It is the first Micro Four Thirds lens to feature the same level of sealing as the company's high-end SHG lenses for Four Thirds DSLRs.

ACD Systems launches acdVideo Converter and Duplicate Finder.

Software maker ACD Systems has announced acdVideo Converter and ACDSee Duplicate Finder - two tools for videographers and photographers. Duplicate Finder is a Mac-only app that identifies duplicate copies of files, even if the filenames differ. Meanwhile acdVideo Converter will convert footage into several popular formats to make them easier to share. acdVideo Converter is initially being offered for $14.99 while Duplicate Finder is $4.99 if bought before January 9th 2012.

Just posted: Our Sony NEX-7 in-depth review

Just posted: Our in-depth review of the Sony Alpha NEX-7. With its 24MP APS-C sensor and high-resolution EVF encased in a compact body with lots of external controls, the NEX-7 is one of the most desirable cameras of the year for the enthusiast photographer - on paper at least. But at a body-only price around $1000, it's far from cheap. So does it live up to the expectations and hype? Read our 28-page in-depth review to find out.

December 13
Photographer Profile: Brian Griffin

Jo Plumridge profiles and interviews Brian Griffin - one of England’s most influential and creative portrait photographers. Born in 1948, this article follows his journey from corporate photographer to film maker and back to in-demand portraitist. This interview examines his career, gear, influences and techniques.

Unified Color launches HDR Expose 2 and 32Float v2

Unified Color has announced second-generation versions of its HDR Expose software and its 32Float HDR plugin for Photoshop. The latest versions add color dodge and burn tools, and tone curve adjustment, all the while using the company's 32-bit colorspace that separates color and luminance information to avoid color shifts when changing brightness. The latest version also includes presets, which can be created and modified, to speed up the blending process. Version 2 also gains the ability to batch merge images, using one of these presets. A free 30 day trial of both the 32 Float v2 plugin and standalone HDR Expose 2 software is available.

Adobe releases Lightroom 3.6 and ACR 6.6

Adobe has released Photoshop Lightroom 3.6 and Camera Raw 6.6. These are final versions of updates that were originally posted as 'release candidates' on the Adobe Labs site, and are available for immediate download. The latest versions provide RAW support for 9 additional cameras, including the Canon Powershot S100, Fujifilm X10, Nikon 1 V1 and J1, Panasonic DMC-GX1, Samsung NX5 and NX200, and Sony NEX-7, alongside over 30 new lens correction profiles. 

December 12
Retro photography part 1: 'Lo-fi' photo apps

We've rounded-up the most interesting mobile apps to give you that classic 'lo-fi' film photo feel from your digital images. These apps, both paid and free, can help you view your photography in a new light and, in many cases, allow you to share them with a growing community of photo-bloggers. This is the first article in a series about the increasing popularity of the 'lo-fi' style and how to achieve it through different techniques and processes.

December 11
Free download of Wildlife Photography e-book: Sunday Dec 11th

Wildlife photographer and dpreview.com contributor Uwe Skrzypczak is making his book 'Wildlife photography: On Safari with Your DSLR: Equipment, Techniques, Workflow' available as a free download. The download will be available for 12 hours on Sunday December 11th. The German-language version of the e-book will be available exactly one week later. As a goodwill offering, Uwe Skrzypczak and his publisher Rockynook will be making the English language version of the book available again on Sunday December 18th (There will be another news story nearer the time). This will be the only legal method of getting the book for free, so please do not share other download links.

December 9
SLR Magic announces 23mm F1.7 for Sony NEX's E-mount

Hong Kong-based lens maker SLR Magic has announced a 23mm F1.7 lens for Sony NEX cameras as part of its 'HyperPrime' range. The E-mount lens offers a 35mm equivalent field-of-view and a minimum focus distance of 0.15m to offer a good degree of control over depth-of-field. It becomes the company's forth E-mount lens (in addition to the recently announced 35mm F1.7, 50mm F0.95 and 28mm F2.8), which it claims it is the fastest APS-C lens of this focal length. The company is seeking volunteers to provide feedback, who will be able to buy the lens at a discounted price.

December 8
Apple chooses Instagram and Snapseed as Apps of the Year

Apple US App Store has selected two photographic apps, Instagram and Snapseed, as its Apps of the Year for iPhone and iPad. The choices, which appear to be region-dependent, are part of its 'Rewind 2011' annual roundup. The free image processing and sharing app has been selected as iPhone App of the Year, while more detailed processing suite Snapseed ($4.99/£2.99/€3.99) was awarded the title for iPad apps. Meanwhile the CEO of Instgram's publisher, Burbn, is reported as saying development of the app for Android is underway.

Article: Photoshop Beauty Retouching

Photographer and Photoshop professional Jean Miele demonstrates advanced retouching techniques that eliminate wrinkles and blemishes in much less time than you'd expect. In this article he shares tips on creating effective layer masks. He also shows how to use the red channel data from your image to create smooth, natural looking skin tones.

Tamron supports Sony NEX with E-mount 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC

Tamron has announced the 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC superzoom for the E-mount used on Sony's NEX cameras. The lens, which comes in two colors, makes it the first third-party manufacturer to offer an autofocus lens for any mirrorless camera system. Unlike the existing, DSLR version, the E-mount lens uses a stepping motor designed specifically for working with contrast-detection AF. The lens offers an image-stabilized 27-300mm equivalent field-of-view on the NEX and comes as an alternative to the Sony 18-200mm. Sales will start in Japan on December 15th.

Leica Announces V-Lux 3 superzoom

Leica has announced the V-Lux 3, a 24x superzoom with 12.1MP CMOS sensor. The camera has a 4.5 - 108mm F2.8-5.2 image stabilized lens, equivalent to 25-600mm in 35mm film terms. The camera is also capable of 1080p60 video capture with stereo sound and 12fps shooting at full resolution. Unlike the otherwise similar Panasonic DMC-FZ150, the Leica comes with both Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements. It will be available from January 2012. We've been using a production V-Lux 3 for a few days and have prepared a samples gallery that will be published shortly.

Just Posted: Leica V-Lux 3 samples gallery

Just Posted: Leica V-Lux 3 samples gallery. We've published a selection of images from the V-Lux 3 superzoom that was announced today. We've put together a selection of 38 images, shot in a variety of situations and using a range of camera settings to give an idea of what the camera's 24x lens and 12MP CMOS sensor can do.

Sony NEX-7 deliveries in USA to start soon - availability still limited

Sony USA has said the NEX-7 will begin to ship this month to some customers who pre-ordered it, following a halt in production cause by flooding in Thailand in October. Production is still limited but the company says it will 'aggressively pursue all efforts to restore full capacity' for the NEX-7 and other affected models (which is thought to include the NEX-5N, A65 and A77).

December 7
First Impressions: Using the Canon PowerShot S100

We've just published our first impressions of the Canon PowerShot S100. Our full review of the S100 is being delayed by concerns that the samples we've used may not be representative of final product. In this article Reviews Editor Barnaby Britton explains the delay, and shares his personal impressions of the camera's handling, operation and image quality.

Compact Flash Association announces XQD card format

The Compact Flash Association has announced the development of the XQD memory card format. The smaller XQD format is based around the PCI Express specifications, allowing write speeds of 125MB/sec and beyond. The association says the first example cards will be shown at the CP+ trade show in Japan, in February 2012. No details of capacities or which camera makers are likely to support the standard are given.

Panasonic GH2 firmware v1.1 with 24Mbps shooting now available

Panasonic has released its promised firmware update for the DMC-GH2, enabling 24Mbps video to be captured at 1080p30 (25p for European units). Firmware also makes a number of other changes including the option to deactivate the touch screen control (which we suspect videographers in particular will welcome). The download is available now from the company's website.

Fujifilm plans X10 firmware in response to 'white disc' concerns

Fujifilm has said it will attempt to address the problem of X10 images showing 'white discs' with a firmware update in response to customer concerns. The company statement comes in response to our enquiries about the problem, and confirms the phenomenon is caused by sensor 'blooming.' It claims the camera is working within prescribed tolerances and that the problem is not uncommon in other cameras but says that it plans updated firmware to 'lessen the effects' of the blooming. We have prepared a quick test of the issue (which we will cover in greater depth in the full review), showing the effects of Fujifilm's suggested ways of mitigating the issue.

Update: We have published a report on the effect of firmware v.1.03 on the orbs issue (Feb 25th 2012)

December 6
Nikon updates firmware for discontinued CoolPix P7000

Nikon has taken the unusual step of updating the firmware of its discontinued CoolPix P7000 enthusiast compact. Firmware v1.2 offers a broad selection of improvements and bug fixes, ranging from improved AF targeting to the correction of an error that meant the color temperature scale was reversed when correcting White Balance during in-camera Raw processing. The updated firmware can be downloaded from Nikon's websites.

Olympus report finds management 'rotten' and proposes legal action

Legal action should be taken against the responsible members of a board of directors that was 'rotten to the core,' says the independant report into financial irregularities at Olympus. The report confirms the use of an elaborate scheme to move around $1.7 billion investment losses from the 1990s off the company's balance sheet. Those losses were then disguised as excessive transaction fees when Olympus bought other companies, and in write-downs on the value of newly purchased assets.

Leica issues firmware v1.176 for M9 and M9-P

Leica has announced a firmware update for its M9 and M9-P full-frame digital rangefinders. Firmware v1.176 addresses what the company says is a rare fault that can occur when formatting some SanDisk memory cards. It says it has tested 'all types' of SanDisk card and that the latest firmware guarantees their proper function.

Book review: The Passionate Photographer

Adam Koplan takes a closer look at Steve Simon's 'The Passionate Photographer.' Seasoned photojournalist Simon has deep knowledge of photographic technique and, as a veteran teacher and podcaster, he is adept at explaining its facets. The book is structured as 10 steps toward becoming a more powerful photographer and along the way the author addresses both the art and the craft of creating a gripping photo.

December 5
Ricoh GR Digital IV Preview Samples

Just Posted: Ricoh GR Digital IV Preview Samples Gallery. We've been using a Ricoh GR Digital IV for some time, just long enough to get a quick gallery of samples together. As usual, our 24-image gallery contains images taken at a mixture of different camera and lens settings, in a variety of different shooting conditions. As well as 'straight from the camera' JPEGs we've also included a number of images converted from raw files, using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and processed 'to taste'.

Sony gives more details of OLED EVF from A77, A65 and NEX-7

Sony has published details of two OLED displays, giving more detail about the electronic viewfinders used in its SLT A65, A77 and NEX-7 cameras. The displays are based on white LEDs shining through color filters, rather than direct-emitting colored LED technology, helping them to offer higher resolutions combined with 90% coverage of the NTSC color gamut. The company also claims a contrast ratio of 10,000:1 - ten times greater than that offered by its latest WhiteMagic rear LCD screens, also detailed in the company's latest semiconductor newsletter. Their appearance in the newsletter is likely to mean they are available for sale to other manufacturers, raising the prospect of other makers' cameras appearing with high-resolution OLED EVFs.

TriggerTrap universal camera trigger goes into production

The crowd-funded universal camera trigger, TriggerTrap, has gone into production its creator has announced. TriggerTrap is a light, laser and sound-sensitive programmable camera trigger with built-in time-lapse function. It also has an auxilliary input and is built around Arduino open-source architecture, meaning it can be programmed to trigger a camera in response to almost any electrical input. The TriggerTrap is compatible with a large range of cameras, via cable or infra-red communication, it will be available from February at a cost of $125.

December 4
Photographers can have lots of different kinds of portfolios. With the advent of Apple's iPad, we can now have app portfolios. This article discusses how to make your very own app portfolio, to advertise your business, garner revenue from app purchasers, or simply show off your photography.
Article: Creating and adding textures to your photographs

Photographer and author Ellen Anon explains how to add textures to your images for a more 'painterly' effect. She takes you step-by-step through the process of combining and blending individual image layers in Photoshop. She also provides helpful tips and resources, whether you want to create your textures from scratch or begin with pre-existing material.

December 2
Buyer's Guide: 10 Essential Color Management Devices
Matt Golowczynski examines ten of the best color management devices on the market. A color-managed workflow is vital if you want to maintain accuracy between camera capture, your computer monitor and your prints. This three-page Buyer's Guide investigates the options from kit-bag accessories to full calibration and profiling suites.
Sigma to launch non-stabilized 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC HSM for Sony and Pentax

Sigma is launching a non-stabilized version of its 17-50mm F2.8 EX DG HSM for Sony and Pentax. The lens replaces the existing OS versions for these two mounts, for which most cameras have built-in stabilization. The latest version will be available from December 9th. The Japanese recommended selling price remains the same as for the OS version.

December 1
Nikon resumes DSLR shipments, full production expected by March 2012

Nikon has re-started limited production of DSLRs, following the flooding of its Thai factory, but does not expect to reach full production volumes again until March 2012. 'Alternative and limited production at our partner factories in Thailand has started earlier than expected,' a company statement says: 'we have started shipment of certain digital SLR camera and interchangeable lenses since November 30th.' The company also says the industrial park in which its main factory is based has now been pumped-out, allowing its preparation for resuming production. Nikon still estimates its lost sales at ¥65bn (around $840m).

Former CEO Woodford quits Olympus board to call for new management

Olympus' former CEO Michael Woodford has resigned his position as director of the company and called for a shareholder meeting to dismiss the rest of the board. The company's share price had started to recover some of the 88% value it had lost in the weeks since Woodford was removed as CEO for highlighting unusual payments by the company (he remained a director). Since then the company has admitted using these payments to cover up losses on earlier investments. An independent committee established by the company has reported it has found no evidence of the rumored involvement of organized crime syndicates in the deals. However, three board members, including the President and Vice-President have resigned over the issue. (via Reuters)

Roundup: Portfolio Apps For iOS

Joanne Carter of theappwhisperer.com examines eight leading portfolio apps currently available for Apple's iOS. Smartphones and tablets can be useful for photographers in all sort of ways, but its easy to overlook one of the things that they're best at: showing off your images. So which app should you use to show your best shots in their best light?