Apple MacBook Pro Update

Darren wrote this at 8:34 pm:

Apple has just updated their MacBook Pros to the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It’s probably a little earlier than many had predicted, but it’ll certainly be a well-received upgrade.

The new MBPs are slightly faster (clock-speed-wise) than the previous model, have Core 2 Duo, HDD options of 100GB (7200 rpm)/160GB (5400 rpm)/200GB (4200 rpm), RAM up to 3GB (1x2GB + 1x1GB), FW800 and dual-layer SuperDrives.

I’ve been trying to decide between getting a 17″ MacBook Pro or a 13″ MacBook with a Dell 24″ LCD (I can salary package a new laptop each year, effectively buying it with pre-tax money). The two setups would work out to almost exactly the same price.

The MBP obviously has a larger built-in screen, is faster, has better graphics, and a few more ports and things. However, the MB + 24″ LCD offers better portability and a nice big screen for when I’m working at my desk. I’m leaning towards the MB + LCD at this stage, but I’m hoping for an MB upgrade early next year (I need to make the purchase before April).

Which way would you go, and why?

Canon EOS 400D Reviews

Darren wrote this at 1:21 am:

I’ve added a new page to collect reviews of the Canon EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi digital SLR.

As always, feel free to email me any link recommendations.

Delkin ExpressCard 34 CF Adapter

Darren wrote this at 12:52 am:

Good news for all the photographers who bought MacBooks or MacBook Pros – Delkin has released an ExpressCard 34 compact flash adapter, allowing CF card transfer rates of up to 20 MB/second. It works with both Macs and PCs, it’ll cost around USD$60, and it should be available in mid October.

More information is available at Delkin’s web site: ExpressCard 34 CF Adapter.

Graphics Tablets For Photography

Darren wrote this at 10:54 am:

I was doing a bit of research this week, trying to figure out whether I’d be better off getting a 4×5″ graphics tablet or a 6×8″ one.

A few helpful reviews I found include:

In summary, most people seem to agree that a 4×5″ graphics tablet is best for photographers. Any larger, and you need to move your whole hand rather than just your wrist when working, which reduces accuracy and slows you down. A smaller tablet will also be cheaper and more portable, which is great for photographers who want to take their tablet on the road with them for use with a laptop.

For illustration work, on the other hand, 6×8″ or even larger seems to be recommended. This is especially true for classically-trained illustrators who tend to draw from the shoulder with larger strokes, rather than from the wrist.

Photographing Jewellery

Darren wrote this at 9:57 am:

I just received this question from a visitor:

I am currently using a Canon Eos 20D and am trying to get the best result shooting very beautiful jewellery and diamonds etc.

What settings, lighting, etc do u suggest to get the best out of this fantastic camera?

We are currently having trouble finding the best lighting system and focusing setting!

Please help

I can’t tell you exactly what to do without being there to see what you’re trying to achieve, but some general tips for jewellery photography are:

  • use a light tent
  • use manual exposure
  • use manual white balance
  • use a small aperture for large depth of field
  • use a proper macro lens
  • use manual focus
  • set up with a tripod, shutter release cable, and a stand for the jewellery so you can photograph items one after the other quickly
  • wear cotton gloves to avoid getting fingerprints or smears on the jewellery

I also found a great article on tips for photographing jewellery.

If you have any more tips, please add them in the comments!

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111 Megapixel Camera, Anybody?

Darren wrote this at 8:15 pm:

DALSA 111 megapixel CCD digital imaging sensorDALSA Semiconductor has just announced that they’ve developed a 111 megapixel CCD image sensor chip!

This square sensor measures 4″ by 4″ with a 9 µm pixel pitch, giving a resolution of 10,560 x 10,560 pixels. This is currently the world’s highest resolution image sensor chip, and also the first imager to break the 100 million pixel barrier.

Unfortunately for us the sensor is for astronomy, not digital cameras. I doubt many of us would be able to afford a camera containing such a chip anyway! Still, these types of pioneering projects tend to break new ground in the areas of technology and manufacturing, so we might get some kind of trickle-down improvements. Here’s hoping!

STA developed the record-breaking chip for the Astrometry Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory (“USNO”), funded by the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. The device will assist USNO in the determination of the positions and motions of stars, solar system objects and the establishment of celestial reference frames. DALSA Semiconductor manufactured the device for STA at its wafer fabrication facility in Bromont, Quebec.

Read the press release.

PMA 2006 Announcements

Darren wrote this at 7:39 pm:

There have been a lot of interesting announcements coming out of this year’s Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show. Rather than clog up this blog with dozens of individual posts, I’ll do one of these catch-all posts every few days.

A good related article is Michael Reichmann’s state-of-the-industry summary A View of the Photographic Industry From 30,000 Feet.

Pentax

  • Pentaxhas confirmed that the company will unveil a yet to be named Pentax 10 megapixel digital SLR camera body, tentatively scheduled for a formal launch in Autumn 2006.
  • The smc Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2AL Limited is an interchangeable uni-focal wide-angle lens for exclusive use with Pentaxdigital SLR camera bodies. Offering wide-perspective coverage with a 68-degree angle of view (equivalent in focal length to 32mm in the 35mm format, when mounted on a Pentax *ist D series digital SLR camera body), the lens features a Pentax-original KAF lens mount. Pentax has tentatively scheduled the lens launch for June 2006.
  • Pentax also will preview the Pentax 645 medium format digital SLR camera for the first time in the United States. Offering professional-quality digital image reproduction with 18 effective megapixels, a Kodak-developed extra-large CCD image sensor with 18.6 total megapixels (tentative), a Pentax-original 645AF lens mount, the 645 Digital will maintain compatibility with existing smc Pentax 645 interchangeable lenses.
  • Press release at the Pentax site.
  • Photos at DP Review.

Panasonic/Leica

Samsung

Canon

Sigma

  • 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM for Four Thirds Mount
  • 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC for Four Thirds Mount
  • MACRO 105mm F2.8 EX DG for Four Thirds Mount
  • APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX DG HSM for Four Thirds Mount
  • APO 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM for Four Thirds Mount
  • details of above lenses at DP Review
  • 70-200 mm F2.8 EX DG Macro – details at DP Review
  • 17-70 mm F2.8 – F4.5 DC Macro – details at DP Review

Sandisk

Lexar

  • 8.0 GB Professional 90X Compact Flash card

More comprehensive coverage of and commentary on the PMA 2006 announcements can be found at The Luminous Landscape.

Carl Zeiss Making Nikon F Mount Lenses

Darren wrote this at 10:26 pm:

Carl Zeiss has announced they will be releasing a new line of ZF lenses in the Nikon F mount.

The first lenses to be made available will be the Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 and the Planar T* 85mm f/1.4, with more to follow throughout 2006. These are manual focus lenses.

They will also be making a ZS range of lenses, with the same optics as the ZF lineup, but using a 42mm screw mount. There are already M-42 adapters for a variety of lens mounts, so they will be able to be used on Canon EOS and FD cameras as well as many others.

More information is available at the Zeiss web site.

Carl Zeiss Lenses For Other SLRs?

Darren wrote this at 8:14 pm:

There are rumors doing the rounds that Carl Zeiss will soon be releasing their highly-regarded lenses in other mounts – most likely, obviously, Canon and Nikon mounts. The rumors are fuelled by an image on Zeiss’ web site that contains the text “Millions of SLR Photographers Will Soon Discover a New Dimension in Photography.”

You can follow (and contribute to!) the rumors over at DPReview.

This would be an awesome development, with many photographers swearing by the superiority of Zeiss lenses.

The Gigapxl Project

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

If you’ve been following photography web sites or geek blogs for a while, you’ve no doubt heard of The Gigapxl Project. These guys have built a very large camera that shoots 9″x18″ film sheets, which are then scanned to produce a 4 gigapixel image. That’s gigapixel, as in, 1000 megapixels.

The Gigapxl Project has had a good bit of media coverage lately, including a very interesting talk by Graham Flint at the Pop!Tech 2005 conference. You can listen to the talk at ITConversations. You can also read articles about the project at the Wired and Popular Science web sites.

So what’s the point of such massive photographs? They’re currently working on a project called “Portrait of America”, which aims to photograph the key sites that define each of the states of the USA and provinces of Canada. They are also working with Google to integrate their images with Google Earth, so web surfers can see the sights and explore cities all around the world.

Perhaps most exciting is the potential this technology has to record as best we can the deteriorating cultural and archaeological sites around the world for future generations:

In terms of the future, we have been much encouraged by the diversity of applications which continue to emerge. One of particular appeal relates to the documentation of cultural and archaeological sites which cannot be preserved and which inevitably will deteriorate with the passage of time. Many thousands of these sites are present around the world. Prime examples include entire cities such as Rome, Italy. In this instance, limestone structures which have stood for thousands of years have become the victims of acid rain. Stonemason’s chisel marks, until recently clear to see, have all but vanished. Only through a massive program of ultra-high-resolution documentary photography can such details be preserved for enjoyment and study by future generations.