Nik Software Suite – Now $149

Google recently announced the opportunity to purchase the entire suite of Nik software modules for the bargain price of $149. As a longtime user and fan of Nik Software, I can attest to what a sweet deal this represents.

Nik Logo

This bundle originally cost $500, putting it outside the price range of all but the more serious photographers with deeper pockets. At $149, however, this suite will appeal to a much broader range of photographers. By ways of comparison, HDR Soft, maker of the popular Photomatix HDR processing software, charges $119 for its software – and this only gets you 1/6th of the capabilities of this Nik bundle. Imagenomic software, maker of Noiseware, charges $79 for this module, or 1/2 the price of the entire Nik software bundle price. Topaz, a rapidly growing upstart, offers some quality modules that directly compete with Nik’s software. Topaz, at this time, however, requires you to spend $299 to get access to its full suite of capabilities. And while the $299 suite price appears to be a good deal, I suspect many people will not use all these modules, thus softening Topaz’s value proposition. In light of its competitors’ pricing, Nik’s $149 suite represents one of the best values relative to photo editing software. I would strongly urge people to capitalize on this pricing while it lasts.

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Impact 42″ 5-in-1 Reflector Kit Review

There are times when you wish to manipulate light sources but don’t always have the luxury of having an assistant to position and hold a reflector. The Impact 42″ 5-in-1 Reflector with Lightstand and Holder Kit comes in handy during such situations, as it allows you to tinker with different lighting angles, position the reflector, lock it in place, and carry on with your shoot. It is like having an assistant when one is not available (albeit a rather silent one!). It also comes in handy when it is not convenient to take multiple lights with you on a photo shoot. The reflector kit can act as a “second light” by maximizing the effects of a single light.

5 in 1 Reflector & Stand

1) Initial Thoughts

Once again, Impact has done a good job of combining a few of their quality products into a useful kit at a value-based price.

2) Product Specifications

Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc – 42″
Shape: Round
Size Open: 42″ (106cm)
Size Closed: 14″ (36cm)
Surfaces: Translucent, Silver, Gold, Silver-Gold, White

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Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit Review

If you are into product photography, or perhaps sell items on a regular basis on sites such as ebay, it makes sense to have a lighting studio kit that can produce consistent, high quality results. The Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit is an out-of-the-box solution that enables you to quickly and easily start capturing quality product photos.

Lens 2

1) Initial Thoughts

This is another well-built kit by Impact that provides good value for the money and is a worthy alternative to kits selling for significantly more.

2) Product Specifications

SP Desktop Shooting Table
It consists of a frame and sheet of white translucent plexiglass.
Horizontal shooting area: 23.25 x 17″
Curved vertical rise: 23.25 x 14.5″
Includes: 23.25 x 35.5″ plexiglass sheet

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Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit Review

As you know from reading this site, Impact makes a number of excellent products that offer quite a bit of bang for your photography buck. The Impact 22″ Beauty Dish Reflector Kit represents a solid value for those that want to engage in portrait photography, but don’t want to pay more for a beauty dish kit than they paid for their portrait lens.

Olga-Impact-Beauty-Dish-With-Grid

1) Initial Thoughts

This is one well-built kit that will satisfy demanding professionals and amateurs alike.

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Anatomy Of A Winning Ad – “So God Made A Farmer…”

These words summarized what was arguably the best commercial of the 47th Super Bowl between the Ravens and 49ers. I was not surprised that this Dodge Ram Truck commercial rose to the top of the pack, since I have been a long-time fan of the man whose touching words graced the 2 minute ad – Paul Harvey. The most intriguing aspect of this ad was that it was as low-tech as it gets. No fancy computer graphics. No matinee idols. No pop culture icons. No questionable language. No massive creative ad budget. It was merely the legendary voice of Paul Harvey, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 90, reciting a 35 year old text… and a series of touching photographs. Let’s take a look at the elements of this great ad and understand why it proved to be so appealing to so many – even lifelong inhabitants of big cities whose only experience with farms has been watching them on TV.

Photo From Dodge Ram Commercial
Image Credit – Chrysler Dodge

The Power To Move People – The Messenger

Based on my recent article regarding Looklet’s LookCreator software replacing photographers and models in the clothing catalog arena, some of you may have thought that I was ceding the world of photography to high end computer graphics. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still believe that a photograph can have profound impacts and change people’s minds and hearts, and in some cases, their wallets as well.

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Impact Turtle Base C-Stand & Grip Arm Kit Review

As you know from reading this website, Impact makes a number of excellent products that offer quite a bit of bang for your photography buck. The Impact Turtle Base C-Stand & 20 Grip Arm Kit is no exception.

Impact_Turtle_C_Stand

1) Initial Thoughts

This Impact stand is an impressive piece of gear. It is attractive, very solid, and well made. If a C-Stand fits your studio needs, you should consider this model.

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Unwanted: Photographers And Models?

Imagine that instead of setting up for weeks’ worth of fashion photography, complete with models, hundreds of outfits, hair stylists, and makeup artists, you create a virtual catalogue based on computer generated models, photos of body parts, and photographs of clothing items and accessories that customers can interact with. No glamorous models. No famous photographers. No make-up artists. No hair stylists. No expensive studios. Sound surreal? It is already a reality – a virtual one – but a reality nonetheless. Looklet is a company that has developed and delivered the technology that makes this scenario possible.

Svetlana

Technology – A Walk Back In Time

Ever since my days of working in an engineering software company, I have been keenly interested in seeing how fast CAD and imaging innovations would develop and how far they would progress. First came 2D wireframe modeling, which rapidly progressed to 3D surface and solid models. Eventually, integrated CAD modeling software enabled mechanical engineers to provide detailed “walk throughs” of ships, buildings, and car designs. The process of “rendering” further enabled engineers to create much more realistic looks for their designs. The associated rendering software, which blended realistic surfaces, textures, shading, and light reflections on the engineering models, required very expensive computer software and servers – often costing upwards of $150,000 or more. The rendering process could easily take a few days before the software completed its magic. And while impressive in their day, the resultant animated “walk throughs” of the objects could be rather slow and amateurish compared to the simplest of today’s video games.

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Zeikos D800 Battery Grip Review

Nikon received quite a backlash when it released the MB-D12 battery grip and priced it at a whopping $616. While Nikon users have long been willing to pay a premium for genuine Nikon products, it was pretty clear that a good percentage of D800 customers were not going to bite at the MB-D12 price.

Third party accessory providers saw a huge opportunity and wasted no time in exploiting it. The first wave of MB-D12 imitators started showing up for sale on the internet in June of this year, approximately 4 months after the announcement of the D800. There are now a number of third party MB-D12 suppliers. Pixel, Meike, Zeikos, Phottix, and Vello are among the more popular names you will find serving this market. Some no-name grips even sell for as low as $25 on eBay. And although Nikon’s website still lists the MB-D12 for $616, you can now find it selling for $389 at B&H.

Zeikos_D800_Grip_Box

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Vello LCD Screen Protector for Nikon D800 Review

The Vello Screen Protector for the Nikon D800, at $24.95, is an attractive alternative to the Nikon BM-12 protector, which sells for $16.95. At first glance, I wondered why a third party was offering a product that was priced higher than the Nikon equivalent. I soon realized why.

Vello D800 Box Front

1) Initial Impressions

I have used a number of Vello products over the years and found them to offer solid value for the money. The Vello Screen Protector package actually contained two screen protectors – one for the main LCD, and the other for the top Control Panel. Both are manufactured with multiple layered optical-quality glass – a noticeable difference from other options, including those from the OEMs, that provide plastic LCD protectors and nothing to guard the Control Panel display.

2) What’s In The Box?

2 black-rimmed LCD glass protectors and installation instructions.

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Adobe to Provide Creative Suite 2 For Free? Not Quite…

Update: Looks like the information was incorrect after all – Adobe is NOT giving away CS2 for free. According to Dov Isaacs of Adobe, “On behalf of Adobe Systems Incorporated, You have heard wrong! Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2! What is true is that Adobe is terminating the activation servers for CS2 and that for existing licensed users of CS2 who need to reinstall their software, copies of CS2 that don’t require activation but do require valid serial numbers are available (Special serial numbers are provided on the page for each product download). Apparently there still is no such thing as a free lunch… ;)
See http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1114930

In a rather interesting move, Adobe has made the decision to allow users to download its 2005 Creative Suite Premium (CS2), which includes Photoshop, for free. One can speculate regarding the reasons behind the strategy. On one hand, it is hard to imagine that Adobe was counting on any revenue from this older version, since software firms normally only license the current version of their products. On the other hand, Adobe may be looking to entice some fence sitters to consider easing their way into Photoshop.

Adobe Creative Suite CS2 Premium

How does this benefit you? The Channel Mixer! My main purpose for originally purchasing Photoshop vs. Elements or other program was this one feature. As I demonstrated in my infrared photography article, the Channel Mixer allows you to extract the portions of visible and invisible infrared light in a way no other feature currently provides. This feature may not be exploited as much by others, but it is a prerequisite for those that are serious about infrared photography. I am now hopelessly addicted to the full blown version of Photoshop CS6, but if this feature had been available in other programs, I don’t know how quickly I would have jumped on the Photoshop bandwagon. By allowing users to download Photoshop CS2 for free, Adobe has lowered the costs and challenges for those considering entering the world of infrared photography. And this is just one of the features of Photoshop – there are many more great tools available in Photoshop CS2 that you can utilize for your photography needs.

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