A short while ago, Adobe made an announcement many photographers (among other Adobe’s software users) found to be rather shocking. Adobe decided to stop developing Adobe Creative Suite and focus on its CC software. CC stands for Creative Cloud. Obviously, it doesn’t mean they will stop developing Photoshop and other popular programs, many of which are among the best on the market. However, CC will carry a number of changes, and, while we can safely assume most of them will be welcome, there is a huge catch. Adobe CC package will be available as subscription-only. That means, in order to use Photoshop and other CC package software, you will need to pay a monthly fee and connect to internet at least once a month (there a several varying conditions), which, for me, sounds much like… renting. We wrote an article on the topic where we discuss Adobe’s decision in more detail – suffice to say, we weren’t exactly thrilled with excitement. I must admit, though, Photoshop wasn’t the main reason for me worrying. After all, I like CS5 and CS6 fine and, with the exception of RAW support, don’t see why I’d need to update anytime soon. What I was worried about most is Lightroom. Was it to undergo the same changes?
Today, one of the oldest mirrorless camera manufacturers has brought out a refreshed model, the Olympus PEN E-P5. It is a direct replacement for outgoing high-end E-P3. As you might expect, latest Olympus cameras features the usual technological improvements from Olympus, some being borrowed from the very successful OM-D E-M5, which we loved. Obviously, Olympus hopes the new camera will be as successful. Let’s see what they have to offer.
Olympus Pen E-P5
Featuring the same 16 megapixel m4/3 CMOS sensor as its older brother, the new E-P5 packs a lot of punch under the tiny all-metal body. There’s a tilting LCD touchscreen with 1.036 million dots, a superb in-body image stabilization that compensates movement in five directions simultaneously and manual focus aids. Most impressively, perhaps, you can shoot it at 9 frames per second with shutter speeds of up to 1/8000s, which is a first for a mirrorless camera. The same speedy AF system as found in OM-D E-M5 helps to make sure those shots are in accurate focus and works with continuous shooting of up to 5 frames per second. Even though we find contrast-based AF systems to be quite poor at tracking moving subjects, as with E-M5, all these specifications promise E-P5 to be a snappy performer. 1/320s flash sync speed and 44ms shutter lag (when set up properly in the menus) compliment such assumptions. Showing a good example to much more expensive cameras of all classes and, frankly, putting them to shame, E-P5 has built-in Wi-Fi connection.
For quite some time now photography enthusiasts have been very eager to know what Carl Zeiss has in store for Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount cameras. Ever since the legendary optics manufacturer announced that it will be making autofocus lenses for the two mirrorless camera systems, they’ve never stopped receiving requests for more details on their blog. What’s the big deal, you may ask? Well, the only photographers able to enjoy autofocus Carl Zeiss lenses were Sony Alpha and NEX users. The rest of the world had to make do with manual focus lens lineup. Carl Zeiss has been known for their extremely high quality optics for many decades, but avoided implementing AF motors, which many consider an essential in a modern lens. DSLR shooters are still left wanting, but Sony NEX and Fujifilm X series owners will now have a chance to enjoy possibly some of the sharpest optics around (assuming CZ lives up to its name).
The new CZ Touit Lenses
Carl Zeiss states that “Touit” (that’s how the line is named) is designed to take full advantage of the size potential offered by APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras. The new lenses are designed to be much more compact than their SLR counterparts. I, for one, am very glad to see such an initiative. We are yet to see if what Carl Zeiss promises turns out to be true. Fujifilm has been doing a pretty good job at keeping its lenses reasonably small, but quite a few Sony NEX lenses are rather large and feel poorly balanced when mounted on minuscule NEX cameras.
Digital photography has become extremely popular thanks to its accessibility and speed, but to get the best out of those photographs some time needs to be spent editing and tweaking them. Thankfully, plenty of applications are available for you to complete such tasks with, starting with moderate and user-friendly functionality of Google Picasa all the way up to most complex pieces of software, such as Adobe Photoshop (or simply PS). In fact, Photoshop is probably one of the most popular photo processing programs currently available. Most people that use it know but a few percent of its capabilities and are likely never to use all of it, myself included! Fewer people still understand that it has never been targeted squarely for photographic use (the way Adobe Lightroom is, for example), but rather all sorts of graphical editing. How much sense does it make to use such a complex and professional piece of software to edit simple family photographs? Not that much if you’re a simple enthusiast who just wants high quality photographs with minimal fuss. Thankfully, Adobe has something for you as well. Photoshop Elements (PSE in short) is a lighter, simpler, quicker version of its sibling. In essence, it offers all the functionality you’ll ever need to edit your JPG and even RAW images, but through user friendly tools and interface. In this Photoshop vs Photoshop Elements article, I will give you a quick tour of 11 capabilities of Photoshop Elements. Hopefully, this brief comparison will help you decide which one is better for your needs.
What is Photoshop Elements?
As the name would suggest, Photoshop Elements is a close relative to the Photoshop CS, but unlike its bigger brother, it’s not targeted at professionals. Don’t get me wrong – Photoshop Elements 11 has a lot tricks up its sleeve, such as RAW support through Adobe Camera RAW plug-in. On one hand, anyone familiar with the regular, full-fledged Photoshop will find themselves right at home. But Elements doesn’t encourage you to use any serious tools manually – in fact, it aims to do most of the work for you with just a few clicks. So if you want your family images to pop and stand out with minimal fuss regardless what sort of gear you use, be it a DSLR, a mirrorless camera or a compact point-and-shoot, this may well be your answer. Luckily, being targeted at a very different audience means the price is also significantly lower. Adobe Photoshop CS6 retails for around $590, while the Extended edition costs a whopping $900. You should really consider whether you need all that functionality, because Photoshop Elements 11 will set you back a mere $60 (current price with instant savings).
I remember not that long ago there were two types of lenses. Brand lenses, those designed by known manufacturers for their own cameras, such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus, and the cheapskate third party lenses you’d buy if you couldn’t afford the first type. Brand lenses were more expensive, but well worth the extra price. Better build quality, better optical capability, better dependability, better compatibility, better autofocus and fewer quality control and manufacturing issues were what you got for your hard-earned cash. Not to mention respectful nods from anyone spotting letters Nikkor or a red ring around the front of that lens barrel. A few years have gone by now and situation seems to be changing, however. Third party manufacturers have moved the game up and started producing some serious alternatives. Sigma is very keen to prove the point with the launch of its latest lens, the new 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM for APS-C DSLR cameras. In this article, I will introduce you to this new lens and give insight as to why it is such an important step forward in current smaller-format lens market.
What is it About This Lens?
In a nutshell, this new lens sports a useful wide-to-normal focal length range of 18-35mm on an APS-C sensor camera (27-52.5mm full-frame equivalent), for which it is designed. It also has Sigma’s fast HSM AF motor, which is similar to Nikon’s SWM and Canon’s USM technology. Zooming and focusing are internal, so length remains constant. The new Sigma also has 17 elements in 12 groups and sports 9 rounded diaphragm blades for smooth out of focus highlights. Some of the optical elements are aspherical while minimum focus distance is 0.28m. The lens accepts 72mm filters and is, unfortunately, not protected against dust and moisture. It’s also quite hefty at around 810g. The lens sits in Sigma’s Art lineup alongside Sigma 35mm f/1.4 HSM and is designed with aesthetic flexibility in mind. But the spotlight is the f/1.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. Oh yes. This is the first ever f/1.8 zoom lens for DSLRs.
Today, Pentax-Ricoh announced a new high-end compact camera. Not someone you’d call a conventional camera manufacturer (neither Ricoh nor Pentax, for that matter), the new camera seems extremely tempting, especially considering its price. Ricoh GR features a 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 28mm on a full-frame camera), and will set you back around $800. At least on paper, it seems to be targeting potential Fujifilm X100s buyers, only with a couple of features missing and at a considerably lower price. Another (even more) direct competitor is the Nikon Coolpix A, which is also much more expensive.
Specifications and Commentary
As I have already mentioned, a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor is at the heart of this new compact camera, which is in line with its closest competition, the Fujifilm X100s and Nikon Coolpix A. Following the same decision made by several other manufacturers so far, the camera does not have an AA filter. While I strongly believe 35mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length to be the most flexible when it comes to prime lenses, 28mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length in the case of Ricoh GR is likely to be appreciated by street photographers just as much. You may find f/2.8 to be somewhat slow for a fixed lens, but the Ricoh GR compensates by being very small and potentially capable in low light thanks to the ISO range of 100-25600. Even though you should take “paper” specs with a grain of salt, modern sensors, even smaller ones, seem to do rather well up to very high sensitivities in noise department. There’s no reason to think Ricoh GR will be sub-par in this regard or, at least, one can’t be blamed for hoping.
Update: according to official system requirements and some of our readers, Lightroom 5 Mac version can only be installed on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or newer (official Windows support includes 7 SP1 and 8). I am yet unsure if such restrictions are only theoretical. We can only guess why Apple and/or Adobe chose to limit users in such a way. I’m sorry to say there’s really nothing I can do about it not having any sort of relationship with Adobe other than being yet another user. All older Mac OS X version owners wanting to upgrade to Lightroom 5 in the future can do is hope such feedback is received (or update their OS). After all, this is Public Beta release and, as such, the whole point of it is to collect feedback and gain user appreciation. In any case, I urge you NOT TO remove previous Lightroom version from your computers in favor of the Beta, which will expire as soon as final release hits the shelves.
If you’ve been following our website for a while now, you must have noticed I am a big fan of Adobe’s Lightroom RAW post-processing software. There are many alternatives to it, of course – DxO Optics Pro and Capture One making the toughest competition. I admit I haven’t had a chance to work with either one of those for a sufficient amount of time and make up my mind whether they’re better or not for me. And it would seem Adobe’s trying to make sure people such as myself never do stray. A few hours ago, they released the free Lightroom 5 Public Beta version. In this article, I will give you a quick overview of some of the new features Adobe’s planning to implement in its upcoming full release.
Usually, I would provide you with a link at the end of the article so that you can decide whether to try it or not after reading what I’ve got to say. This time, I’ll go as far as say – just go for it. It’s free, it won’t mess up your catalogs and won’t damage your previous Lightroom version in any way, and it’s the best way of actually knowing if you would find new features useful.
“I’d rather have a DSLR for the money” – I’ve heard these words one too many times when talking about mirrorless cameras with beginner photographers. DSLR cameras have been the staple of image quality for a very long time now, and a sort of natural companion to any professional shooter. Many beginner photographers asking for advice on which DSLR to buy, especially those coming from point-and-shoots, find it very difficult to understand how a camera barely bigger than a compact can be a match to a big, solid-looking DSLR. After-all, wedding photographers, photojournalists, sports, wildlife photographers – basically anyone who is serious about digital photography – all carry DSLRs (with the exception of select few that rely on medium format and other specialized cameras).
Well, the month of wait is nearly over. The winner of Nikon D7100 will soon be announced, with only 8 hours left to submit entries. If you haven’t yet taken part, hurry, not much time is left! You can enter the contest by clicking this link – the rest of the rules are also listed there. We want to remind you that leaving a comment under this article is necessary, but leave only one – multiple comments will result in disqualification. Make sure to type your real name and email address and write what you are planning to do with the D7100 once you win it.
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A while ago Adobe announced Release Candidates of Lightroom 4.4 and Camera RAW 7.4. These versions were close to being finished, but may have contained some bugs. Today, Adobe has made the full versions of their updates available. The main goal of these updates is to add support for recently announced cameras (25 of them, actually), but there’s a number of important improvements, too. This is quite a big update. First and foremost, Adobe claims better handling of Fuji’s X-Trans sensor RAW files.
Camera and Lens Support
Here is the (rather extensive) list of newly supported camera models:
- Canon EOS 1D C
- Canon ESO 100D (Digital Rebel SL1 / EOS Kiss Digital X7)
- Canon EOS 700D (Digital Rebel T5i / EOS Kiss Digital X7i)
- Casio Exilim EX-ZR700
- Casio Exilim EX-ZR710
- Casio Exilim EX-ZR750
- Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR
- Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR
- Fujifilm FinePix SL1000
- Fujifilm X100s
- Fujifilm X20
- Hasselblad H5D-40
- Hasselblad H5D-50
- Hasselblad Lunar
- LEICA M (Typ 240)
- Nikon 1 J3
- Nikon 1 S1
- Nikon D7100
- Nikon Coolpix A
- Nikon Coolpix P330 (preliminary support)
- Olympus XZ-10
- Pentax MX-1
- Samsung NX300
- Sony Alpha NEX-3N
- Sony Alpha SLT-A58