Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Banding and Calibration

Microsoft Surface Pro 3_3

Just like Romanas, I love my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (in fact, I was the one who convinced Romanas to get one after my experience with the Surface Pro 2 and eventually 3rd generation). Although Romanas has already put a lot of great information in his excellent in-depth review, there is one big reason why I personally strongly prefer the Surface Pro over a laptop – I can work with it on my lap and it does not make me uncomfortable, as it does not generate any heat. But despite all the good things about the Surface Pro 3, there is one issue that can be particularly problematic for photographers: to extend battery life, Microsoft actually modified Intel’s graphics card drivers and reduced the number of colors that can be displayed by the device. For most people this might not be a problem, but for us photo geeks, this “hack” is actually quite a big issue, as it introduces banding / posterization to images. It also makes it hard to distinguish between some shades of colors, which is rather sad, since the high resolution screen is the number one selling point of this device (turns out Apple employs a similar trick on its MacBook Air machines). Another inquiry we have received from our readers is on calibration – is it possible to calibrate the Surface Pro 3 screen? In this article, I will provide detailed information on how to fix the banding issue and provide detailed instructions on how to properly calibrate the Surface Pro 3 screen.

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Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED Review

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED

After Nikon introduced the super lightweight and inexpensive Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens for DX cameras, many Nikon shooters started requesting a similar lens for full-frame cameras. Those who did not want to spend over $1500 on the professional Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G did not have a lot of options from Nikon aside from either using the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens on full-frame, or using the older Nikkor 35mm f/2D lens. Sigma’s timing on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art was spot on for a number of people with its lower price point and superb optical performance, but it also came with both size and bulk considerations. On January 6 2014, Nikon finally announced the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G ED lens to fill that gap. At $599 MSRP, the lens is not only significantly cheaper than the f/1.4 version, but it is also twice lighter and more compact. I had a chance to use this lens for a few months this year and although I could not work on a full review earlier due to time constraints and other commitments, I was very pleased with its optical performance.

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FastRawViewer Review: Best RAW Viewer for Your Workflow

FastRawViewer

No matter what software one uses for post-processing photographs, the process of selecting what images to keep and work on, also known as “culling”, can be quite painful when dealing with thousands of images. And this gets even more painful when working with RAW images, because operating systems usually have no built-in capabilities to view and properly render RAW files. Many photographers end up keeping all RAW images on their computers, because they do not want to go through the hassle of deleting bad images they will never use, only to realize overtime that their hard drives get filled up quickly and their post-processing time takes much longer. Those who try to cull images in Lightroom know that if a full size image preview is not generated at the time of import, it can take a long time to render each image. Sadly, Lightroom is quite weak at quickly previewing images, so working pros and enthusiasts usually end up complementing the culling part of their workflow with additional software like Photo Mechanic. At $150, however, Photo Mechanic costs as much as a retail version of Lightroom, becoming a cost barrier for many. Enter FastRawViewer, an amazingly fast and truly inexpensive RAW file viewer that has become my personal choice for culling images. It was developed by the same folks that created RawDigger – one of the best scientific tools for analyzing RAW images. In this review, I will take a closer look at FastRawViewer, go through some of its features and hopefully help you in simplifying both your workflow and your photo backup / storage needs.

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The Lume Cube and Why You Want It

Lume Cube

I was a bit disappointed by the Photo Plus Expo this year in New York, because unlike last year, I did not find a lot of innovative products to be excited about. It seemed like the exhibit floor was full of the same things we had previously seen, except this year the organizers did not allow any Chinese companies on the floor (most likely because some of them were selling the exact same products as the bigger companies at a much lower price last year). However, there were a few things that I found that got me very excited and one of them was the Lume Cube. After seeing the product, Roman and I actually went back to see it again next day to find out more about it and to snap some pictures for our readers. So what is Lume Cube and why do I think it is an innovative product? Let’s take a closer look.

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Sensor Gel Stick Cyber Monday Sale!

Sensor Gel Stick

We have just received a new shipment of both regular Sensor Gel Stick and Sony-specific versions and we are excited to join the Cyber Monday sale with $5 off on each product and free shipping to continental USA! The Sticky Papers are discounted to $9.99 as well for those that already own the product, also with free shipping! In addition, we are also offering heavily discounted Priority Mail shipping for $3.99 ($7.99 regularly). The deals are good only today and will expire at 12:00 AM Mountain Standard Time. A great Christmas gift for your family or friends.

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Top Cyber Monday Deals

B&H Cyber Monday Deals

Although Black Friday is supposed to be “the day” for great deals, I’ll admit that I was not all that impressed with what Nikon had to offer, aside from a couple of fine deals on lower-end cameras. Well, it is Cyber Monday today and things are looking much more interesting, with some great deals from Nikon definitely worth looking at. The Nikon Coolpix A did not sell all that well for $579 on Black Friday, but it seems like Nikon is either releasing a replacement, or just wants to clear off the shelves, since the price has been slashed even more – the Nikon Coolpix A is on sale for $499, for today only until the stock is gone (about 10% of the stock has already been claimed). At this price, the little camera with a large APS-C sensor is a great deal, so if you need a small pocketable travel camera, you might want to check it out! In addition to this, there are a few other deals like the Nikon 1 V2 kit for $499 that I found and picked for our readers. If I find anything else worth posting today, I will update this article.

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Top Black Friday Deals

B&H Holiday Savings

The shopping craze has started in the United States for this holiday season, so we wanted to do a single post that shows all the best deals we were able to find for our readers. We will be updating this article several times today and we are planning to do another post for the “Cyber Monday”, but only if there is anything worth posting. There are a few great deals going on today, but not anything particularly great from Nikon (sadly), aside from their lower-end DX and CX offers. Sony has some great mirrorless deals and Canon also has a few good lens and camera deals that might be of interest.

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Sensor Crop Factors and Equivalence

Full-Frame vs APS-C vs M43 vs CX

The subject of sensor crop factors and equivalence has become rather controversial between photographers, sparking heated debates on photography sites and forums. So much has been posted on this topic, that it almost feels redundant to write about it again. Sadly, with all the great and not-so-great information out there on equivalence, many photographers are only left more puzzled and confused. Thanks to so many different formats available today, including 1″/CX, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, 35mm/Full Frame, Medium Format (in different sizes), photographers are comparing these systems by calculating their equivalent focal lengths, apertures, depth of field, camera to subject distances, hyperfocal distances and other technical jargon, to prove the inferiority or the superiority of one system over another. In this article, I want to bring up some of these points and express my subjective opinion on the matter. Recognizing that this topic is one of the never-ending debates with strong arguments from all sides, I do realize that some of our readers may disagree with my statements and arguments. So if you do disagree with what I say, please provide your opinion in a civilized manner in the comments section below.

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Adobe’s Software Bloating, Performance Issues and Bugs

Adobe Lightroom 5.7 Crash

I will be honest, I am not a fan of Adobe as a company. I never liked their business model: their practice of gobbling up competition (sometimes out of fear), their Creative Cloud extortion and their sleazy management that only cares about their next quarter revenues. But most of all, I never liked Adobe’s poor software development practices. In my past tech life, Adobe products were always a big pain due to numerous security holes and huge, frequent updates. In fact, Adobe has been notoriously bad with releasing poorly tested software with too many security holes. In 2011, Adobe dominated Kaspersky Lab’s top ten PC vulnerabilities list, with “extremely critical” security vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to gain access to computer systems and execute arbitrary code. These security vulnerabilities spanned several Adobe products, which most PCs had at the time and even today: Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player. No wonder Apple did not want to support flash in its iOS (which thankfully resulted in the slow demise of the Adobe Flash), since Flash was a very badly written, resource intensive platform to begin with. Although Steve Jobs mostly blamed Adobe Flash for being a PC-era platform, two of the biggest reasons why Flash support was excluded from iOS were in fact related to security and stability concerns.

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Lightroom 5.7 and Camera RAW 8.7 Update

Lightroom 5

If you have been waiting for Adobe to release full RAW support for the new Nikon D750 (see our detailed Nikon D750 review), for the new Canon 7D Mark II (see our first impressions preview), or for a number of other new cameras from Fuji, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung and Sony, you will be happy to know that Adobe has just delivered the final production version of Lightroom 5.7 and Camera RAW 8.7 that not only provide the RAW support, but also come with a huge list of newly supported lenses. Along with these updates, Adobe also delivered some updates to the Synced Collections in Lightroom, integrated a utility to import images from Apple Aperture and Apple iPhoto Libraries, enabled support for HiDPI displays in ACR 8.7 and provided a number of bug fixes for both Lightroom and ACR. For those who like to shoot tethered, both the Nikon D4s and the D810 are now fully supported. Another huge news is for Nikon D810 owners – the color profiles have now been finally fixed, so you will not see any banding issues when using Nikon camera profiles anymore!

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