Data loss is a very painful experience that unfortunately many of us go through at some point of our lives. In my workshops, lectures and this website, I spend quite a bit of time advocating the need for a well-established workflow that incorporates solid backup strategies to prevent data loss. And during this process, I came across many different backup routines practiced by other photographers, some of which I found to be downright scary. You have probably heard of horror stories of professional photographers losing their life’s work, or wedding photographers losing images of weddings that they were not able to deliver to their clients yet. It sure happens, and it usually happens at the worst possible time too! It is one thing when you lose your personal data / photos and totally another when you are dealing with a client who paid you money. I cannot imagine how one could even handle a situation with lost wedding photos, as it would be impossible to recreate those precious moments. Sadly, for many of us, it seems like data loss has to take place in order for us to seriously consider a solid backup strategy and workflow. But it does not have to! In this article, I will walk you through two scenarios for establishing a good photography backup workflow: a low-cost and painless workflow for hobbyists, and a much more serious workflow for enthusiasts and professionals. For the second scenario, I will reveal my own backup strategy.
Today is a big day at Microsoft, because the company revealed the Surface Book, Microsoft’s first ever laptop. With its 13.5 inch display packing 3,000 x 2,000 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio, which is great for photography) the screen is very impressive with 267 pixels per inch. And since this machine just like the Surface Pro and Surface 3 can run the full version of Windows 10, you can run any calibration software to get the color precision you need. The cool thing about the Surface Book is that you can use it both as a tablet and a laptop – something Apple MacBook Pro cannot compete with. That’s a neat feature, because some tasks, like online browsing do not require a keyboard, so the ability to disconnect the screen from the keyboard is amazing. The keyboard module is not just a keyboard – it is actually another shell that hosts another battery and an optional NVIDIA graphics card (GPU), which is something I did not expect to see. This means that the Surface Book will be perfectly usable not only for gaming, but also for many challenging tasks, including 3D modeling. GPU speed was the weakness of the Surface Pro line and a lot of people have been asking for a way to hook up an external GPU. Looks like Microsoft listened and delivered. There is, however, a caveat with the tablet vs full laptop mode: since the larger capacity battery sits in the keyboard shell, the battery life is greatly diminished, with the tablet only being able to run for up to 3 hours. Still, that’s pretty darn impressive for such a small powerhouse. And speaking of battery life, once you hook up the keyboard, you will be able to get up to 12 hours of battery life!
Within the next few weeks, Microsoft will be releasing the new generation model of its successful laptop for professionals, the Surface Pro 4. Having been using the Surface Pro 3 since it came out, I have taken it all over – from the dusty Race Track playa of Death Valley to the red sands of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Being light and portable, it has been in my camera bag pretty much everywhere I go. I have always been a PC guy (although I recently bought an iMac), so I have had quite a bit of experience using all kinds of PCs for my needs. And although I have never had issues with PCs, my biggest struggle has always been laptops. Having tried everything from expensive Dell Precision models to lightweight ultrabooks, I pretty much hated them all for one reason – the amount of heat they generate, particularly when using them on my lap.
As much as I have been trying to avoid traditional spinning HDDs (hard disk drives), replacing them with SSDs (solid state drives) when possible in my computer builds, HDDs still have no equivalents in terms of storage capacity and low cost per TB. The largest consumer-grade SSDs that we have seen so far are limited to 2 TB and those drives don’t come cheap – $800 a pop for a lower-end model. Well, it looks like this is about to change, because Samsung has just announced the successful development of the world’s largest hard drive, at a whopping 16 TB of storage capacity in a small 2.5 inch form factor. This 16 TB SSD drive, which is code-named “PM1633a” at the moment, uses Samsung’s new 256 Gb NAND flash as the basis for the storage, which basically stacks transistors vertically and allows squeezing much more storage into limited space. And to showcase this technology and its potential, Samsung mentioned a reference design for a server with 48 of these SSD drives installed for a total capacity of 768 TB. Now that’s mind-boggling, because we are talking about a true game-changer in storage technology. What does this mean for us photographers?
This week Microsoft released the long anticipated Windows 10, the latest, the greatest and the last “operating system of the future”. Why the last? Microsoft claims that Windows 10 will be the last operating system with a version number, so we won’t be seeing a Windows 11 or 12. Apparently, the company has no plans for future iterations of the operating system, and instead plans to focus on providing continuous updates to the Windows 10 platform. That’s probably why the company skipped Windows 9 altogether, since 10 sounds more “complete”. Microsoft is tired of trying to convince its customer base to buy the next version of the operating system every time it is released, and the costs of ongoing maintenance and support for each OS iteration has been getting out of control. So it makes strategic and business sense to move everyone to the Windows 10 platform, and focus on selling a single operating system instead. But how do you move everyone to Windows 10? Microsoft found an easy solution – to allow every licensed user of Windows 7 and Windows 8 / 8.1 to upgrade for free. A great strategy in my opinion, which I believe will work in Microsoft’s favor in the long run. And we get the best of the breed at no cost, so we cannot complain, can we? So if you have been thinking whether to upgrade to Windows 10 or not, I don’t think it is the question of “if” anymore, but a question of “when”. Microsoft’s generous offer has a time limit – you must upgrade before July 28th 2016, if you want to take advantage of the free upgrade offer. In this article, I want to provide some information on upgrading to Windows 10 from a prior version of Windows based on my last two days running the operating system on my main desktop and two Microsoft Surface Pro 3 laptops.
As some of our readers have found out, there is an issue with the high-resolution, high-density screen of the Surface Pro 3. You see, the more resolution you pack into a small screen, the smaller the elements then appear – buttons, text, just about any content on the Internet. I am certain that the issue is temporary – as high-density screens spread and become common technology, these issues are bound to be resolved at some point. Still, if you are using Lightroom with the Surface Pro 3 now, waiting is not really an option. And I have some good news – there is no need to wait. An issue is only an issue if you can’t solve it. Luckily, there are at least two ways to make the user interface of Adobe’s popular RAW converter more friendly to both mouse and touch input, and both are as easy to set up.
Before we start, thought, let’s see what the issue is all about.
In my original review of the Surface, I mentioned it suits my needs very well when it comes to portability and writing. The Type Cover keyboard is exceptionally comfortable and the whole package fits very neatly into the tablet compartment of my Think Tank Retrospective bag. However, I did not yet have the time to thoroughly test the Surface’s performance with Lightroom and Photoshop, the two most popular editing programs among photographers. Since so many of you asked, I decided not to wait for the next time I was shooting out in the city to process new photographs “in the field” (not the best weather for street photography), but to turn off my PC at home for a while and instead work on images I’ve taken during my trip to NYC on the Surface. In this article, I will talk you through my experience from importing the RAW files to the Surface in Lightroom, to exporting them, all (hopefully) on a single charge of battery. Let’s see if it will manage.
Here I am, sitting at a cozy coffee house. Not just some coffee house, too, but a place where a lot of young people hang out – students, mostly. They come here for a cup of coffee much like people do at Starbucks overseas. Like me, they also come here to work – I’ve seen more MacBooks here than I did in iDeal (official Apple product distributor in Lithuania, similar to iStore / Apple Store). But I don’t have a MacBook. Perhaps that is why through the corner of my eye I notice a young girl looking my way. Now, my Julie has no reason to worry. The girl is not interested in me whatsoever. What caught her eye is the computer on my lap. She notices me noticing her and immediately says – “What sort of computer is that? It’s pretty.” Right. So this might not help my self esteem, but the girl is indeed correct. I appreciate a good design and, well, this thing looks the part. Coupled with the bright blue keyboard, certainly good enough to attract attention.
Whether you want it to attract attention or not is a different matter. More importantly, though, it’s not all looks and no substance. Quite the contrary, in fact – Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is ready to give someone a bloody nose.
I never thought that I would be reviewing an Apple Mac Pro, since I have never owned a Mac and was always a PC user. In fact, the last time I really handled a Mac was about 14 years ago, when I worked as an IT tech at the University of Colorado, servicing campus computers. Since then, aside from occasional encounters at local stores or friend’s houses, I have been keeping myself away from Macs. Although I have nothing against Apple in general, there were a number of reasons why I kept myself on the PC platform. The first and the biggest reason was personal preference – having been “PC-savvy” for many years, building computers and providing support for them (whether it was for my family, friends or work), I was pretty content with what I had and never really had much interest in Macs. Second, having spent the majority of my adult life working for various companies and organizations, I took part in building PC and server networks based on the Microsoft OS platform, as Macs have just not been very popular in the corporate world. Lastly, cost was also an issue – for the price of a Mac, I could easily build a PC or buy one at half the cost.
One of the biggest challenges that we photographers face when traveling is productivity – being able to import, access and back up captured photographs and sometimes even edit them to be posted online or provided to a client. While we have plenty of gadgets today to accomplish this task, the world seems to be divided between three camps – full-featured laptops that come with bulk, weight and very little battery life, highly mobile tablets that pack enough battery life to keep you busy, but don’t have the juice to run anything serious, or “ultrabooks” that fall in-between, being a compromise in terms of weight, bulk and performance.