What’s Tim Fitzharris doing? I maintain a virtual shrine to his scenic and wildlife photography. And when I glanced at the October issue (“Nature”), I saw that he’d scored again with the magnificent bugling bull elk. How amazing is that photo, with the breath and snow squall...or not.
It’s your turn to prove who’s the best shooter on the planet
TAKE A LOOK AT THIS MONTH'S cover. It's a damn good photo. Could you have taken it? If the answer is "yes," then let me ask you a few more questions: •How are you under pressure? •Can you think fast, work fast, and get the shot when the going gets tough?
NAOMI HARRIS, A NEW YORK photographer famous for her Haddon Hall series documenting the Haddon Hall retirement community in Miami, Florida, shot this picture in Los Angeles for a Marie Claire UK story on Angelenos and their dogs. We found out how she got the final picture.
1. DOT IN THE MIDDLE: Get a Post-it Note, cut a ¼inch square out of the sticky part, and place it in the middle of your DSLR's viewfinder (or put a bigger square on your LCD screen). Now shoot, and make sure that all your action happens outside the blob. Better compositions guaranteed.
IF PAINTER ESSENTIALS can make this nasty-looking piece of pizza appetizing, think what it can do for your images. Corel, the company that brings you the mother of all painting programs, the $350 (street) Painter IX, now has a $99 version for regular people.
READY FOR HD For more than a year, the buzz about Leica has revolved around the 10MP Digital Modul-R camera back for the R8 and R9 cameras. Now, the company’s long-standing relationship with Panasonic has given birth to something else: a new digital compact called the D-LUX 2 ($800 estimated street). It features a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 28-112mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.9 4X zoom lens, along with a 2.5inch, 207,000-pixel screen. Its most interesting feature: the 16:9 aspect ratio of the 8.4MP CCD sensor. That means you can shoot photos that display perfectly on any HDTV. If you prefer, a switch on the side of the lens lets you change aspect ratios to 4:3 or 3:2 with correspondingly lower resolutions of 7 and 6MP. The D-LUX 2 also incorporates Panasonic’s Mega OIS opticalimage stabilization. Note the similarity between this Leica and Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX1 ($600 street). But also note that the DLUX 2 has a 2-year warranty instead of Panasonic’s 1-year, comes with Adobe Elements 3.0 instead of ArcSoft’s software suite, and, of course, is a Leica. (Leica; www. leica-camera.com; 800-222-0118)
WALLET-SIZED VIEWER Still lugging around wallet-sized prints in plastic sleeves that flop down to the floor? Get with the times. Apple’s new iPod Nano not only plays music, but also displays photos on a 1.5-inch screen that’s about the same size as those prints. And the unit itself is only 1.6×3.5×0.3 inches and 1.5 ounces. It comes in 2GB ($200 street) and 4GB ($250 street) versions. Apple says the 4GB unit can store up to 25,000 photos. Now people won’t think you’re weird when you carry around a picture of your Canonet. Well, maybe they will. (Apple; www.apple.com; 800-692-7753)
Nothing says Festivus more than a star filter, such as this Hoya Cross Screen. It turns specular highlights into multi-armed sparkling stars. Plus, it's a fun complementto the regular circular polarizers and UV protectors that most photogs buy for themselves. This one makes four-pointed stars, but you can also get six and eight pointed versions. And remember, you can always rotate the filter in the threads to control the effect. Price: $16.50 and up, depending on the size. (THK Photo Products, Inc.; www.thkphoto. com; 800-421-1141)
THK Photo Products, Inc.
Shooting and printing pictures can be fun. And it’s even better to do something with those prints. But, mounting them or making scrapbooks can get, well, sticky. Krylon’s acid-free, photo-safe EasyTack creates a nonpermanent, slightly sticky coating on the back of your prints, so you can lay them out on mats or scrapbook pages and reposition them as much as you want. Then, when you make up your mind, you can stick them permanently with Krylon’s acidfree, archival-safe, Spray Adhesive. Price: Easy Tack, 10.25-ounce can, $6.50; Spray Adhesive, 11-ounce can, $5. (Krylon; www.krylon.com; 800-457-9566)
THK Photo Products, Inc.
Carrying batteries loose in your camera bag is a bad idea. They can scratch your lenses and LCD screens. Worse, loose batteries can leak. Then there's the annoying issue of distinguishing new cells from those half-used, I-think-these-still-have-juice cells. The solution: a simple battery holder, like this one from Ansmann. Price: $3.50. (HP Marketing; www. hpmarketingcorp.com; 800-735-4373)
THK Photo Products, Inc.
ProJet Royal Satin
Almost everyone who prints photosor has them printed at a store-goes for a glossy finish. But many of us are secretly in love with luster finishes. Adorama’s ProJet Royal Satin and Projet Smooth Silk inkjet papers offer a great alternative to the usual glossy prints. Choose Smooth Silk if you want brighter whites. The Royal Satin, with what Adorama calls a Pearl finish, has a warmer look that’s great for portraits. Price: $11 for 20 8.5×11-inch sheets. (Adorama; www.adorama.com; 800-223-2500)
THK Photo Products, Inc.
Looking for the best way to shoot the Autobahn? Mount a camera on the hood of your car. According to its manufacturer, the Original Sticky Pod will stay stuck even if you drive up to 110 miles per hour. Just to be safe, it’s probably a good idea to tether your camera to something and put a clear protective filter on the front of your lens. Oh, yeah, and avoid shooting at insane speeds. You don’t want to spend Festivus in jail. Price: $79. (Sticky Pod; www.stickypod.com; 866-544-3636)
We know you want a fully loaded, 12-megapixel DSLR this holiday season. But, if your family is anything like the Costanzas (of Seinfeld fame), you can forget about that. Here are a half-dozen items for your shopping listeach priced under $25, plus one crazy splurge at $79.
“Your Best Shot" Entry Rules: To enter, send prints-and only prints-no larger than 9×12 inches to “Your Best Shot,” POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY -AMP;AMP; IMAGING, 1633 Broadway, NY, NY 10019. Do not e-mail photos and do not send electronic files.
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK encompasses nearly 3.4 million acres of airy wilderness furnished with tinted mudstone ridges, windsculpted dunes, winding canyons, lush oases, still pools of water, and vast stretches of sand and gravel. Mild temperatures, clear blue skies, and plenty of shooting opportunities make it an ideal winter destination for photographers.
FINDING COLOR IS NOT A problem in Thailand. Nor is finding exotic settings. Easiest of all, is finding willing models. It’s as simple as lifting your camera. “The people loved having their picture taken,” says Mirjam Evers, who organized this past July’s nineday POP PHOTO Mentor Series workshop to Thailand.
COULD WE BE HEADED NOT only for a greater choice in digital SLRs next year, but also an oversupply? Yes, the seeds were planted last year, when Canon and Nikon benefitted from concentrating most heavily on digital SLRs. They reaped a bountiful harvest, cornering 90 percent of the 1.5 million DSLR camera market in both the top level $3,000-$4,000 sector pro camera and in the even more profitable $1,000 amateur range.
ZITS, DUST, WRINKLES, AND DARK CIRCLES. THESE PLAGUE ANY PHOTOGRAPHER on the quest to make a picture (or, for that matter, a person) more beautiful. Fortunately, with the help of the Healing Brush—one of the most versatile and magical tools in Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements—you can fix them all in little time.
AN IRONY OF THE DIGITAL revolution in photography is that silver-halide film—the trusty imagecapture medium that the upstart technology aims to replace—is simply the best it has ever been. When it’s good, film isn’t just very, very good.
THE PROBLEM The photographer cropped for a better composition, but in upsizing to 8×10 and sharpening in Photoshop LE, the got a bit out of hand—note noise in shadow of wing (inset) and halo along the bird’s back. WHAT NOW? We could have used noise reduction software (like Dfine by nik MultiMedia), then upsized with Genuine Fractals 4.0 by onOne Software.
CANON’S NEW EOS 50 DSLR ($3,300 street, body only) is a study in the yin and yang of camera design. On the one hand, its 12.8MP full-frame CMOS sensor eliminates the 35mm lens factor found on all lower-priced DSLRs and gives it a potential image-quality edge.
YOU’RE FORGIVEN IF YOU MISTOOK the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 ($1,000 street) for a full-bore digital SLR, given the hefty horizontal body, the top bump that looks like pentaprism housing, and that big-mawed Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with its focusing and zoom rings.
THE EQUIVALENT OF A 60MM IN A 35mm system, Pentax's new 40mm f/2.8 DA (digital only; $290 street) belongs to that rare breed of unusually flat lenses commonly called pancakes. One of two made by Pentax, it extends a mere 0.61 inches from the camera body and weighs a feathery 3.2 ounces.
NEITHER A BASIC BROWSER NOR A complex photo editor, ACDSee 8 Photo Manager ($50 download) helps you organize masses of images powerfully and efficiently—and, if you need to, fix them quickly. What a relief not to have to do the scroll-and-wait while your stateof-the-art hard drive is reduced to coughing and spluttering like an overheated toaster oven.
IF YOU MATED A STUDIO STROBE and a portable TTL hot-shoe flash, the result might be something like Quantum’s popular Qflash T4d ($560 street). Batteryor AC-powered, the 26-ounce T4d looks equally at home softboxed on a lightstand for portraits or bolted to a flash bracket for run-and-gun-style event photography.
DIGITAL PROJECTORS, ONCE SOLELY for business use, are now for photographers, too. Take Epson’s PowerLite 755c ($1,700 expected street). With features like 802.11g wireless connectivity, a CompactFlash reader, and automatic keystone control, it makes slide shows easier than ever.
Contact manager Leaking alkaline batteries can leave a residue that corrodes your camera’s electrical contacts until they become nonconducting. Here’s a quick way to revitalize them: First, because “battery acid” isn’t an acid, but a base (they’re called “alkaline” batteries, right?), neutralize the residue with a little mild acid.
HAROLD FEINSTEIN IS ON A roll. In the past five years or so, the Berkshires-based dynamo has produced nearly a half-dozen glorious photo books; breathtaking tributes to the beauty of roses, tulips, shells, and other natural subjects. What accounts for this surge of productivity? Simple.
OUR EDITORS' CRITERION: The camera that best refines or redefines photography
WE THOUGHT WE HAD a winner-the Canon EOS 20D. After all, when the criterion is “the camera that best refines or redefines photography," how could the Camera of the Year title not go to the EOS 20D? This DSLR took the bar set by 2004’s Camera of the Year, the 6.1 MP Nikon D70, and raised it to 8.2MP and a 4.5frame-per-second burst rate, along with nearly pro-caliber construction, all for a street price that now stands at $1,300 (body only).
2005 was the year of the digital SLR. Sure, serious photographers (with serious money) embraced them long ago. But this year DSLRs went mainstream, with sub-$1,000 models selling like crazy to soccer moms and football dads.
BY RIGHTS, THE CAMERAS in this category shouldn't exist by now—yet not only are they alive, they're thriving. These are electronic viewfinder (EVF) cameras, and they present serious competition for digital SLRs—even as DSLR prices continue to drop.
CANON POWERSHOT SD500 $400 street, 7.1MP, 3X zoom (37-111mm equiv.), www.usa.canon.com MY COLORS: Lets you boost individual colors (we did yellow here), lighten or darken skin tones, or emphasize a single color against monochrome. 60-FPS MOVIES: Doubles the normal framing rate, allowing smoother (i.e., less herky-jerky) video of fast-moving action, at 320×240 resolution.
CASIO EXILIM EX-S500
CASIO EXILIM EX-S500 $357 street, 5MP, 3X zoom (38-114mm equiv.), exilim.casio.com BUSINESS CARD/DOCUMENT MODE: Lets you make a close-up with proper exposure/contrast for light-toned originals, then "squares it up" to eliminate keystoning. ANTI-BLUR: Software sharpening done digitally can take out blur caused by either moderate hand shake or subject movement.
FUJIFILM FINEPIX F10
FUJIFILM FINEPIX F10 $320 street, 6.3MP, 3X zoom (36-108mm equiv.), www.fujifilm.com NATURAL LIGHT MODE: Keeps flash off, bumps up the ISO to 1600 as needed, uses noise reduction (with blurring) to keep low-light pictures clean.
HP PHOTOSMART R717
HP PHOTOSMART R717 $270 street, 6.2MP, 3X zoom (39-117mm equiv.), www.hp.com ADAPTIVE LIGHTING: Sort of like incamera Photoshop CS, it opens up shadows in overly contrasty sky/land scenes. REDEYE FIX: Lets you get the red out of a picture you've just shot—or go back and fix it later.
KODAK EASYSHARE V550
KODAK EASYSHARE V550 $355 street, 5MP, 3X zoom (36-108mm equiv.), www.kodak.com SHARE BUTTON: Signature Kodak feature lets you tag pictures when you take them for printing or emailing, saving you several steps when you connect to computer or printer.
KONICA MINOLTA DIMAGE X1
KONICA MINOLTA DIMAGE X1 $400 street, 8MP, 3X zoom (37-111mm equiv.), kmpi.konicaminolta.us ANTI-SHAKE-WITH VIDEO: Several compacts now have optical image stabilization, but it's still a rarity with video. The X1 uses lens-based stabilization, so it can stay live during video capture.
NIKON COOLPIX P1
NIKON COOLPIX P1 $550 street, 8MP, 3.5X zoom (36-126mm equiv.), www.nikonusa.com WI-FI PICTURE TRANSMISSION: Wirelessly transmit pictures to a computer loaded with Nikon software. Fun use: Transmit pictures taken at a party into a slide show running on the computer. Cool! ON-THE-FLY REDEYE REDUCTION: Does exactly that; it delays image processing slightly but works very well.
OLYMPUS STYLUS 800 DIGITAL
OLYMPUS STYLUS 800 DIGITAL $380 street, 8MP, 3X zoom (38-114mm equiv.), www.olympusamerica.com BRIGHT CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY: A bundle of featuresemdash; including automatic brightness boost for the LCD, high ISO sensitivity, and digital anti-blur-that make low-light shooting better and easier.
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-LX1
PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-LX1 $600 street, 8.4MP, 4X zoom (28-112mm equiv.), www.panasonic.com 16:9 ASPECT RATIO CCD: Allows capture in HDTV format, shows full horizontal sweep of the 28mm setting of the zoom. FLIP ANIMATION: Take a series of shots moving the camera slightly from shot to shot (or moving your subject slightly), and the LX1 strings them together into a little flip-book movie.
PENTAX OPTIO 750Z
PENTAX OPTIO 750Z $390 street, 7MP, 5X zoom (37.5-187.5mm equiv.), www.pentaximaging.com 3D MODE: Provides an onscreen guide to shooting two pieces of a stereo pair to be printed on a 4×6 and viewed with an inexpensive stereo viewer-or free-viewed, if you can manage it. SPOTMETER: Genuine narrow-angle spot highlighted on LCD monitor shows exposure settings, EV level.
SAMSUNG DIGIMAX i5
SAMSUNG DIGIMAX i5 $285 street, 5MP, 3X zoom 39-117mm equiv.), www.samsungcamerausa.com HIGHLIGHT MODE: Isolates a sharp subject within a blurred surround. Sort of instant Photoshop. FRAME EFFECTS: Silly fun, and people love it—you can place pictures into a variety of digital frames, in the camera.
SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-T5
SONY CYBER-SHOT DSC-T5 $330 street, 5.1MP, 3X zoom (38-114mm equiv.), www.sonystyle.com MAGNIFYING GLASS MODE: Sets AF and lens to allow close focusing to 1 cm (0.4 inch) in front of the lens—close enough that the view on the LCD is three times life-size.
Chances are you've never used even half the features lurking in the menus of your compact camera. Just what are all those icon-happy modes? Actually, many of them are useful, convenient, or just plain fun. So we've taken a current camera from nearly every major maker and detailed features worth knowing.
Kit lenses vs. pro glass. What's the real difference—besides cost?
TEMPTING, ISN'T IT? YOU'RE at the counter, buying a DSLR, and the salesman asks, "Want the kit? You save a hundred bucks." Just like computer makers bundle software with desktops, camera makers bundle inexpensive zoom lenses with amateur DSLR bodies.
IMAGE QUALITY DEPENDS MOST OF ALL ON A CAMERA'S resolution, color accuracy, and noise levels at various ISO settings. To determine these factors, we photograph and analyze several industry-standard test targets (see photos 1-3), each illuminated by a pair of daylight-balanced Dedolight HMI lights.
"Because you’re heavier," our guide from Exum Mountaineering said as he double-checked my harness. "If the cornice collapses with you on it, we know it’s not safe.” “Oh.” We were perched on the top of a cornice that hung like a frozen wave above Corbett’s Couloir, a steep, narrow snow chute in the Jackson Hole ski area of Wyoming’s Grand Teton Range.
PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE IT pretty easy. When we need to give someone a present and are short on time or stumped on ideas, all we have to do is make up an 8×10 print, put it in a nice frame, and voilà—the perfect gift! Of course, if the photo you’re giving doesn’t appeal to the recipient’s taste, it won’t be such a great gift.
Q Perilous popping In September 2005’s “Tech Support,” you mentioned possible harm to digital camera circuitry when using a Vivitar 285 electronic flash. I have Vivitar 283s that I would like to use with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20. Is their triggering voltage too high for digital cameras?
JUDGING FROM THE LETTERS IN POP PHOTO’S mailbag and e-mail bin, you’d think exposure compensation was rocket science multiplied by brain surgery. Folks, you’re making it way too complicated. Exposure compensation (EC) just means nudging the exposure one way or the other from the meter reading.
JEAN-LOUIS GINIBRE’S LADIES OR GENTLEMEN (Filipacchi, $65) brings together more than 700 images of actors in almost every film that uses a man in women’s clothing as a plot twist, comic device, or storyline. This is no polemic on transvestism—it’s an amusing, dramatic romp through cinematic history.