Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome Topaz Webinar Visitors (30% off coupon codes until October 6th included)

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thank you to everyone who attended my Topaz Labs Webinar! Click here to see all of the Topaz Labs products and be sure to visit my discount coupon code page to get a discount on ALL Topaz Labs products.  From now until Monday October 6th, you can also enjoy these limited time special offers:

ronweb5

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code above to get 30% off everything except Impression

ronimpression

CLICK HERE and use the coupon code above to get 25% Impression. If you haven’t seen it already, Impression is an awesome (albeit a little slow at this time) product that can create some stunning artistic effects. While it isn’t for everyone, it’s certain to please those people who are looking for something unique that they haven’t seen from other products before. Here’s literally a one click example from the numerous options available:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

If you like Simplify, you will love Impression!

More about this webinar

This webinar focused mostly on the following products:

Here’s a couple of the images covered by the webinar today:

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Copyright (c) Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Conclusion

My webinar will be archived soon on http://www.youtube.com/topazlabs/ if you want to watch the recording.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order and don’t forget to use my Discount Coupon Code page to save on your purchase.

Other articles you may enjoy

Here’s some of my Topaz Labs software reviews:

Here’s some other articles you might also enjoy:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ask Ron: First Thoughts about the Canon 7D Mark II

Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Canon EOS 7D Mark II

One of my readers asked me for my thoughts on the new Canon 7D Mark II, so here’s what I said…

Due to the wave of new product announcements it may be a while before I get around to reviewing one, but on paper it sounds very exciting. The 7D was a revolutionary body when it was released and for quite some time until the 5D Mark III & 1D X came out, it really had some features (like Zone AF) that I really longed for. Now one thing I hated about the 7D was its very mediocre image quality due to its sensor (shared with the 60D) – it just had too many megapixels for the size of the chip which resulted in more noise, softness and a lack of dynamic range that drove me nuts.

What I see in the new 7D Mark II is a camera that once again brings a lot of great features to the table and thankfully uses the same control layout as the 5D Mark III. I think this is huge because it makes a viable option as a 2nd body for 5D Mark III shooters who can benefit from the reach and performance this body offers, without having the lame design found on the 6D (which lacks the all-important joystick).

Woohoo - it's the 5D Mark III Rear Panel Layout
Woohoo - it's the 5D Mark III Rear Panel Layout

I’m glad to hear about the support for up to ISO 16000, but I’ll need to see it in action before I can really comment on its performance. I’m also glad to hear about the great 10fps burst mode with  dual DIGIC 6 processors and 65pt AF system that can keep up with the action as well as a buffer that can swallow up to 31 RAW files (using UDMA 7) before it chokes. I think these factors make it a much more practical sports camera than the highly anticipated Nikon D750 which appears to be competing more with the 5D Mark III than the 7D Mark II.

The top is just like the 5D Mark III with a more rugged design for the text on the mode dial
The top is just like the 5D Mark III with a more rugged design for the text on the mode dial

One very exciting feature to see built in finally is the intervalometer which avoids the need for the expensive and confusing to use TC-80N3. This will make this a great choice for time lapse photographers, and videographers on a budget are sure to enjoy this camera as well.

Conclusion

Overall I’d have to say that on paper this camera seems to be worth the wait and includes many features people have been longing for. It’s insane in this day and age that there’s a built-in GPS yet Wi-Fi (which is becoming standard on most cameras) is a ridiculously expensive $849 option. While I personally hate using WiFi on the camera, it is an option that people come to expect and desire so I’m perplexed why this camera wouldn’t have it when the 6D has it built in.

It’s a little thing, but I also suspect people will appreciate having the built-in flash as there are times when it comes in handy.

All in all, I think it’s a worthy upgrade for anyone who has an investment in EF-S lenses that they’d like to continue to use. This seems to be the best APS-C camera Canon has ever made, so that’s something for cropped sensor fans to be very excited about.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order today on the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama have it available here and Amazon has it here.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Topaz Presets, New Product & Discount Offer

image Workflow Tips from the Pros on Topaz Adjust

Topaz Labs is now offering FREE new presets and workflow tips for the latest release of Adjust that was recently released. The new version updates the user-interface to keep up with the great changes in the preview system featured in other Topaz products. It feels faster and more robust than its predecessor too!

You can buy Adjust or any Topaz Labs product with my discount coupon code or you try it for free for 30 days.

Click to learn more about Topaz Impression
All New - Topaz Impression

This is a very cool product that can create some amazing effects for your images, but it does require a little patience in this first version. I’m hoping it will get faster, but I’d encourage D810 owners (and others with big megapixel files) to try it out using a small resized image at first (i.e., 800px on the long side). This will allow you to experiment with more things much faster so you can decide how you like it before you apply your concept to a full-resolution image.

To try it out for free for thirty days, click here.

Conclusion

As my Nik Collection by Google has become rather crash prone in Photoshop CC 2014 for Windows (7 64-bit), I’ve started to rely more heavily on the Topaz Complete Collection. If you haven’t tried it out yet, now might be a good time to finally give it a shot.

Where to order

For the month of September you can get Topaz Labs newest product at a 25% discount by using the coupon code SEPIMPRESSION.

Year around you can get a discount on any or all of the Topaz products using the discount found on my discount coupon code page.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on the new Fujifilm X100T, X-T1 Graphite & More announcements

Ok, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of a Fujifilm fan boy because I’ve had quite a bit of enjoyment out of reviewing and owning X-series cameras. As a result, I get excited to hear about what’s new when new models are released. Amidst all the hoopla around the iPhone 6 announcement, I almost missed this one!

Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera
Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera

The Fujifilm X100s is a very good camera that I enjoyed reviewing quite a bit. I was very surprised when I had discovered a new replacement was already being released. The full press release is here, but the highlights are an improved rear LCD & hybrid viewfinder, finer grain control on things like the aperture ring, exposure compensation dial, and up to 7 programmable buttons. While interesting, I’m not seeing anything here that makes this camera worthy of an upgrade so this one will be lower on my review priority list than the new lenses mentioned later.

When I see the back of this camera I get concerned as it appears they’ve decided to standardize on the X-T1 selector buttons that didn’t work very well on the X-T1 unit I reviewed.

X100T Rear View
X100T Rear View
featuring X-T1 selector buttons :(

Here’s the X100s Rear Screen view which shows a smaller screen than the new X100T but a new button layout which means some relearning for loyal X100 users. While I welcome the new display, I much prefer the x100s rear view design. From what I see everything on top and in front of the camera on the X100T improves for the better, so this may not be an issue for some.

X100s Rear View
X100s Rear View

One thing that perplexes me is why can’t Fujifilm just settle on one design? In my opinion, the best rear panel design in the Fujifilm line up is the X-E2, which is why I bought one myself:

X-E2 Rear View
X-E2 Rear View

This was a good design that worked and people liked it. I’m all for innovation and trying new things, but the new body changes seem to be making things worse rather than better.

New X-T1 Graphite Edition – Now Featuring Hard To Read Controls!

Fujifilm X-T1 (Graphite Silver Edition) - Rear View
Fujifilm X-T1 (Graphite Silver Edition) - Rear View

Pay $200 more to have harder to read controls – hum?

I think one of the things that gets people excited about the Fujifilm X series cameras is their cool retro style, and the silver editions are always a big hit. Over time I’ve discovered that the black ones are infinitely more usable in the real world because they resist scratches better and are easier to read in the bright sunlight. However, I’d still call all of the past silver editions as usable. However, I’m really perplexed by the press photo shown above of the rear of the X-T1 because even in the photo the controls are hard to read. Perhaps it is just a bad photograph, but I can certainly imagine that the black on graphite text is going to be a challenge to read in the real world use.

I’m also saddened to see that in designing a new camera body that they didn’t use the opportunity to come up with a better selector button design like they have in the X-E2.

As a camera, the X-T1 is fantastic – one of my favorite Fujifilm’s – but this edition doesn’t inspire much confidence. My advice is to stick with the black X-T1. At the time of this writing it is $200 cheaper and has easier to read controls.

Now for the really fantastic news – finally the ultimate zoom lens for portrait photographers!

Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens

Without question, my most beloved lens for real world shooting is my 70-200mm f/2.8 with image stabilization. As a result, I was thrilled to see Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens which has an 35mm effective focal length of 76 - 213 mm – close enough!

I want this lens big time as it’s the perfect zoom lens for how I enjoy photographing people. Granted, the 56mm f/1.2 I’ve tested has been one of my favorite thus far – it’s tough to live without a zoom in a camera system that is designed to be compact. Of course, some might say that this lens is too big for that reason, but personally I’m glad to see see it added to the line up.

Here’s more info on Fujifilm’s site about this cool new lens.

New 56mm f/1.2R APD – for bokeh junkies who thought the current 56mm f/1.2 wasn’t good enough

Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD Lens
Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R APD Lens

The still fairly new XF 56mm f/1.2 R is a fantastic lens, so I’m perplexed why a company with so many other needs in the lens department would release a new variant so soon. The answer lies in the APD designation which is supposed to offer much better bokeh than what is possible in the regular version – at a $500 premium. I’ll definitely have to test this lens because I was extremely happy with the bokeh of the non APD version that I tested as shown in the photo below, so I can’t see how the new one will really be $500 better.

However, for some more is better, so it’ll fun to be give it a try and see how it goes. However, it would have to be pretty incredible for me to recommend it over the existing 56mm which is a brilliant lens.

Here’s more info on Fujfilm’s site about APD.

For the record, I saw no problems with the bokeh from the original:


The original XF56mm f/1.2R does NOT have APD,
but I thought its bokeh quality was outstanding

(FUJIFILM X-E2, f/1.2 @ 56 mm, 1/300, ISO 400, No Flash – Unedited)

Conclusion

I’ll definitely get the lenses in for review, but I’ll not bother with the hard to read X-T1. The X100T will be in the queue for when I’m done with the lenses, or sooner if I get enough requests.

Share your thoughts – is this great news or would you have rather seen something else by Fujifilm announced?

[NOTE: Comments are not auto approved due to spam bots, so please only submit once and be patient for the comment to appear – sometimes days later. I do read every one!]

Where to order

Click the links above learn more or order from B&H. My friends at Adorama have a cool landing page for all of the new Fujifilm products featured here as well.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Canon Rebates and New Gear Announcements

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Click here to learn more about the new Canon Rebates and the latest hot gear released recently!

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.