Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Perfectly Clear 3.0 Preview & Special Offer

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Click to learn more

If you read my blog over the last year or two, you'd know that I was a fan of Perfectly Clear by Athentech because it really was a one-click photo editing tool. While I loved it for what it was, it did have some weakness which included:

  • a crude UI (especially advanced settings)
  • hard to discover features like Perfect Exposure, Perfect Eyes, etc...
  • face enchantments that would fail or miss people
  • the inability to save your own favorite settings

I'm happy to report that these issues have been addressed and featured in a much improved new user-interface:

Perfectly Clear Version 3 New UI - Click to enlarge

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perfectly Clear Version 3 - Before and After - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Video Demo

Here's a video where I show off the new features editing the images you see in this article...

Special Offers

Get a discount on version 3.0 when you CLICK HERE.

Please note that coupon codes can change so visit my discount coupon code page or contact me if you have any problems with my code.

Conclusion

While I tested with a pre-release version that still needed a few tweaks, I didn't have any crashes or performance problems so I'm pretty happy. All of the things I didn't like about its predecessor have been addressed and my wish list has been answered.

If you like one-click photo editing but want to dial in your own secret sauce, then this is the software you need to get!

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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.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Friday, March 17, 2017

The New Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II on a Rainy Northwest Hike


f/9 @ 45mm for 0.6 sec at ISO 100
Shot with the new Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens

While I own the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II, I've never had the heart to get rid of my oldest and one of my most beloved lenses - the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS. I always loved the extra focal length and image stabilization, so despite having a sharper 2.8 lens, when travelling I've always chosen the 24-105 over the 24-70.

Last year my friend Rick Sammon came to Seattle and I got my first glimpse of images taken with this new lens and I got excited because it appeared to be razor sharp. My cherished lens was definitely my softest lens, so I was way over due for a replacement.

Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II at B&H
Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II

Aside for a slightly different hood and lens cap, it's hard to tell the old lens from the new one apart at first glance. However, you only need to shoot a few handheld shots before you realize that Canon has another winner on its hands. The sharpness is like all of the new Canon L lenses - incredibly sharp - and the image stabilization performed as good as the best I've tested by any manufacturer.

To challenge myself, I decided to take this lens out for a walk on a rainy day in the Northwest without a tripod. I really wanted to see how it would work under tough conditions when mounted to my 1DX Mark II, and Mother Nature decided to toss in plenty of rain to allow me to experience the weather sealing too!

I'm pleased to report, it did great as I never had any leaks and the hood did a great job of keeping the rain off the front lens element.

Real World Shots

All outdoor images featured in this article are 100% unedited and taken from the in-camera JPEG's. Cloudy or Shade white balance was used with the Landscape creative style for most of the shots.

All images are copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may view the images while reading the article, but you may not print, edit, save, display or distribute these images in any way without an ink on paper signed written contract.


f/11 @ 27mm for 0.5 sec at ISO 160
While I did support part of the camera on solid surfaces for shots under 1/10 sec, I still had to hand hold it under conditions that would normally result in a blurry image.

While I naturally would have got better shots with a tripod, I was pleased that I could do long exposure shots of streams and still pull off a reasonably sharp shot. The IS did great and allowed me to pull off impressive hand held shots that were sharper than my tripod shots with my old 24-105.

Click the images to examine full-size originals to see what I mean!


f/4 @ 70mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 500

Auto Focus (AF) accuracy was great and the color and contrast
with this lens/body combo was excellent!


f/4 @ 95mm for 1/50 sec at ISO 640
You have to click and view screen to really appreciate the detail and sharpness of this shot, but at the time I was shooting I was pleased with the minimum focus distance (MFD) as I was closer than what B&H reports for the MFD


f/11 @ 46mm for 1/50 sec at ISO 3200

f/11 handheld in these conditions? That's something I'd normally never do without a tripod, but this lens begged me to say "why not, let's see"


f/6.3 @ 43mm for 1/30 sec at ISO 2500

I was pleased with the sharpness of the ferns while still getting a good look ahead down the trail and the brightness of this lens allowed my 1/30 sec handheld exposure to only need ISO 2500 on this dark dreary day. My previous 24-105 would have definitely need ISO 4000 or greater.


f/5.6 @ 42mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 2500

I found the corner sharpness even at f/5.6 to be consistently good


f/9 @ 56mm for 0.8 sec at ISO 200
By the end of my hike I was using flimsy objects for added support and holding my breath to see if I could pull off a sharp semi-hand held shot, and despite a few failures due to human error I always got at least one sharp one like this


f/5 @ 105mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 20,000
As I was putting my lens away (hence the odd camera settings and framing), I spotted this squirrel and did a quick point and shoot before he ran off. It's fast AF helped me lock on to the eye and get a shot before I was really ready. Since I was in One-Shot mode, I couldn't spray and pray, so I credit this lens for helping me capture this little guy


f/4 @ 24mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 640
24 isn't wide, but it's still wide enough to provide context like in this shot


f/4 @ 105mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 500

While you'll never enjoy the bokeh of a f/2.8, getting close at 105mm and f/4 does help isolate by gives the viewer a sharp and clear subject


f/4 @ 50mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 1000

At the nifty 50 range this lens is outstanding with no obvious real world distortion and crazy sharp - even wide open at f/4

Click here to check out the full gallery of unedited images

Conclusion

No tripods were used in this article and that's the real value this lens offers - especially for travel photographers like me. The fact that I can take this one lens out and get wide shots or long shots and push my shutter speeds down to ridiculous levels and still pull off a shot is a big deal. It keeps me out of the high ISO's for shots of static subjects and it does it with crisp sharpness edge to edge on every shot.

I love this lens and definitely will be upgrading my copy for my next trip to Asia.I highly recommend it for anyone who wants the versatility of this highly useful 24-105mm focal range in a lens that offers incredible sharpness and image stabilization for an incredible value for the quality and performance it offers.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

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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.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Friday, March 10, 2017

Plotagraph Pro Mini-Review & Discount - Animate your still photographs!

Unedited Fujifilm X-E2 Waterfall animated using Plotograph Pro
Unedited image from a Fujifilm X-E2 converted to a GIF after Plotograph Pro edits on waterfall

If you read my Flixel review, you learned how to take a video and convert it into a moving image called a cinemagraph. It's cool, but it assumes you shot video, so what if you had a still photo that was ripe for animation like the waterfall shot above? This is where Plotagraph Pro enters the picture.

How it works

Plotagraph Pro allows you to create a mask of what you would like to animate and set the speed and technique used to make it come to life. While masking is never fun, I found the tools to be easy enough to use and generally speaking you don't have to be incredibly precise when the viewing area is just on computer monitors (even for my 32" 4k display).

Click to see the UI with markup in the water

Using one of your still images, you can use the web or desktop app (which seems to leverage the web app) to mark which portions of your UI you wish to animate. Click on the image above to see what the markup looks like.

From there you can accept the defaults, choose a preset or dial in your own animation values before you click play (or export) to let the magic happen. Here's what that UI looks like:

Animation Properties

Videos

While you can save your animations in a variety of formats, the highest quality is in video so I've created some that you should VIEW AT FULL SCREEN to see how cool these things can be.

Japanese Stream

This animation only took about 5 minutes to create as the masking was pretty easy. The biggest mistake I made the first go around was getting too close to the rocks or the edge of the water. Cleaning up my mistakes after the first animation was easy and I was pleased with the results.

Waterfall

Feeling confident, I tried to do the waterfall using the automated masking tool and this one was completed in less than a minute. I loved the results, so I moved on to something a little harder.

Japanese Lake

This image took a little more time to mask, but only 5 minutes. However, I admit this one could still use some more work. With that said, after a little trial and error I had this one looking like you see here in about 15 minutes - not bad!

Conclusion

In minutes I was able to take two unedited photos (waterfall and lake) and bring them to life - that's pretty cool especially for sharing with your friends. What's more, if you keep the videos small enough then they'll auto play on Instagram or Facebook so you can have high quality video without requiring your viewers to hit play.

While I did this product a disservice by only showing you examples that animate water, I think you can see how easily it can bring your images to life. While I'm not a fan of its subscription model for pricing, I have arranged a discount. You can limit your cost by only signing up for a month, and you can even CLICK HERE for a FREE DEMO if you just want to check it out!

It should also be noted that you can download your videos, images, etc... so YOU CAN KEEP YOUR CONTENT if you cancel your subscription. Yes, you'll lose access to the software to edit your files, but there's no risk to trying it out. Go play with it for a few months on some of your favorite images and see what you think - I think you'll enjoy it! I thought it was a blast to use so I highly recommend it!

Where to Buy? [DISCOUNT OFFER]

Click here learn more using my 10% discount coupon code

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today, and use coupon code RONMART to save 10%!

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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.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

REVIEW: Breakthrough Photography Universal Arca Plate

Breakthrough Photography Universal Arca-Type Quick Release Plate at B&H
Breakthrough Photography Universal Arca-Type Quick Release Plate

When I set out to review the hot new Breakthrough Photography X4 Circular Polarizer that everyone is talking about, I didn't know that the Arca plate even existed. However, the founder of Breakthrough Photography, Graham Clark, tossed one in for me to review.

At first glance I was like "meh, who cares", but I tossed it in my bag and actually forgot about it quickly. Then one day when I was deep in a mountain forest I found myself setting up my tripod and realizing I had forgot my Arca Swiss plate. During my frantic search I only found this 60mm plate that Graham had given me, so out of desperation I had no choice to use it.

I search my pockets for a nickel and my bag for my Swiss Army knife, but I didn't have either of those with me, so I was worried about how I'd get it on camera. I figured I'd just use my fingernail and do the best I can when I flipped it over and got a wonderful surprise:

Hand-Adjustable Stainless Steel Screw - Learn more at B&H
Hand-Adjustable Stainless Steel Screw - Learn more at Amazon

It was a hand adjustable screw that made me shout for joy!

All of the plates I've ever owned haven't had this simple, but brilliant, feature so this was a revelation for me. What's more, the grips allowed me to get a firm grip to my camera where it stayed perfectly snug for the duration of my shooting - with two radically different camera bodies (a Canon 1D X Mark II and a Sony a6500).

In short, it worked well and I'm a big fan. While I still use the larger plates when I'm at home, when I travel this is the only plate I use for my camera bodies (although I still have plates for the tripod collar of my longer lenses).

The high quality of this plate and the handy screw feature makes me wish Breakthrough Photography would make more of these in larger sizes and in l-bracket varieties. If they did, I'd probably bid farewell to my overpriced Really Right Stuff plates and go with this brand moving forward.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this product. At $15 (at the time this was written) it's probably one of the best deals and cheapest plates you can buy - despite outstanding build quality.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

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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.

While I am only loaned most products that I review, I was given this one to keep given its low cost.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Aurora HDR 2017 Tutorial (3 Lessons) & Discount [Apple Mac Only]

Created in Aurora HDR 2017 - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Created in Aurora HDR 2017 - Copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Click to learn more about Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR 2017 Tutorial - Advanced Features


Aurora HDR 2017's improved user interface
Click to learn more about Aurora HDR

While I may not be the most dynamic speaker in the world, I got a lot of emails from readers who loved what they learned in my original Aurora HDR video (found later in this article). As a result, I thought I'd cover some of my favorite new features of Aurora HDR 2017 in this new three lessons video created on October 15, 2016:

The files featured in the video were full size, and unless it was otherwise noted the processing occurs in real-time (first lesson only).

While most people bracket using a small range, for fun this tutorial includes an extreme range of three manual exposures that I blended together in Aurora HDR 2017 (see the video for more details):

Asia 2012-1853-3

I took these very long exposures in the evening in Winter 2012, but no product until now has done them justice in an HDR merge. The results you see in this article were done entirely in Aurora with no additional processing of any kind.

Original Aurora HDR Review & Tutorial

CLICK HERE to see my original review of Aurora HDR, and here's the very popular video on YouTube that even Trey Ratcliff liked:

What's New for 2017

Here's a summary of what's new:

  • Speed Improvements
  • Polarize Tool
  • Batch Processing
  • DNG  File support
  • HDR Noise Reduction
  • Top and Bottom Adjustments
  • Luminosity Masking - see how awesome this is in my new video
  • Radial Masking
  • Advanced Tone Mapping
  • and more

My new video focuses on the speed improvements and luminosity masking, as well as some of my favorite new presets. However, I'll be covering some of these other new features in a future video that is part of my full review.

I love this version way more than its predecessor, which I thought was the best HDR editing software on the market, so that's saying a lot!

Special Offer

Aurora HDR Coupon Code
Click to learn more about Aurora HDR

Click here to learn more, download a free trial or order today.

Stuck in customs also has a special offer here too.and don't forget to check my discount coupon code page for discounts on most products at StuckInCustoms.com.

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.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity