Thursday, August 18, 2016

ThinkTank Shape Shifter 2016 Edition (Special Offer)


New ThinkTank Shape Shifter backpacks

My friends at Think Tank Photo just released three new versions of its award-winning Shape Shifter backpack Shape Shifter that I first reviewed back in 2011 (video included).

These backpacks essential feature is that you can expand them to hold your gear and then contract them when empty, thus decreasing their profile. 

They come sized for 15” and 17” laptops. 

The new Naked Shape Shifter is an entirely new concept in backpack in that you can configure its interior using your existing Think Tank modular components (review).  This way you can transport your belt system inside the backpack. 

Don’t forget that with my ThinkTank partnership you receive free gear with your orders and free shipping.

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 making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. 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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

REVIEW: Topaz Glow 2 (Discount Offer)

Learn more about Topaz Labs Glow 2

I really enjoyed the first version of Glow, so I'm very excited to announce the release of Glow 2 which is faster and better than its predecessor.

While I recommend that you start by reading my first Glow review, the important thing to know about this product is that you are in control. Simply put, there's no need to use the electrify feature that gives the fake look.

The photo below is a great example of one click edit that helped wipe out the distracting background without adding the electrify effect. I'm in control via the edit feature which allows me to add my own additions and omissions from any template.

Click for a larger view
Click for a larger view to see how effects can be subtle and effective in one click!

Give routine flower shots some new spun - click for a larger image
Of course if you want to go crazy with electrify, you may

Do you have fireworks shots that are just blah? Check out how some tender use of electrify can be pretty cool:

Breathe new life into your fireworks shots - click for a larger image
Click for a larger view to see new blending modes and mask features make it more powerful when used from Lightroom

Improvements

Glow 2 now features the following improvements:

  1. Over 50 New Effects - Glow 2 features over 50 new effects from striking to subtle. You now have over 120 ways to create amazing lighting effects in one click. 
  2. Unlimited Undo/Redo - With the new Glow 2, you can Undo changes or Redo them as many times as you need to. 
  3. Integrated Masking - New integrated masking technology allows you to apply luminous detail to the image exactly where you want with a variety of masking tools including spot, color, luminosity, and brush masking.
  4. Over 20 Blending Modes - Achieve perfect control with 28 blend modes and a precision opacity slider.

Click here to learn more.

Video

Here's a great video that shows off Glow 2 and what's new:


Click to learn more

Where to learn more or order?   (DISCOUNT OFFER)

Get the free trial or buy Topaz Glow 2 now for less than $49 (originally $69.99) with coupon code : GLOW2 (valid until September 3rd, 2016). After that discount runs out, check out my discount coupon page for offers on any Topaz Labs software and other great products.

Other articles you may enjoy

Here’s some of my Topaz Labs software reviews:

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 making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. 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

Thursday, August 11, 2016

REVIEW: Meural Large Digital Frames (DISCOUNT OFFER)–The Perfect Way To Display Your Family Photos

Meural Digital Canvas - Show famous art or your own
Meural Digital Canvas - Show famous art or your own

If you've ever shopped around for digital frames, it's easy to say that you've probably experienced how underwhelming the offerings can be. Generally the digital frames are small, with horrible resolution displays and they usually only allow you to upload your photos via USB or some very bad software.

Wouldn't it be great if you could upload your photos to a digital frame that was housed in a wooden frame with a matte that was suitable for display in a fine home, art gallery or luxury hotel?

Wouldn't it be great if you could not only upload your photos from your computer and have them automatically downloaded to your frame from anywhere in the world with an internet connection?

Wouldn't it be cool if you didn't see the same photos all day long, but could also see the work of others fine art paintings and photos?

Most digital frames suck, does this one?

When the folks from Meural contacted me about reviewing a frame that could do all of this, I was highly suspicious that the quality and user experience would be terrible. I'm a NEC Color Visionary and X-Rite Coloratti Pro with a history of working with display manufacturers. I’ve attended display technology conferences, so I know what good quality displays and accurate color look like.  As a result, I'm used to being underwhelmed and very disappointed by bargain displays that look terrible to my eyes.

I'm happy to report that when my frame arrived I was very pleased and my "geek with a new toy" smile hasn't left my face since it's arrival.

For starters they did a fantastic matte finish that avoids reflections without destroying image quality. They also did a good job of calibrating the color from the factor, so the images on the frame were on par with my calibrated NEC PA Series displays.

What I wasn't expecting is that the wood and matte that surrounds the frame is very well done and feels like something I'd get from a high end framing studio. I've spent $450+ on custom frames of this size, and while I wouldn't say that this frame is as good as some of the ones I've purchased - it's very close. Keep in mind though that those were traditional frames that just housed and protected one photo. This is a digital frame that looks great on the wall, even when it is off, and even better when it is displaying lots of my images and fine art.

Using my Meural Canvas

Canvas List
The Canvas List displays all of the canvases that you've registered

I've been using my frame for a couple weeks, and even though I typically wait longer to do a review - I love this product so much I felt compelled to write my review right away. Part of the reason for this is that it not only performed beautifully displaying my images and the art of others, it did so with zero noise and no noticeable heat. This is a HUGE advantage over using a smart TV or building your own PC to display images - both of which I've already done before myself.

Canvas Settings

When I first got my canvas and started using it, I was disappointed that the phone app and gesture based UI had no mechanism for editing important settings like slide duration and off hours. Fortunately all of these settings are easily accessible via the web site and included even more than I could imagine. Rather than spend a lot of time talking about them, here's a screen shot of the behind the scenes controls I have over my canvas:

Canvas Settings
Canvas Settings
Some images featured here are copyright their respective owners and used under license

In addition to being able to specify exactly what art collections are stored on my canvas, I can control when they are displayed as well as when the frame sleeps thanks to the handy timeline feature. If you’ve ever used other frames or tried to build your own, this is the key thing that the others fail to offer. This is the game changer feature that really sets this frame apart!

My family really loved how we could enjoy our family photos during meal times but then enjoy other art during the day so we didn't get bored seeing the same photos all day long.

Video Demo

While recording a video of any video display is the best way to make a display look terrible, I decided it was important to show off some of the features of this frame. Please know that the image quality of this display is outstanding in real life – much like a high quality computer monitor, so don’t be misled by the video quality.

I also show the iOS and web apps that complement this device. It should be noted that while I demo the iOS app, there is also an Android version too.

Technical Specs

If you are a geek like me then you want more technical details about the display specs and the hardware, so I've created this link  for you to get that info including a video that shows how they are built.It's fun to watch so check it out!

The highlights are the 27” 1080p IPS Display with Anti-Glare Technology, 1920 x 1080 Full HD Resolution and 8GB of storage.

Conclusion

Yes, you can use your Smart TV (or device connected to your TV), your iPad, an old computer or a new fanless PC to have your own digital slideshow solution. What makes this product unique is that you get a fine art quality frame that just works without any heat or noise issues, and great software and stock that keeps things interesting.

It's nicely designed UI makes it simple to see the photos you want when you want them - including art made by others. The simplicity and quality of this all-in-one solution is what makes it unique. The performance of the 27" 16:19 aspect ratio calibrated color display is what makes it feel like a 23x13" print hanging on the wall.

I expected to be underwhelmed, but I can't say enough about how much I love this frame. In fact, now that I have one I seriously want another one so I can dedicate one to landscape photos and another to portrait photos elsewhere in my house. I want one for my elderly parents house  too- that's how much I love this product!

If you've been underwhelmed or disappointed by digital frame offerings in the past, I'm pleased to say that the time has come to finally get one. This is the one I've been waiting for! Even if you don't own a camera - it's useful at displaying lots of great (and currently free) stock art available on the Meural web site, as well as digital art you purchase off  the web.

Verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Where to order (SPECIAL OFFER)

I love to take care of my faithful blog readers, so I've arranged a special offer for you when you CLICK HERE and use my coupon code RONMARTBLOG

Discount Coupon Code Usage
Please note that prices and the code are subject to change

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. I was also provided with a review version of this product.

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!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. 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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Macphun Unveils Sneak Peek of Aurora HDR 2017 New Features

Click to learn more about Aurora 2017

My favorite HDR Editing software is going to be getting better this September. Macphun has let me know that Aurora 2017 will come with over 20 key improvements and new features including these: 

  • New Batch Processing
  • New Tools, including polarize filter and radial masking tool
  • New presets by Trey Ratcliff and other recognized pros
  • Reworked tone-mapping and bracket merging technology for more realistic looking HDR images

More details will be released soon, so please sign up for the Aurora 2017 newsletter to learn more.

Availability:

Aurora 2017 will be available for pre-order September 15th and will officially launch September 29th.

Upgrades and Pricing

  • Current users of Aurora HDR Pro can upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017 at a special pre-order price of $49
  • Current users of the standard version of Aurora HDR can upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017 at a special pre-order upgrade price of $69
  • New customers can pre-order Aurora HDR 2017 for $89

Pre-order to receive special bonuses that will be announced soon.

Ron’s Aurora Review & Tutorial

I’m no Trey Ratcliff, but I give you my 2 cents in this 30 minute tutorial where I demonstrate how I use the first version of Aurora and my thoughts about it:

The cool thing about this video is that there’s no smoke and mirrors and it’s done on a 2010 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and 512KB video, but it performs very well.

Where to learn more or order?

CLICK HERE to learn more about Aurora HDR 2017 and this special offer.

Want to know more about this product? Check out my full review and video tutorial.

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 making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. 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

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mindshift Gear Panorama Backpack, Filter Hive & Ultralight Camera Cover (Corrected 8/2/16)


MindShift Gear Rotation180° Panorama Backpack

MindShift Gear has a cool rotating day hike backpack called the lightweight rotation180 ° Panorama that is available for order here.  Designed for those who want quick access outdoors to their cameras, binoculars, GPS devices, nature identification books, maps, iPads, and more, the rotation180° Panorama’s belt pack rotates to the front for quick gear access and without first having to take off the backpack or even stop hiking.   Its upper compartment has room for a 3 liter hydration bladder, jackets, food, and the like.

In addition, MindShift has some great accessories for outdoor photographers:

  • The Filter Hive (review) is the first case designed for quick access to round, square, and rectangular camera lens filtersThe Filter Hive solves organizational and functional problems of conservation, landscape, outdoor action, and wildlife photographers who need quick access to filters of different shapes.  The filter case resembles a bee hive with padded, felt-lined slots that protect delicate glass and resin filters.
  • The UltraLight Camera Cover is the lightest, most compact camera cover for outdoor photographyAvailable in three sizes, this “skin-style” camera pouch/cover is designed for outdoor, nature, and action photographers who wear a normal or pro DSLR camera with small to medium lens out on their chest, ready to shoot. Its adjustable shock-cord on lid allows the cover to fit multiple camera and lens combinations. 

All products are available and ready for shipment today!

Compared to the Rotation 180

Front View - Panorama (left) Original Rotation 180 (right)

Side View - Panorama (left) Original Rotation 180 (right)

Back View - Panorama (left) Original Rotation 180 (right)

Video Walkthrough

Here’s a quick overview of this bag as it arrived. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do another review later after I’ve had some time to use it and that will feature camera gear.

Conclusion

I got one of these bags to review and it’s a pretty cool bag. I like the size much better than the original back because this seems better suited for the day hike whereas the original is more for the long and/or overnight hike. Both are extremely well made and very light, so I think people who try these bags out are really going to love them! It's also a big plus for outdoor adventures who need a lightweight bag for their gear but also one that can carry their hydration bladders.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order at the MindShift Gear web site.

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. I was provided with a review version of this bag.

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!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded. Residents from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming (and where prohibited by law) may be prohibited from using the links to make purchases, so please consider making a donation instead. 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