Perfect Layers – free trial download

onOne Software are announcing that a Public Preview of Perfect Layers is now available to download and try out, free of charge.

Perfect Layers is a standalone application that works on its own allowing you to create and edit layered Photoshop files. If you use Lightroom or Aperture and you’ve ever wanted to or wished you had the ability to create a layered file, then this is definitely for you.

Being able to take two or more files and combining them into a single layered file or taking a single image and duplicating it to create multiple layers and use blending modes to enhance them is very powerful and opens up all kinds of creative things you can do.

onOne have been working closely with Scott Kelby from the National Association of Photoshop Professionals on Perfect Layers to refine the feature set and get great ideas in general on Lightroom users need. Scott has been playing with early development builds of Perfect Layers and he (and the rest of his team including Matt Kloskowski and RC Concepcion) are very excited about the possibilities that Perfect Layers will bring to Lightroom users.

The Perfect Layers Public Preview will expire on June 30th, 2011. The final version, 1.0, will be available for purchase in mid-2011. At that time, Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 owners will receive a free product update that will include Perfect Layers 1.0. Suite owners and anyone interested in Perfect Layers can download the free public preview now.

Fuji use Backlit CMOS in raw G12-beater

The FujiFilm FinePix F550 EXR is the first serious competitor to the Canon G-series for professional backup shooting and travel, with 16 megapixels of back-illuminated (Sony but Fujifilm diagonally aligned matrix?) CMOS and raw shooting along with a massive zoom range, stabilisation, high ISO sensitivity, full HD at 30fps in a user-friendly .MOV format, GPS data recording, and various multishot modes including HDR. It’s also very favourably priced.

The FinePix F550 is available today from leading photographic retailers nationwide, with a list price of £329. Note to readers: our links to B&H lead to far more detailed specifications and feature lists than Fuji’s own press info.

New Backside Illuminated CMOS
Thanks to the hybrid sensor, the FinePix F550 EXR delivers fast, high-quality results in a wide range of lighting conditions. The EXR processing engine uses a combination of a bespoke 16-megapixel Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor (BSI-CMOS) and Fujifilm’s new triple-core EXR processor, to deliver superior results, particularly in low light conditions – plus high-speed shooting facilities and Full HD movie capture. The sensitivity range is from 100-3200 EI, and the filesize options include 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios in three pixel densities.

Users can still select from three different EXR shooting modes, or can allow the FinePix F550 EXR to choose the best option by selecting Auto EXR (it’s an orange setting not green on that dial, too).

  • EXR High Resolution mode utilises the full 16-megapixel resolution of the sensor for high quality results that can be printed out at A3-size, and without the need for any re-sizing by software.
  • EXR Dynamic Range mode employs dual capture-technology to provide a dynamic range of up to 1600% – almost a full stop wider than any other camera. Two images are captured at different exposures and are then merged to produce superb results on high-contrast scenes.
  • EXR Signal to Noise mode utilises Pixel Fusion, pairing pixels to increase sensitivity. Coupled with the BSI sensor technology, this mode delivers superb images in low lighting conditions.

RAW image capture
With the ability to shoot in RAW or JPEG format (or both simultaneously), the F550 EXR has appeal for stock photography, wedding candids and professional backup generally. It remains to be seen whether Alamy puts it on the approved or rejected list – bear in mind the Canon S90 type models are blacklisted when nearly identical G-series models are accepted. Both shoot raw and have similar sensors. Will the Fuji lens be up to the mark?

GPS embedding
Regardless of where you are in the world, the FinePix F550 EXR will recognise your location and display it either as longitude and latitude co-ordinates or by place name – thanks to the camera’s embedded list of locations. A tag is placed on the image which can then be easily searched for, allowing shots of a specific location or point of interest to be found quickly and by name.

Additional functionality is also provided by the Photo Navigation mode, allowing users to find their way back to where a particular photo was taken. The FinePix F550 EXR can store location data every 10 minutes* and, once the images are downloaded to a PC, a map of the route along with the pictures taken along the way can be created using Google Maps.
* Anytime On or Only Power On must be selected for data to be logged.

Keep up with the action
At the full 16-megapixel resolution, the FinePix F550 EXR is capable of delivering up to 8 frames per second for up to 8 frames – and without compromising picture quality (note: some websites state 3 frames and 3 fps). Select the Best Frame Capture mode and the FinePix F550 EXR automatically starts recording images the moment the shutter release is half-pressed and focus locked. Once the picture has been taken, the F550 EXR records the seven frames before or after the shutter was fully released to allow the choice of at least one shot that’s (hopefully, as in our experience both rarely coincide) pin sharp and perfectly framed.

Huge zoom range, tiny camera
Despite having a body that measures only 22.9mm deep, the f/3.5-5.3 zoom lens range extends from a wide-angle setting of 24mm through to 360mm (35mm equivalents) giving users a huge range of shooting options. Image quality and sharpness is also assured thanks to the combination of a high quality Fujinon lens and the new triple core EXR processing engine that automatically reduces colour fringing and boosts corner resolution for uniform image sharpness.

Triple Stabilisation tactics
Using longer focal lengths can cause camera shake, but the FinePix F550 EXR has its bases covered on three fronts. First, the sensor moves to counter any hand movements. Second, sensitivity is boosted using Pixel Fusion to allow faster shutter speeds, and third, users can select Advanced Anti-blur when in EXR Auto mode giving a sequence of four images which are then combined to provide one, shake-free result.

Full HD video
The FinePix F550 EXR records videos in Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second, with stereo sound, and outputs the files in H.264 (MOV) format. Fuji’s EXR Signal to Noise mode is now also available when shooting Full HD videos, using Pixel Fusion Movie technology to fuse pixels together for extra sensitivity, and therefore much crisper low-light videos with lower levels of noise.

The F550 EXR also offers a class-leading selection of high-speed video capture options including a class-leading 320 frames per second capture at 320 x 100 pixels.

Fujifilm also offers a second model, the F500 EXR with a similar specification – excluding the GPS and RAW capture capabilities – and in the same super slim design but in a range of five stylish colours.

The Fujifilm FinePix F550 is available now for £329 in black.
The Fujifilm FinePix F500 is available now in a choice of five colours for £279.

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR key features:
•        All-new 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor
•        15x optical zoom covering 24-360mm (35mm equivalent)
•        3.0 inch rear LCD with 460,000 pixel and new Rich User Interface using Vector fonts and graphics
•        GPS functionality
•        RAW shooting
•        Advanced Anti-blur technologies
•        1600% wide dynamic range
•        Full resolution high speed shooting at 8fps
•        Full HD movie capture (H.264 MOV file format)
•        Advanced 27 scene mode EXR Auto
•        Film simulation modes
•        360° Motion Panorama mode
•        Photobook Assist function

60 millionth Nikon lens made

Nikon celebrates a significant milestone this month, with the production of its 60 millionth NIKKOR interchangeable lens. The landmark figure is the culmination of over 50 years of Nikon’s commitment to supplying professional and amateur photographers alike with the best possible equipment.

Five million lenses have been produced in the last seven months alone, after total production of NIKKOR lenses reached 55 million in August 2010. Since then Continue reading

Canon release new Final Cut Pro converter

Canon today announces the latest update for EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro – the company’s custom-developed software application that provides quicker and easier editing of EOS Movie footage in Apple’s Final Cut Pro software suite.

Launching to coincide with the start of the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro version 1.2 will make the importing of EOS Movie files even easier, allowing users to transfer files from any folder, without needing to mirror the folder structure on the camera itself.

The update also enables smoother importing from Canon’s EOS 7D, EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1D Mark IV models, allowing users to import footage without requiring the THM file generated by the camera.

Originally launched in February 2010, EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro is designed to quickly and seamlessly convert EOS Movie footage from Canon’s leading range of EOS DSLR cameras to Apple’s high-quality ProRes 422 codec. The plug-in allows users to convert footage at approximately twice the speed of Apple’s standard conversion, creating a smoother workflow for the rapidly growing number of videographers shooting HD video content on DSLR cameras.

EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro version 1.2 will be available to download for free from 25th April 2011.

Nikon's Consumer Range expands – D5100 & ME-1

Nikon D5100April 5th sees the announcement of the fourth Nikon “thousand” model, the D5100. Following on from the D7000 and D3100 launches last year – both excellent cameras that introduced new sensors to Nikon’s range and left the D5000 mid-ranger looking a bit orphaned, the D5100 takes the logical step of bringing the larger 16.2Mp sensor from the D7000 into a cheaper, more consumer-oriented camera. Nikon have sensibly retained the swivel screen of the 5000, albeit with a more conventional side-hinged layout rather than the quirky (and tripod-unfriendly) base hinge of the original, and introduced a new body design with a slightly aggressive edge to the top plate. All of this is very predictable – with an older 12Mp sensor the D5000 was looking increasingly uncompetitive (despite the fantastic results it’s capable of delivering) whilst the D3100 introduced 1080p video – 14.2Mp and 1080p in the model below the former consumer video star couldn’t last!

So with the D5100, priced at £669, rising to £779 for lens kits, Nikon have given the sensor of the D7000 and the size and flexibility of the D5000. It makes for a comprehensive lineup. What else has Nikon brought along to the party…

Continue reading