As Gary says, his e-books do not replace the camera manual and also don’t replace Camera Controls 101 – he writes for the user who already knows which end of the lens fits a screw filter and which end goes on the camera body. His new NEX-7 book fast-tracks into many key features of the camera before backtracking into depth and detail, a great way to introduce owners to making better use of the advanced functions they have bought.
The only downside to the book is the cover, which features a new addition to the long line of bald heads Gary has used for his cover shots (always in the same style) – a penalty for visiting Gary just before the book was going to e-press!
The $26.45 download (PDF, full colour, with additional resources for Kindle and other bw reader platforms) now strikes me as even better value after the last week of wandering through California by car in search of images. The USA is now fairly expensive compared to much of Europe, not affordable as it used to be – and this comes as a surprise, because things like the camera prices at B&H do not give much clue, they are still generally lower. In California at least things like motels (except the most basic), beer, coffee, snacks, entry or parking fees are maybe 50% more than UK costs – so to all our US readers, be assured, now is a very good time to use your NEX-7 skills and take a trip across the pond. You can find an award-winning b&b with one of the best full breakfasts in Scotland for under $75 (£=$1.60) in our home town with a pretty good photographer running it!
– David Kilpatrick
You can open or download an excellent (slightly dated, unrevised since ACR 6.1 but finally translated into English from the original Italian by Francesco Marzoli) guide to all the deeper functions and tricks of efficient workflow using Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, Lightroom and Photoshop from X-Rite:
This PDF instruction book obviously mentions the use of X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport for calibrating cameras, that’s why they have sponsored the guide. But it goes far beyond this to explain with clarity all the controls of ACR, and many tips are given on how to use them best.
As an example, we didn’t know that Bridge could be forced to use Camera Raw without taking over Photoshop – meaning it can be run separately, allowing you to do other work in Photoshop while ACR does file conversion and saving from within Bridge alone.
You can load this guide into your iPad or other reading device. Just SAVE the target file, and ADD to your iTunes Bookstore Library, it will then be readable. For other devices simply save the PDF and transfer.
The final release of Adobe Camera Raw 6.2, DNG Converter 6.2 and Lightroom 3.2 includes raw conversion support for the Alpha 33 and 55 models as well as the NEX-5 and NEX-3, Alpha 290 and 390 which were included in the Release Candidate versions. These August 30th releases are final version, RC versions are a form of beta test.
The bad news is that anyone using the LR3.2 RC as a temporary free solution for getting full profile correction without investing in Photoshop CS5 will lose their freebie. But Lightroom is eminently affordable, and it can function as a raw conversion front-end for any earlier Photoshop or Elements version. On its own, it is a mere 10MB of program data fatter than Adobe Camera Raw as a plug-in and runs with great efficiency on modestly specified laptops (etc). It’s a lean, keenly priced solution which offers many further benefits as a DAM (Digital Asset Management) library such as keywording, copyright control, metadata editing, version stacking and multiple catalogues.
I am informed that support is included for the 16mm lens on NEX (profile) but I can’t tell whether it is the profile I supplied to Adobe Labs, or a new one, because my profile has remained unchanged on my system – same names, same modification date. And there’s no NEX-3 version which might be expected if they had created new profiles. So it looks as if it could be worth sending profiles into Adobe after creating them.
It’s fantastic news that Adobe has released ACR for the new Alpha 55 16 megapixel sensor before the cameras even hits the street – mine is on order, waiting! Not so great for Nikon users; no D3100 raw conversion in this release. But Canon users get the 60D (despite Adobe missing it out from their front page list). Adobe did this Sony friendly pre-release once before, for the Alpha 100, getting the conversion into place before the camera went on sale.
The bad news is that the Alpha 580 and 560 models are not in the list alongside the fixed mirror pellucid, transflective (anything but Translucent, please…) cameras.
The instruction manual for the Alpha 33 and 55:
is already on-line and shows a March 2010 publication date, which means that Sony has had these new cameras in existence since the beginning of the year, certainly well before PMA when mockups were shown. It’s likely that Adobe’s Thomas Knoll has been using one from the first bug-free pre-production model onwards!
Now all we need is the revised lens series with SAM or SSM motors fitted into the 16-80mm CZ, 16-105mm Sony, 18-200mm and 18-250mm Sony; the 11-18mm wideangle replacement, the 75-300mm SAL replacement, and a few other goodies. Hopefully all Zeiss glass gets SSM where possible. That 16-80mm CZ is four years old now as a design. A tweak to the maximum aperture, or the zoom range, would revive interest.
– David Kilpatrick
The launch of the Alpha 350, with its small 0.74X viewfinder, makes a proper eyepiece magnifier attachment an essential addition to the Sony accessory range. Olympus, Nikon and Pentax all have such magnifiers, which permit a full view of the screen for most wearers and make all the difference to the manual focusing and general comfort in composing shots. We tested two devices, one of them the highly affordable Seagull 1x-2.5x right angle finder, and the other Olympus’s ME-1 1.2X ocular magnifier. Continue reading »