Scott's Thoughts

Lightroom 3 Beta Initial Impressions

I’ve processed a few images now, and I have to say that I’m super impressed with the new beta already. The videos talked about how the core has been re-written for quality and responsiveness, and boy have they delivered. It’s more impressive given that they’ve described this as a rough beta.

I was recently turned on to the DNG profiles and earlier today had switched to using the Camera Standard profile for most images, which I’m finding I prefer. That, combined with the new responsiveness of the slider adjustments in Develop mode, is really making for some real fun when processing images.

The new sharpening is a wonder to behold. I’m finding that it’s able to sharpen more to bring out detail without introducing artifacts and noise. I’m not sure how they did it, but it’s working.

As I said, I’ve only played with a few images (and only ones from the D700) but I can’t rave enough about what I’m seeing so far quality-wise.

Also, I imported a few DNG files that I’d already started processing in Lightroom 2 into a new LR catalog to play with. The new import process is much nicer than the old one, although I’m not sure I’d call it intuitive. I need to play with it more and noodle on what’s not quite right there. Still, it’s an improvement for sure.

Lightroom 3 Beta

Adobe’s released a beta of its upcoming Lightroom 3 been downloading it and have watched the videos (about 45 minutes worth). The beta seems pretty focused on getting feedback on specific new things, most of which are enhancements or re-implementations of existing features, rather than new features. I hope that means that there are still new features in the works, because soft-proofing isn’t mentioned anywhere and I think I’m going cry if LR3 doesn’t have it.

Highlights from what I’ve seen:

  • Completely rebuilt rendering engine.
  • Redone sharpening and noise reduction. I hope these are really improved, because they were a bit weak in LR2, IMO.
  • Publish services allow for managing multiple export types, like to Flickr or to a local folder for iTunes. LR will sync changes made in those sources back to the LR catalog, and also make it easy to re-publish to those sources when changes are made in LR.

It’s just finished downloading, so I’m off to play a bit. I’ll post more later. I’m about half-way through editing my pics from last weekend’s mountain biking trip to Downieville, so I’ll import that project into LR3 and give it a whirl.

Dry Erase Paint

My wife can’t understand why I love the idea of this stuff. I think I’d paint nearly every available surface with it, given the chance. OK, that’s not quite true, but it’s close!

Is B&N’s Nook A Kindle Killer?

David Coursey at PC World gives five reasons he thinks the recently-introduced Nook is a Kindle killer.

Numbers 2 and 3 are the only two that are “killers”, in my opinion.

The color display is elegant looking (we’ll see if it works as well as it looks), and could be a huge differentiator. The “more books” is nice, but I think the PDF functionality is the real win here. Trying one out in a physical store is a nice bonus, but probably not a killer feature.

I’ll be honest: I really want a book reader like Kindle or Nook. I have a ton of technical books, and I’d love to have them, plus the non-photography magazines I subscribe to, on something like them that’s easy to carry to and from work.

I like the Nook, but I really like Amazon as a company, and I’d prefer to reward them for not only being a good company, but having stuck their neck out and making this into a real market. That said, I’m not going to buy inferior hardware, especially at the premium price these are going for. I guess I’m still on the fence.

The possibility of Apple’s tablet being good in an e-reading role adds to the reason to stay on that fence, although I’m having a hard time thinking of a reason I’d want a tablet other than as an e-reader. And so far I think e-ink is the right way to go for that purpose, and no rumors have e-ink on the Apple device. The last thing I’d want is a glossy, backlit screen for a device that I’m supposed to read anywhere. Still, Apple does have a way of designing things I love, so I’d never knock them out of the race completely. And if the tablet has other uses I find compelling, like mobile video watching or something, that could allow for some compromise in the reading experience.

I guess I’ll stay on the fence awhile longer.

(Via Mike.)

Flickr! It’s made of people!

Flickr has added tagging of people in photos as well as a new profile page for members. Looks pretty spiffy.

RIP Dr. No

He was 91.

Timesaving Features in Lightroom 2

I’ve been catching up on some Lightroom tips, since I’ve been processing a few images recently, causing me to spend some time in that app. I really liked a recent episode of “The Complete Picture with Julieanne Kost” called “Timesaving Features in Lightroom 2”. There are some great tips in there. The first couple (changing the hiding behavior of side panels and solo mode) are particularly ones that I’ve found useful.

I think that show in general is good, and would also highly recommend the episode on DNG profiles.

Jason Snell on the New iMac Lineup

Jason Snell on the new iMacs. Gruber wonders about why there’s no new 30" Cinema Display; I’m wondering the same about an update/refresh/whatever for the Apple TV.

(via Daring Fireball.)

The New American Photo

I’ve been a long-time reader of American Photo magazine; I’ve read every issue since its inception. It’s in for a long-overdue makeover. I can’t tell from the cover if I love it yet, but change is welcome and I’m looking forward to the first new issue.

Trans-Americas Airstream Road Trip

These folks did months traveling in an Airstream, and their blog is great. Six weeks is the longest we’ve spent in ours, and it was a great trip (I need to write about that sometime). I haven’t had the chance to read every entry, but the ones I have read have been good. Some of those destinations are amazing, and I’ll definitely check the site out for ideas the next time we’re looking to make a trip in the trailer.

“Just Me And My D700”

Christopher Lane is in a similar situation, equipment-wise, that I am. I love, love, love my D700, but it’s just not practical to carry around. As anyone who reads this knows, I supplemented my Nikon with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1.

I completely understand Lane’s worry about the EVF; there’s no doubt that it is indeed “soulless”. However, in my opinion, it’s the best camera of its kind out there, and it’s one that I’m having fun carrying and shooting with. The lens really does make wonderful pics, and soulless or not, the EVF makes it feel like I’m shooting with a “real” camera instead of a P&S toy. Introduces Same-Day Delivery

I’m a long-time customer, and order almost everything I buy there, largely because of Amazon Prime, where one can pay $79 per year and get free 2-day shipping or next-day shipping for $3.99 per item. Now they’re introducing same-day delivery in certain cities—not mine right now, unfortunately—for $6 per item. I think that’s awesome. I don’t know how many times I’d use it, but it’s certainly nice to know it’ll be available sometime.

IntelliJ IDEA Open Sourced

Great news! IDEA has always been my favorite IDE for Java development, and I’ve always been willing to pay to have it in my toolbox. Now hopefully this open source edition will get it in front of folks for whom the price was too high. I’ll still continue to purchase my licenses, since I want the full monty, but this is a nice development.

The Online Photographer’s Panasonic GF1 Field Report

Good article from TOP. From his conclusion:

Even though I have owned it for only a few weeks, I am serious when I say that as an all-around picture taker, this Panasonic GF1 may be my favorite digital camera ever.

That’s high praise from TOP. Johnston coined the DMD term (Decisive Moment Digital), and says that this is pretty much it, which is what I was hoping when I ordered it. His list of wishes are nice, but my main wish is less noise at high-ISO. If we could improve the quality of the GF1 by one stop, up to the 1600 point, I’d be super happy.

As an aside, I shot a bit with the viewfinder yesterday, and while it has its drawbacks, I like it a lot. It was way too expensive for what it is, but it really enhances the feel of the camera for me, so it’s a keeper. I had Ainsley asleep on my chest last night while I was watching some TV and she had a sweet look on her face, and the GF1 was on the end table near me. I got it, but she was so close to my face that I couldn’t compose and see the LCD. I used the pivot of the EVF to get a 90 degree angle from it and could get it to my eye and shoot sideways and get her face. Hard to describe, but the pivot is already proving useful.

As another somewhat random observation about the GF1, the battery needed recharging last night, which means that it lasted a week of moderate use. That’s pretty good, although nothing compared the G9’s incredible constitution. The G9 often went so long between charges that I’d often lost track of its small battery charger in the meantime. A second battery might be wise for vacations and extended use, but at just over $50, I’ll wait and find a 3rd party battery that’s certified for use on the GF1 (I’ve read reports of some 3rd party batteries that work in other Panasonic cameras not working on the GF1).

Clik Elite Compact Sport and Small Rangefinder Chestpack

I previously mentioned that I wanted to try out both the Clik Elite Compact Sport Backpack and the Small Rangefinder Chestpack. I got both from Amazon today.

The Compact Sport misses the mark for me. I misunderstood the water situation of this pack. Rather than having a reservoir area that spans the length of the pack, it’s only in the upper half or so, really limiting what you can carry. In addition to this, it barely fits my Nikon D700 and 24-70 f/2.8. (I did write Clik Elite ahead of ordering to see if they knew if it would fit prior to ordering. They indicated that they thought it would, but didn’t know for sure. Well, yes, but barely. I really wanted to use it for that camera, and when not carrying the SLR, I wanted to use it in conjunction with the chestpack to carry the smaller camera. The water situation really killed that though.

I’m ordering the next size up—the Medium Nature—but I’m really afraid it’s going to be bigger than I want. Sadly, I think that I really want a slightly larger Compact Sport; I just want this pack with a full-length bladder and I’d be happy. We’ll see.

The chestpack is unfortunately heading back too. First, it’s just a little bigger and more awkward than I thought it would be. The GF1 is the camera I want to carry in it, and it’s just more pack than I need. Not only that, but since I’m not able to use the backpack with it because of the water, it just doesn’t fit in. I’m going to have to look for a smaller pack I can attach to my existing CamelBak instead.

It’s too bad. The packs are well-built and well-thought out, but just don’t fit my intended use. They’re the closest thing yet, but just not quite there.

A couple more notes:

  • These are expensive backpacks. While well-made, there’s no reservoir included, which I think is kind of silly for the price.
  • I hope they get in more retail places. It sucks that I have to order online and return them at my expense to get a look at them.

GF1 Viewfinder is Here

DMW-LVF1 Electronic Viewfinder in Box

It arrived about 30 minutes ago. First Impressions:

  • It is smaller on the camera than I expected, and the size of the view in the finder is also smaller than I expected.
  • The resolution, while kind of low as was widely reported, seems fine to me. The zooming in effect while manually focusing works well in this context—perhaps I even like it better in the finder than on the camera back.
  • The diopter adjustment is great—dialed it in and the finder is tack sharp.
  • Having all of the shooting info that’s normally on the back (histogram, exposure controls, etc.) in the finder is nice.
  • The finder can tilt upwards up to 90 degrees, which is handy.
  • I wish that I could set the finder to have no post-exposure review, but still have it sent to the rear LCD, like a DSLR does.

More soon.’s DMC-GF1 Review has their review of the GF1 up, and it’s as detailed as usual. It did well:

Overall though – and I guess you probably already know this – I really loved the GF1, and will find it very hard to return it when this review is finished, meaning that I may have to wipe the dust and cobwebs off my wallet and actually hand over my own hard earned cash for one. The Olympus E-P1 now has some very, very strong competition in the form of possibly the most engaging and enjoyable camera on the market today. A compromise, for sure, but a surprisingly happy one.


The New Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G ED VRII

Holy crap! Check out the pics with this lens at night! I had a version of this lens, several generations back, and it was a great lens. And that was without VRII (2nd gen Vibration Reduction, IS in Canon lingo) or the Nano-Crystal coating that’s all the rage on Nikon’s new lenses. I have the Nano-Crystal coating on two of my lenses (the sublime 24-70 f/2.8 and the 60mm Micro-Nikkor) and despite the hideous marketing name, it’s a nice addition. Four stops of VR is just to die for, especially on top of the already fast f/2.8 spec.

And can you imagine this lens, with all its VR and wide aperture on the new D3S, topping out at those crazy ISOs? The mind boggles.

The lens I had was big and heavy, and this version is no exception. Of course, with a street prices well north of $2k, your lighter wallet will somewhat make up for that. But look at those pics! Beautiful piece of kit.

Nikon D3S is officially official

Well, the D3S is official, and the rumor sites had it nailed cold as far as the stats go. What caught my eye was at the bottom of the press release:

…including the recently announced new AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR lens…

Say what now!? You release a camera like this and its companion lens is a DX lens? With an f/3.5 maximum aperture!? (Making a DX-specific Micro Nikkor is nice for the DX set, but why at the time of release of this camera?) ARGH!

[Update: Here’s the DPReview hands-on.]

GF1 Viewfinder Shipping!

I just got a surprise shipping confirmation that the DMW-LVF1 electronic viewfinder for the Panasonic GF1 has shipped from Amazon! I say “surprise” because they never even changed the page to reflect when they expected to ship it, and I never got an update via email.

I can’t wait to get it—I love the camera, and really am looking forward to being able to hold it up to my eye like a proper camera.