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All posts for the month October, 2012

All-in-One Photo Printers for photographers

There is no shortage of photo capable printers, in fact you can pick up an entry level Epson printer for less than £40 (XP-30). However, having spent your cash on a decent camera and lenses you are probably going to want something that does justice to your camera equipment.

 

Canon, HP, Epson & Kodak

Most of today’s dedicated single function photo printers are now A3 or larger. A big printer may be ideal for digital cameras with 16 to 23 or more megapixels, but the downside is that large format printers take up a lot of desk space and the reality is that many hobbyist and home users probably don’t need to produce large prints on a regular basis. Of course large format printers are capable of printing A4 or 6×4 prints, but unless you intent to produce a lot of small prints then the extra cost of larger capacity ink cartridges may be an overkill, especially if the ink dries up before it is used.

Epson 3880 A2 printer

So if you have a space restriction and want to produce great looking photos then maybe look no further than a Multifunction or All-in-One printer. These printers incorporate a flatbed scanner with sufficient resolution for most scanning and copying work, memory card reader, WiFi and Ethernet, PictBridge, Remote printing, CD/DVD label printing and maybe a FAX capability. These units have become very popular due to their low cost, versatility and capability of producing high quality photographic prints.

In this review we will be looking at photo quality and photo capable multifunction printers that we consider to be worthy of your serious consideration. To clarify the difference between Photo Capable and Photo Quality, Photo Capable printers are usually supplied with four colours; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, referred to as CMYK. Photo Capable printers are great for day to day printing a variety of document types, including; text, newsletters, greeting cards, graphics and photos. Photo Quality printers generally include six or more inks, which include Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Light Cyan, Light Magenta and Black. These are the printers that are going to reproduce the best quality photos. Some of the more advanced single function printers have 8 or more inks which may also include Light Black inks for cast free monochrome printing (B/W). However, regardless of which printer type you want to use, to achieve the best quality photos you need to use premium photo quality media (paper).

Multifunction printers can cost less than £50 or up to £250, obviously higher specified printers are going to cost more and no doubt produce better quality photos.  In this review we will take a look at five printers, from Kodak, Epson, Canon and HP, all our review printers are in the £90 to £250 range.

 

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Just a fun picture today featuring our printer reviews model Sophie. I used the Olympus Tough TG-1 compact camera for this shot. This camera is waterproof up to 30 meters and has produced some remarkable photos. The cameras exposure meter is one of the most accurate that I have ever used, out of 840 pictures only one image was overexposed. The above shot was taken in the fully Auto mode –  f2.8 at 1/1000 sec with the lens set at 4.5mm (25mm equivalent on a 35mm camera)

 

Just returned from a weeks holiday in Cyprus, glorious sunshine, plenty of wine, thousands of photographs and video. This is a shot that I took at the ancient site of Curium.

Nikon D90 with 18-105mm lens set to 70mm. This is a straight shot, i.e. no manipulations other than cropping to 640 x 360.

Tiffen Dfx Video/Film Plug-in – review

Filters are still an essential part of any videographer’s kit, but optical filters can be expensive. Tiffen, a company renowned for making high quality photographic filters, also produces a series of digital filters including the Dfx Video/Film Plug-in that simulates most of their award winning traditional glass filters.  Whilst simple filters can be easily simulated within most video editing applications, the Tiffen plug-in includes numerous special effect filters which would be very hard to replicate. The Dfx Video/Film Plug-in runs as a plug-in in the following applications Adobe After Effects, Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro.

The Tiffen Dfx Video/Film Plug-in comprises of 100 filters with each offering many pre-defined presets, giving you effectively 2000+ filters. The Dfx suite also gives you the ability to customise the filters and save them as your own unique filters, effectively allowing you a limitless collection of unique filters for your production.  The Dfx filter suite is also available for stills photography as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements, Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture or as a Standalone application. The features in each version are more or less the same.

The Tiffen filters in the Premiere Pro Effects panel

Using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, the filters are installed as seven sub folders in the Effects > Video Effects folder. These are; Tiffen Dfx v3 Film lab (9 filters), HFX Diffusion (12 filters), HFX Grads/Tints (15 filters), Image (17 filters), Lens (11 filters), Light (22 filters) and Special effects (14 filters).  Although the Tiffen web site claims 121 filters I could only find 100, although some of the filters do have two or more names e.g. Soft F/X and Warm Soft F/X. However, having said that, most of the filters contain numerous presets, for example the Film Labs contains 37 pre-defined film looks which includes most popular film types from B/W to Kodak Gold and Lomo effects. To add to the versatility, you can create your own custom preset from scratch or alter any of the preset filters’ parameters and save them as a custom filter.

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Printing Masterclass – Getting Started

This is our first video in a new Printing Masterclass series, future episodes will deal with printer types, printer sizes,  inks, media, profiles, custom profiles, banner printing, archiving, limited edition printing etc. In fact if you want us to cover  any aspect of printing then leave your message on the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Printing Masterclass – Getting Started

in association with EPSON UK

Shot taken with Panasonic GH3 camera

Panasonic invited a number of journalists to London Zoo for a hands on preview of the new Panasonic GH3 HDSLR camera. We were each given a pre-production camera and a free reign to go out into the rain to capture some wildlife.

My initial impressions of this 16.5 mp camera is that it oozes quality in both stills and video. My picture of a tropical bird (sorry couldn’t find the birds name) was taken with a Lumix G Vario PZ 45-175mm lens set at 116mm (232mm 35mm equivalent).

Panasonic GH3 with 45-175mm lens set to 175mm

I will publish a video overview later in the day which will include stills and video shot with the camera – impressive stuff. Images have been reduced in size for this item – the camera is a pre-production model.

photograph © Costas

Costas has sent in this picture “Going for a dip” which he took on a recent holiday with the following notes.

The picture is a 4 shot vertical panorama; unplanned and had to be shot quickly to capture my wife and friends who were unaware I was shooting them.

One of the improvements I will be making before I get this printed is to remove the figure in red and blue who is ahead of the tri0

Settings used in Lightroom on individual RAW images, are as below – changes made to one image then the 4 synchronized.

Camera profile correction was set to – Enable. I normally have this off because I like the slight vignette my lenses provide and often add more. For panorama’s its best to get lens imperfections removed before stitching.

Sharpening; amount 25, radius 1.0, detail 25, masking 0/ This was sufficient to provide a small amount of “input sharpening”

Tone curve “Linear” Exposure  -0.25,   whites  +23

White balance in the camera I keep set to “daylight” , The Lightroom setting was “As Shot”

The 4 images were exported from Lightroom as processed TIFFs into Microsoft ICE for stitching. The resulting image was saved as a TIFF

The resulting panorama was then processed in Lightroom with the following settings; White balance set to Temp  -4,  to give a slightly cooler look. Exposure to +0.48, contrast +14, highlights -45, whites +11, blacks +1, Clarity +36, vibrance +28, saturation +19

Tone curve : Medium contrast and no further global sharpening. These settings result in just a small of shadow and highlight clipping.

All the above are global changes, additional work required is to apply local changes as follows. Graduated filter to modify the foreground – not sure what yet ! Local contrast, blurring and sharpening using the adjustment brush to enhance some detail and suppress other detail.

Final version as demonstrated in the video

 

Critique

Thank you Costas for sending this picture in, I have included a very simple video tutorial at the top of this page, showing a few basic corrections.

Photographs can be split into several groups, holiday shots, family & friends shots and creative – experimental shots. I feel that your picture falls into all three groups.

As a holiday shot it works well, it shows the small bay, a great shot of what looks like a nice quite spot. As a family and friends shot, well that doesn’t totally work for me, I would want to see more detail, I would friends or other family members to recognise the people in the picture, they are a bit too distant and with their backs to the camera.

As a creative shot. Well you have pulled the stops out on this one, a panorama comprising of four upright shots which has been well executed and I couldn’t even find the joins. Until I read Costas notes I wasn’t aware that it was a panorama. For those who haven’t shot  a panorama in the upright mode, this offers less distortions as you can use a longer focal length lens, you are also capturing more image detail.  The downside is that you have to capture more images to make up the wide shot. I feel that four shots is perhaps not enough to produce a true panoramic shot, I would normally shoot a minimum of six or eight upright shots to produce a wide shot, of course this would depend on what else is to the left or right of the scene. The panorama effect in this picture is perhaps lost on the viewer, we would expect to see a greater expanse.

There has been a lot of image tweaking and it is showing in the image. Generally you should try to make a scene looks as natural as possible, unless of course you are doing things for effect. This image has a bit too much colour saturation and vibrancy, which could easily be knocked back. The clouds have picked up too much blue and the sea looks postcard blue, although I suspect that perhaps it was this colour. To me the eye is drawn to the blue expanse of the sea and I would have liked a point of interest in this spot, maybe some photoshop magic and put a boat in this spot. I know this is cheating, but if Constable can paint in a few extra trees then I am sure Costa can add a boat or two.

I mention on the video that it is equally important to leave out unnecessary elements in any picture and made some crops. However, since making the video and after some further thoughts, I could have been a bit more severe with my cropping and have come up with the following crop. For me this says enough about the place and yet still retains the mood of a peaceful setting.

Costas photograph final crop version

Let us know your thoughts.

Today’s photo of the day is a London night shot taken by Steve Miller and includes  the following notes.

Another shot taken on my way home from work . I used a Canon 5D   teh fie format was RAW which gives me more control on how the final shot will be rendered and processed in Photoshop 5.

photo-i suggests you take your camera to work!  Send us your shots

Send your shots to digitographer@aol.com. Photographs will be displayed at 640 x 360 landscape format. Give us as much technical information as possible plus any other relevant notes.

Buy one winner, get the other FREE (UK and Eire only!)

FREE 45mm lens when you buy the award winning Olympus OM-D

Advance notice  – Buy an OM-D kit or body between Oct 15th and Dec 31st 2012 and claim a 45mm portrait lens absolutely FREE by redemption.

Both the OM-D and the 45mm were awarded Gear of the Year status at the recent Practical Photography and Digital Photo Awards.

This offer will only be valid for the UK and Eire and only through authorised accounts.

Olympus promotion

Pre-order now to take advantage but do check that your preferred supplier buys from Olympus UK, otherwise the claim may be rejected.

The promotion will go live on Oct 15th with claim forms and full terms and conditions on http://olympusuk.sales-promotions.com/

You will need a valid UK/Eire VAT receipt to claim subject to Terms and Conditions

More details will be available as we get them but for now, talk to your nearest UK and Ireland Olympus Authorised stockist to reserve an OM-D ready for the 15th.