All posts for the month November, 2012

Epson Expression Photo XP – 850 review

Most of today’s dedicated single function photo printers are A3 or larger. A big printer may be the ideal choice for photographers who own a well specified DSLR camera but in reality many hobbyist and home users probably don’t need to produce big prints on a regular basis.

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. Epson introduced their latest All in One printer the XP-850 in October 2012, this is a compact 4 in 1unit which is up to 40% smaller than previous models. So let’s put it to the test


The Epson Expression Photo XP-850 is a well specified compact all-in-one printer which features; six-colour dye based Claria Photo HD inks, a 8.8cm touch screen, flatbed scanner with automatic document feeder for single and double sided scanning, duplex printing, Epson Connect service with remote print driver and scan-to-cloud, automatic Wi-Fi setup and Wi-Fi direct connectivity, dual media trays, memory card reader, rear speciality media feed for heavyweight photo paper, CD and DVD printing, motorised control panel and output tray.

XP-850 installation screens

The unit is very easy to setup, once the inks have been installed and the heads have been primed you can install the printer drivers on your computer. Insert the Driver CD and chose the option you want. I have chosen the first option “Start & Connection”, this leads you into a second screen, from here you can just click on the Install button or select the Install Latest Version. This will take you to the Epson website and download the latest drivers. A series of splash screens are displayed to thank and re-assure you that you have made the right unit choice – we will see! Once completed you are prompted to choose which connection type you want to use, I have chosen the USB wired connection for this review.

Reassurance from Epson

Thank you from Epson for purchasing this printer – children not included

When the driver installation has been completed you can then choose the software that you want to install; Epson Print CD/DVD, Epson Online Guides, Photo Printing Software and Abby FineReader Sprint (OCR software). I have only chosen the first two options as I use Photoshop and PaintShop Pro and have no need for Optical Character Recognition software.

Select connection type and software

For further installation of hardware just watch our overview video for full details (top of the screen). In this review I just want to look at how well everything works, and of course the scan and print quality. So I will jump in straight away with our first test prints.

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Datacolor Spyder Capture Pro – review

Datacolor has been producing colour management tools for as long as I can remember, I have been using Spyder Colorimeters for monitor profiling for several years now. In this review I will be taking a look at the Spyder Capture Pro suite. For the photographer the Datacolor Spyder Capture Pro kit appears to be an ideal solution for creating accurate colours in digital photography workflows, so let’s take a look at each item.

The Spyder Capture Pro suite includes:

  • SpyderLenscal – a camera calibration tool for checking focus accuracy of a camera and lens combination.
  • SpyderChecker – a colour reference chart for calibrating and creating camera profiles.
  • SpyderCube – a quick way to set white balance on RAW files in post production.
  • Spyder 4Elite – a colorimeter for calibrating and creating profiles of a monitor, TV, iPad, iPhone and projector.
  • Screen cleaner, Software CDs and Quick Start guides
  • A rugged aluminium carry case to keep all the above products safe.

The Spyder 4 Elite colorimeter.

Spyder 4

The first step in any colour managed workflow is to ensure that the monitor is displaying accurate colours. The Spyder 4 Elite colorimeter has a seven colour sensor that accurately calibrates and profiles a variety of displays, monitor, TV, iPad, iPhone and projectors. The colorimeter is supplied with a generous 6 foot USB cable – a useful length if you have a floor standing computer. The Spyder Elite software is easy to use, just follow the on-screen instructions and place the colorimeter on screen when prompted to do so. A series of colour patches are displayed on screen and the colorimeter measure the values and compares them to a reference file, when completed a monitor profile is created. This profile is loaded into your graphics card LUT (Look Up Table) when you boot up the computer and will be set as the default monitor profile.  There is also the option to profile a second monitor handy if you work with two screens. I did experiment with the settings on my monitor by throwing out the RGB colours to something that was totally unacceptable and then re-profiled the monitor using the basic settings. The new profile cancelled out all the unacceptable colours and produced a well balanced looking screen. Of course, I don’t recommend that you do this, you should ensure that your display is looking good before you start the profiling, this will ensure that there is plenty of latitude for the software to shift in either direction.

A slight tilt of the screen should ensure the Spyder sits flat on the surface

Monitor profiling is the starting point for a colour managed workflow, after all it is the window by which you will make all your adjustments. One small niggle, when you place the Spyder on a monitor screen the meter does not sit flat on the surface, this means ambient light can enter through the sides, which could influence the accuracy of readings. This is due to the USB cord being at the top of the device, thereby putting a slight pull on the meter, especially if the monitor screen is slightly recessed from the surrounding facia. A better solution would be to have the USB cable at the bottom of the device and a separate weighted cord to hang the colorimeter by. A very simple way to ensure the meter sits flat is to tilt the monitor backwards. We have reviewed the Spyder 4 Elite here. so I will not go into further detail.

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Today’s photo of the day is a shot of an office complex  near Tower Bridge. I have always been fascinated by strong design in architecture  I liked the contrast between the warm  light from one floor yet the others seem so cold an univiting.

The shot was taken with a Nikon J1 camera using the 10 -30mm lens. f4.2 1/30 sec @ 640 ISO.  The camera exposure and other details were set automatically, all I had to do was look for the picture and press the button. Although I do carefully work out exposure and other technical details for most of my work, it is nice to forget about technicalities and just focus on  taking pictures. I love the freedom that compact cameras offer.

Here is another photo taken nearby, the statue of a your girl look on at the Shard. Again taken with the Nikon J1 this time fitted with the 30 – 110mm lens

Girl with Shard

Have you got a photo that you would like us to include in photo of the day? If so send it in.

India in My Eyes


By Barbara Macklowe

 • Published by Papadakis November 2012 • RRP £40.00

‘Flip through its pages. Hold on to a few images. Read her words. And trust me, you will experience India.’ – Pritish Nandy

India is a land rich in contrasts. From its majestic Mughul architecture, epitomised through landmarks such as the Taj Mahal; to the haphazard, urban sprawl of its chaotic cities; the sweltering tropics of its southwest coast; and the arid desert plains and dramatic Himalayan peaks fringing its northern reaches, this great subcontinent has long been a subject of fascination for photographers.

But aside from the everyday images thrust upon us, how many of us have really seen the ‘real’ India? In her new bookIndia in My Eyes, photographer Barbara Macklowe attempts to peer beneath the surface and reveal the country’s human dimension.

Published by Papadakis this November, this photography book provides a stunning portrait of the diversity of people living on the populous subcontinent, including normally inaccessible areas and tribes.

Drawn from her travels across India – most of which time was spent with tribal communities – Macklowe presents a side of it that few of us have witnessed or think of as India.

With a foreword from high profile Indian personality Pritish Nandy, India in My Eyes beautifully captures the poetry and colour of this ancient place, revealing a land of beauty, hardship and joy, which breathes with life and surges with energy.

About the author

Barbara Macklowe was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Ohio State University. She currently lives in New York. She has studied photography in the United States and abroad with some of the greatest photographers living today. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows and can be found in collections worldwide. She also ran a successful family antiques gallery for 40 years


Olympus LS 12 & LS 14 PCM Recorders

Olympus launch LS-12 and LS-14 Linear PCM Recorders


Olympus, the world’s market leader for portable digital voice recorders and professional dictation devices, announces the release of the LS-12 and LS-14 Linear PCM digital handheld audio recorders.

Olympus LS-14 recorder

Successors to the overwhelmingly popular LS-5 and LS-11 PCM recorders, the Olympus LS-12 and LS-14 effortlessly capture and playback pristine, better-than-CD quality sound up to 130dB SPL with new on-board directional stereo microphones and amplifier.

Olympus LS-12 recorder

Ease of use is another key feature of the LS-12 and LS-14 as users can set optimal recording levels on a “Mode Select Dial” located on the face of the recorder rather than having to go through menu settings. There are also functions specifically for musicians, including overdub recording, Metronome and Chromatic Tuner capabilities.

Touch That Dial
While the 1 ¾ inch LCD menu screen is intuitive and easy to follow, recording professional sound is made even easier by the Mode Select Dial and Smart Mode features. The Mode Select Dial, located on the bottom right-hand corner of both recorders, can be set to the following modes: Tuner, Manual, Quick and Smart. Tuner Mode sets the recorder as a Chromatic Tuner for musical instruments. In Manual Mode, experienced users can adjust the recording level manually, adjusting the level while playing music or capturing sound. Smart Mode is ideal for anyone from the novice to the seasoned veteran. It will automatically adjust to the optimum recording level with a single touch of the record button. By entering the loudest sound, Smart mode automatically adjusts to capture the best and professional-quality audio. While in Quick Mode, the user can immediately begin recording without adjusting levels.

Professional Sound
A hallmark of the Olympus LS series has always been superior sound quality, and the LS-12 and LS-14 take that reputation to a new level. The LS-12 features two new internal 90-degree directional stereo condenser microphones with a frequency response of 60Hz to 20 kHz, allowing the user to capture lower-bass frequencies. The LS-14 compliments those directional stereo condenser microphones with a third omni-directional center “TRESMIC,” increasing the frequency response range to 20Hz – 20 kHz. This makes the LS-14 an ideal recorder for an incredibly loud environment. Both recorders support sound pressure levels up to 130 decibels, more than enough to capture extreme sound from a rock band without experiencing clipping issues.

Complimenting the new high-quality stereo microphones is a new amplifier circuitry. The audio and system circuitry are separated on the Olympus LS-12 and LS-14 to minimize sound degradation and keep the signal true. A switchable low-cut filter enables users to eliminate low-frequency sound at two different settings, 100Hz or 300Hz. With this feature, unwanted background noises can be greatly minimized.

A Musician’s Best Friend
Ideal for any musician’s gear bag, the Olympus LS-12 and LS-14 recorders feature overdubbing capabilities, allowing sound recording to take place over the original sound while simultaneously monitoring it through the Playback Synchro Recording feature. Playback speed control can be set anywhere from 50% to 300%, perfect for budding musicians to pick up tracks at their own pace. A Metronome feature allows users to keep flawless time, and the Chromatic Tuner function ensures accurate tuning for each musical instrument selected. Status for the Metronome and Chromatic Tuner are clearly displayed on the LCD menu screen. Metronome tempo is displayed through flashing buttons above the menu.

Specifications and Accessories
Files are recorded in PCM or MP3 modes and saved to the internal memory (2GB for the LS-12 and 4GB for the LS-14) or on SD / SDHC (up to 32GB) cards. The LS-12 and LS-14 operate on two AA alkaline batteries or two AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. The LS-14 recorder boast up to 48 hours of continuous recording while the LS-12 offers an impressive 50 hours. They also include mic, line-in, and ear jacks and a tripod hole on the back for a clip stand. The LS-12 comes in gunmetal grey, while the LS-14 comes in black. The LS-12 and LS-14 are packaged with a USB cable and two AA alkaline batteries. In addition, the LS-14 comes with additional accessories, including a case and our new stand clip, which attaches to the tripod hole by allowing the device to be clipped directly to a microphone stand or displayed on a table reducing surface vibration.

Pricing and Availability
Packed with cutting-edge technology and easy-to-use features, these handheld masterpieces will hit leading music resellers at the recommended price of £139.99 for the LS-12 and £189.99 for the LS-14.

They will also be available directly from Amazon

GMC, Distribution has just announced their latest collection of photographic books, here are some titles which caught my eye. Books are always a great Christmas gift. A full selection of other GMC photography books can be seen here


Shooting high quality movies on a digital SLR camera has become an exciting new genre of photography – and today’s stills cameras have outstanding capabilities when it comes to the moving image. Mastering HD Video is a comprehensive guide to the research, planning and pre-production processes necessary before creating a movie. It asks the fundamental question: “What are you trying to say with the film?” Is it a documentary or a drama, or a professional quality record of a memorable holiday, wedding or other once-in-a-lifetime event? From assembling your team – director, producer, lighting, audio, costume and make-up, actors – to obtaining all the equipment you’ll need, the book gives expert advice on camera settings, shutter speeds, lenses, filters, audio considerations and lighting requirements. 

ISBN: 9781907708626 PB £14.99 Ammonite




Photoshop is an entry into a new world of colour and textures that artists can apply with the touch of a keyboard. Designed as a comprehensive series of in-depth tutorials for painters, photographers and printmakers, Photoshop for Artists demonstrated in detail the complete range of Photoshop techniques that artists can use to produce a wealth of creative imagery. 

ISBN: 9780823006717 PB £22.99






Extraordinary Everyday Photography will help you search beyond the surface to find the unexpected wherever you are, be it a downtown street, a local park, or your own front lawn. Authors Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring encourage amateur photographers to slow down, open their eyes, and respond to what they see to create compelling images that aren’t overworked. Through accessible discussions and exercises, readers learn to use composition, available light, color, and point of view to create stunning photographs in any environment. Inspiring photo examples from the authors, taken with DSLRs, compact digital cameras, and even iPhones, show that it is the photographer’s eye and creative vision–not the gear–that make a great image.

ISBN: 9780817435936 PB £16.99 Amphoto



This latest addition to the acclaimed Digital Photo Art series will bring photographers and mixed-media fine artists alike to a new level of creativity. Theresa Airey introduces a variety of hands-on and software techniques that can transform conventional photos into visually exciting works of art. From processing colour infrared pictures to printing pigment transfers on Washi paper or wooden panels, Airey shows how to create stunning results from photographic images.


ISBN: 9781600596353 HB £19.99 Lark




Beginning photographers and serious amateurs alike– including students, aspiring professionals and the multitude of existing Bryan Peterson fans– will love this pocket guide to on-location tips for composing images with impact. Bestseeling author Bryan Peterson offers a follow-up to his top-selling Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide, this time offering tips, techniques and exercises to help amateurs in the field compose stronger, more compelling photographs.


ISBN: 9780770433079 PB £16.99 Amphoto




Introducing the MAGIC LANTERN GENIE GUIDES®! These all-new books give photographers the high-quality, camera-specific, how-tos they want and need – faster and easier than ever before. Pared down to the essentials, and nicely sized to fit right in the camera bag, Genie Guides cover every vital feature and function required to take great photos NOW! Four years after the release of Nikon’s D700 comes this incredible leap in the D-SLR food chain – and Nikon has bumped up its initial production to meet the huge demand. Nikon authority Simon Stafford cuts through the fluff to help owners master everything from the camera’s whopping 36-megapixel resolution to its superb video/audio capabilities.

ISBN: 9781454704010 PB £12.99 Lark


The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 (34mm*) lens from Olympus makes taking high quality photos a snap. Besides the extremely bright 1:1.8 aperture, this premium Micro Four Thirds-compliant wide-angle lens also impresses due to its unique mechanisms for Snapshot Focusing and Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) autofocusing as well as a special ZERO lens coating for high quality results. It will be available from December 2012, at a price of £449.99. (*35mm equivalent)

The Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 lens possesses outstanding image quality in a lightweight and extremely compact form. Its ultra-bright 1:1.8 large aperture not only facilitates the ability to capture shots with eye-catching depth of field blur, it also enables tripod-free shooting in low light conditions – further accentuated by the in-body image stabilisation of the latest Olympus Micro Four Thirds System cameras. To let users seize the moment and take spontaneous blur-free shots more easily, the new lens features a clever Snapshot Focus mechanism – as in the acclaimed M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm 1:2.0 lens that boasts an equally premium build quality. The focusing point is moved to a specific distance by simply sliding the focus ring towards you. Rotating the ring changes the focal distance within the range shown on the lens cylinder, which also features a depth of field scale. Users additionally benefit from fast and extremely quiet autofocusing thanks to the MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism. Lens flare and ghosting as well as other annoying artefacts have all but been done away too, due to lens surfaces being treated with the special Olympus ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflection Optical) coating.

Optionally available are the stylish, high quality metal lens hood (LH-48B ) and lens cap with an engraved Olympus PEN logo (LC-48B – pictured right). Furthermore it is compatible with the optional Olympus VF-1 optical viewfinder, which delivers excellent clarity and visibility for professional framing, rounds out this exceptional new Micro Four Thirds lens highlight.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 lens will be available in store and online from December 2012 at a recommended price of £449.99

Exposure techniques – Instant Photographer

As with any art form, a thorough understanding of the basics will help you to master your chosen craft. With photography, be it digital or film, we are dependent on light and knowing how to interpret light is key to producing great photographs.

Digital cameras are far more forgiving than traditional film cameras, especially when shooting with RAW file formats, you have a lot of latitude for any error. However, getting the exposure right at the outset will produce higher quality images. Almost all digital cameras are equipped with advanced metering systems, which should ensure 90% of photographs are going to be more than acceptable, but there are going to be shots which rely on your creative interpretation. You will have a choice of aperture and shutter speed to control the exposure, but knowing how to meter the scene will require you to take a reading from the subject. If the subject is dark then the reading will not be the same if the subject is light.

In this first tutorial on EXPOSURE, I will show you the various ways to use the camera to measure light. This video is just an introduction, I will be going into more depth in future tutorials. Please use the Comments box at the bottom of the page to post your questions or visit the photo-i forum and join in with our conversation.


Not all my photography is commissioned, I still enjoy going out with my camera on a fresh morning and see what I can find. This shot taken was taken on Sunday  in my local woods.  I used a Sony EX3 to capture the mood  and the leaves floating down. The footage was shot in Full HD (1920×1080) in progressive mode (25 fps) This is like having a  fast motor drive on a stills camera, albeit only capturing a 2 megapixel file size on each frame. A single frame was pulled out of the 24 second clip using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, I could choose any frame from the 600  shots. The image quality is excellent although not up to a DSLR camera standard, nevertheless I still managed to produce  an A3 print from the file.

Detail at 100% from the above shot


You don’t always have to look for the big picture, often the shot can be right under your feet



Epson Expression XP-30 review

Photo-i has been live for over 10 years now and in this time we have reviewed almost all new printers, although the focus has been mainly on top of the range photo printers. In this review I want to take a look at the capability of an entry level printer the Epson Expression Home XP-30, a printer that only cost’s £39.99.

This the smallest A4 printer that Epson has produced to date, it’s aimed at the home user and student who may be short on space (and cash). The printer uses four individual Claria ink cartridges; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, which are available in Standard or XL sizes. Epson uses images on the cartridge packaging to clearly identify the right ink for each printer model, this ink set uses a photo of a Daisy flower.

The printer has a very small footprint of 390 x 215 x 130mm (Width x Depth x Height) and weight of 2.3kg. But don’t be put off by this small size, Epson have packed some very sophisticated technology into the box including, Epson’s Micro Piezo™ print head which uses 128 nozzles for black and 42 nozzles for each colour with a 3pl droplet size. The printer has a resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi.

The overall construction is perhaps not up to their top of the range models but nevertheless I don’t get the feeling that Epson have made any drastic money saving compromises on the quality of materials used.

Epson XP-30 ready to load inks

The printer has a two section rear gravity feed media holder with a simple grey slider to hold the paper in position. At the front is a two section tray with a folding flap to prevent printed pages from falling on the desk or floor. On the top are two buttons, Power and print cancel. The printer uses a USB connection, (cable not supplied), a mains cable is included together with four inks. And that is it, a simple no fuss printer.


Plug in the power cable and press the Power button, open the cover and the print head cradle moves into position ready for you to install the ink cartridges, remove the yellow tab on each cartridge and fit the inks into the printer.

Four ink cartridges are easy to fit

Next insert the Drivers CD and let the Wizard install the printer. The software connects to the Epson web site and downloads the latest drivers and on-line manual, this process also downloaded the latest firmware which requires you to turn the printer off and on again. The update took approx 2 minutes.  Epson’s Easy Photo Print software is also installed. When prompted, connect a USB cable to the printer and computer and that is it, we are now ready to produce the first print. The installation process took approx ten minutes.

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