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Full Frame Mirrorless

Although I have been a longtime user of mirrorless cameras, I’ve been sitting on the fence about moving to a full-frame model. What was holding me back was my reluctance to make a sizable investment for a new set of lenses.


This past February while attending the Wedding & Portrait Professional Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Sony introduced a new camera – the Alpha 7 III. In case you’re curious about it, see my previous article about the WPPI Expo here.

A couple of features of the 24 megapixel A7 III caught my attention. First was the camera’s autofocus system. Using 693 phase detection AF points focusing was fast and accurate. Second the camera’s Eye AF which identifies and tracks the subject’s eye as the focus point. Third was its high continuous shooting speed – up to 10 frames per second. And forth was the comfortably adjustable LCD screen. And I saw that the A7 III had dual SD card slots. I spent about 30 minutes inspecting the camera and bouncing questions off of Sony rep Dave Rhodes. I left the expo with a very positive opinion about Sony’s brand new model.

After returning home from WPPI, I pre-ordered the camera with a 28-70mm lens. Along with it I ordered an accessory that would allow me to use my collection of Canon lenses with this new model. This device is the Metabones Smart Adapter.


Last week Sony released the first batch of A7 IIIs and my order arrives by courier, but due to my workload I wait a few days to open it. When I finally free up some time I find that the package contains the body, lens, USB charging cord, shoulder strap and instruction manual. Strike 1 on Sony. I see that the package does not have a battery charger. Instead I have to use a USB cord to connect to the camera body to charge the battery.

Now I think that I’m ready to take a few shots so I attach the lens, insert the battery and a blank SD card and turn on the camera. Strike 2 on Sony. The battery is not charged so I cannot power on the camera. Disappointed, I unwrap the USB charging cord only to find that there isn’t an A/C adapter for the cord. Strike 3 on Sony. It would be nice for Sony to al least supply an A/C adapter for the USB cord.

After striking out, I have to take a break. I hunt around for an A/C adapter and then proceed to charge the battery (in camera) for a couple of hours. After the battery is charged, I head outdoors to take a few shots.


my first photo with the A7 III

still – landscape

close up autofocus

action autofocus

high speed frame rate

auto white balance

While there isn’t anything remarkable about the photos, I want to see the camera shoot still, close auto focus (branch), action (runner), high frame rate (duck) and auto white balance (indoor).


I’m right-handed. The camera grip feels solid. Overall the body is compact without miniature features. The electronic viewfinder is bright and crisp. The LCD screen is adjustable making it easy to compose your shots whether they are overhead or low to the ground..



convenient and customizable control

the A7 III next to my Canon 6D

I like this camera’s dedicated exposure adjustment dial. A control wheel on the rear and another on the front are useful for changing exposure combinations. There are four buttons that let you customize the settings to your preferences. For those in a hurry to share photos, one of the controls lets you send images to a smartphone by Wi-Fi. And compared to my other full-frame DSLRs, the A7 III is noticeably smaller and lighter.



To be honest, I would not have purchased the A7 III had not the Metabones adapter been available.

This accessory allows me to use my full-frame Canon lenses with Sony full-frame FE-mount bodies including the A7 III. Having read dozens of reviews of the Metabones adapter beforehand, I was convinced that it was the only way for me to afford a new A7 III without having to buy a new set of lenses.


the A7 III, Metabones adapter and a Canon E-mount lens.

the A7 III with the Canon 24-105mm F/4L lens attached.

As part of checking out this new camera, I tested all of the Canon lenses in my collection with the A7 III using the Metabones adapter.

I was pleasantly surprised. The adapter worked with all of my lenses. Additionally the lens information (ID, shutter speed, f-stop, focal length) was transferred to the images’ EXIF data (two lenses were incorrectly identified).

Below are images made using those respective lenses.



135mm F/2L

35mm F/2

75-300 F/4-5.6 @75mm


75-300 F/4-5.6 @300mm

24-105mm F/4L @24mm

24-105mm F/4L @105mm


50mm F/1.4

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @8mm

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @15mm


17-40mm F/4L @17mm

17-40mm F/4L @40mm

85mm F/2


100mm F/2.8 macro

Sigma 20mm F/2

24mm F/3.5L TS-E


100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @100mm

100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @400mm

All of these photos were taken from a distance of about eight feet except for the two 100-400mm photos which were taken from a distance of about 16 feet. In short, the Metabones adapter lets you use Canon EF-lenses on Sony FE-mount bodies.

Sony E-mount lenses (designed for the smaller APS-C size sensor) can be used on the A7 III. My E-mount 18-200mm lens worked perfectly. However using an E-mount lens reduces the image resolution from 4000 x 6000 pixels to 2624 x 3936 pixels.


 
 

One neat feature that I am going to use for portraits is coined Eye AF. Long ago I was taught that for portraits it is important to focus on the subject’s eye. With Eye AF activated, the camera identifies the subject’s eye and makes it the main focusing point even if the subject moves. Eye AF worked well with the several subjects that I photographed.

I should mention that there’s an app on my iPhone that lets me grab images from the A7 III. The app is called PlayMemories Mobile and lets me download the images (JPGs only, not the raw ARWs) from the SD card to my iPhone. Having used the app with other Sony cameras previously, I’ve found it to be easy and very reliable.

I should also mention that PlayMemories Mobile also lets me record location information for the images. Using the smartphone’s GPS capabilities, the app sends the location coordinates via Bluetooth to the camera as it is capturing the images onto the SD card. Again, in my short time using this feature, it worked reliably. Bravo Sony.

I use the classic version of Lightroom to perform most of my image editing. To be exact, I’m now using Lightroom 6.14 but it’s my understanding that Adobe will not be making any further upgrades to this version. Therefore it’s unfortunate that I am unable to edit the raw ARW files with my copy of Lightroom without performing an extra step. Luckily I’ve found a way to fool Lightroom into believing that the camera’s raw ARW files were created with the previous generation Sony A7 II camera. Still this “fix” is an inconvenience before editing with Lightroom.

Despite my initial frustration (lack of a charger, uncharged battery, etc) out of the box, I remain very positive about its impressive features and performance. Having spent a few hours “playing” with this new mirrorless, I’ve used only several of the features that first attracted me to this camera. There are many more that I plan to become familiar with and use. Additionally, there are a large set of features that should be of interest to the movie enthusiasts. Admittedly, I’m not deep into moviemaking so I will cede the reviews on this aspect of the camera to other photographers.

In the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about this new model, Sony has an extensive description of the Alpha 7 III features here.

The suggested retail price of the A7 III is $2000 for the body or $2200 for the body with 28-70mm lens and is now available.
 
 

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 



 
 

Fuji Instax Cameras

29th March 2018

Instant Cameras on the Comeback Trail


When I was growing up, Polaroid instant print cameras were very popular.

After I bought my first SLR, my next purchase was the $19.95 Polaroid Swinger. The size of a small loaf of bread, the Swinger produced small black and white prints (about 2″ x 3″) in a mere 60 seconds. Instead of spending hours in the darkroom to see the results of my picturetaking, the Swinger provided me the instant gratification that today’s digital devices now deliver.

Before I knew it, I had several Polaroids in my stable of cameras including the OneStep as you see on the right. This model popularized the square 3′ x 3″ format prints in both black and white and color.

For many reasons by the start of the year 2000, the Polaroid Corporation was on a downhill slide and its bankruptcy claimed their instant cameras and film as a casualty.


At about this same time, Fuji was developing their Instax line. Fuji has since introduced a series of cameras that are tailored to multiple markets. Various models of the Instax are available in many different sizes and dozens of bright colors as you can see below. They include models for children, teenagers and millenials. I had a chance to see many of these models and displays at this year’s annual Wedding & Portrait Professional International Convention and Expo where I learned about Fuji’s continuing commitment to instant photography.

 

Instax film is available in several different sizes and with colorful borders.

The board on the right shows a set of instant prints that might be displayed for an engagement – in real time.


Instax Square SQ10

 

The Fuji rep showed me one of their new models. It’s called the Instax SQ10 and Fuji dubs this an instant print camera with digital features.

As its name suggests, the prints are about 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ square. The SQ10 has a digital sensor so it can capture images to a microSD card. You can edit and or enhance the images using the builtin LCD monitor. The SQ10 has 10 builtin filters and adjustments for brightness and vignette. Lastly you can immediately print one or more copies.

The SQ10 has a fairly fast f/2.4 aperture with autofocus, a builtin flash, a self-timer and automatic ISO setting from 100 to 1600. The film is packaged for 10 exposures.

The suggested price is about $230 and film about $12 per pack. For more information please visit Instax Square SQ10.


Instax Share SP-3

 

The rep also demonstrated the Share SP-3. This is a small, portable printer that uses the same square film as the SQ10.

It’s aimed at users who want prints of their smartphone photos. To use it you first install the SP-3 app onto your smartphone. The app then establishes an integrated Wi-Fi connection from the SP-3 to the smartphone.

The app offers several ways to customize the prints. There are adjustments for brightness and contrast, color and special effect filters, conversion to black and white and multiple ways to combine two, three, four or nine images on a single print. Additionally the time, date and location can be added to the print.

The SP-3 also lets you print images from a Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Google Photo account so you can share prints with others.

The suggested price of the SP-3 is about $180. It uses the same film as the SQ10 costing about $12 per pack. For more information, please visit Instax Share SP-3.


 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

The Litra Torch

28th March 2018

Tiny LED Lighting


As I was walking through the WPPI Expo, the display to the right caught my attention. And so I stopped to talk to the rep. Here is a small aquarium filled with water. At the bottom are two small cube devices. Both of them were brightly shining to demonstrate that they are waterproof.

The small device is the Litra Torch – a cube about 1-1/2″ in size and weighing a mere 3 ounces. It provides up to 800 Lumens of continuous daylight balanced light but is also adjustable to 450 and 100 Lumens. With it’s 80 degree coverage, it’s usable with most wide angle lenses. The Torch also has a strobe mode – useful for special effects while shooting video.

There are a variety of options for mounting the Litra. The body has two standard 1/4-20 tripod sockets. Its back is magnetic for attaching to a metallic surface.

For close up work, you can attached the diffuser (see below). It includes a mount when used with a GoPro. Rep Andrew Siminoff showed me a GoPro mounted with a pair of Torches that was set up for video recording (see below right).

The Torch is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides about 30 minutes of light at the high 800 Lumens setting.

Litra also has a set of accessories for the Torch including bicycle mounts, head mounts, several handheld mounts, miniature tripod and filters.



 

The Torch is an accessory that you can literally carry around in your pocket to provide a convenient light source. Suggested price is $80 and includes the diffuser, belt clip, GoPro mount, USB charging cable.

For more information please visit Litra.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Sony Alpha 7 III

23rd March 2018

The Newest High Performance Mirrorless


As the cold winter weather wares on me, I look forward to escaping for a few days. My destination is the Wedding & Portrait Professional International Conference and Expo in warm (usually) Las Vegas. There photographers can attend any of several hundred seminars, classes, workshops covering the gamut of the photography world. I especially like the expo where I can seek out the makers of new equipment and accessories. And so for this article, you’ll see that I stopped at Sony to have a look at their upcoming A7 III mirrorless camera.

Sony is the leading maker of mirrorless cameras. Early on I was attracted to Sony’s NEX series owing to their compact size and weight. I now own three of Sony’s mirrorless APS-C sensor models. For the past two years, my walk-around “goto” is the Sony Alpha 6000 with which I’ve taken many tens of thousands of pix.

I’ve been holding off upgrading to a full frame, but Sony has been dangling some impressive features in their newer models. The A7 III is Sony’s latest iteration of full-framers and I had some hands-on at the WPPI Expo.


Pick up the camera and it’s lightweight (compared to full-frame DSLR) but solid. The body is made from a magnesium alloy and is sealed to keep out dirt and moisture. The handgrip is comfortable (I’m right handed) as I tested it with the 24-105mm G lens. I cozied up to the bright, crisp viewfinder. Although I was in a lower light indoor setting, the speed of autofocus seemed to be very snappy. I counted four customizable buttons – a plus for fast working in the field. There are also two convenient dials for changing shutter speed or aperture and a welcomed dedicated dial for exposure adjustment.


Among the A7 III’s impressive features are:

 

  • 24.2 MP full frame sensor with ISO from 100-51200
  • Bright 2.3MP electronic viewfinder
  • Advanced AF with 693 phase detection and 425 contrast points
  • “Eye AF” detects and focuses on subject’s eye
  • continuous shooting up to 10 frames per second
  • in camera 5-axis image stabilization
  • high capacity battery provides 700 shots per charge
  • dual SD card slots supports high speed UHS-II
  • tilting LCD screen with touch-screen capability
  • high resolution 4K HDR video

  •  

    At the WPPI Expo, Sony rep David Rhodes demonstrated a new feature for me. Using your finger tip, you can use the touch screen to instantly change the focus point. The LCD screen also tilts up and down for easier viewing from different angles. While I wasn’t able to try it, the A7 III is capable of shooting 10 frames per second while maintaining autofocus.


    In the past, some critics pointed to the dearth of lenses for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. Sony has been rapidly developing and introducing new lenses and now has a decent stable of prime and zoom lenses – I counted about two dozen lenses.

    Additionally, Sigma recently announced the support the Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. While they are not yet available, Sigma will be producing the following prime lenses for Sony E-mount cameras:

    14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art
    20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art
    85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
    135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art


     

    The A7 III is on target for release about mid-April. The suggested price is $2200 with a 28-70mm lens. For more information and detailed specifications, please visit Sony A7 III.

    For more information about the upcoming Sigma lenses, please visit Sigma.


    After my hands-on test and after talking to the Sony rep David Rhodes, I’ve decided to pre-order the A7 III. The two features that pushed my decision are the speedy and more accurate autofocus, the 10 fps shooting capability and the availability of a larger selection of lenses. I look forward to its arrival – I’m told in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I’ll have a review of the new equipment in the near future.

    Note from April 10, 2018: I just received delivery of the A7 III that I preordered a couple of weeks ago. I hope to have a review shortly.

     
     

    Written by: Arnie Lee
     
     

    WPPI 2018

    05th March 2018

    What’s is WPPI?


    Late last momth, I left the bitter cold and snow of Michigan and trekked to a warmer environment for a couple of days. My destination was the Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo in a warmer Las Vegas.

    Here are some of the photographers lining up to register for WPPI. I was told that attendees numbered about 13,000.


    WPPI is an annual event. The audience is the large set of professional photographers and videographers who earn their living shooting weddings, portraits, school and sporting events. The five day conference consist of classes, seminars, photo walks and live demonstrations taught by celebrated professionals and industry educators covering every imaginable photo topic.

    In addition to the conference, there is a three day long expo at which several hundred manufacturers of photo equipment, accessories, photo finishing services, frames, albums, software and services present their products for attendees.

    The venue for WPPI was the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the south end of the LV Strip


    This year the conference consisted or more than 200 different classes covering a wide gamut of subjects: equipment, lenses, posing, lighting, flash, printmaking, pricing, babies, special effects, drone. The list of instructors are among some of the most well-known and successful photographers: Me Rah Koh, Matt Kloskowski, Denis Regge, Terry White, Bob Davis, Lindsay Adler, Miichele Celentano, Bambi Cantrell, Julieanne Kost, Hanson Fong, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela, Tamara Lackey, and Joe McNally to name a few.


    While I sat in on a few classes, I spent most of my time at the expo.

    Follow me as I take you on a quick walk through of the exhibit hall to show you the types of photographic knowledge that is available at WPPI.


    Special Effects Class

    Lindsay Adler behind the lens


    A Lighting Demo

    Posing Babies


    Jerry Ghionis at the mic

    Portraits Up Close


    Single Flash Demo

    Group Shots


    Hanson Fong Bounce Flash

    …and the result


    During the couple of days that I spent at WPPI, I talked to several exhibitors about their products.

    I’ll have additional articles here describing these products in the next few weeks.

    I hope you’ll be back here soon.

    Fashion



     

     
    Written by: Arnie Lee

     

     

    Weddings, Portraits and More

    11th February 2018

    Upcoming WPPI 2018 Conference & Expo

    Having been part of the software, computer and publishing industries since 1980, I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than I care to count.

    However the thought of another laborious trip out West isn’t going to keep me away from the Wedding & Portrait Photography International event this year. For the past several years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this meeting where 200+ classes are taught by professionals covering a wide range of photography topics including lighting, posing, drone, video, baby/child, sports, school, printing, retouching, marketing and business. Among the instructors are many recognizable names: Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Julieanne Kost, Sue Bryce, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela and Joe McNally who will share their skills with the attendees.

    In addition to the standard classes, there are smaller and more intensive sessions aimed at a limited number of attendees. And for those who’d rather be in a non-classroom setting there are multiple scheduled Photo Walks that provide hands-on learning.

    I’m especially interested in the WPPI Expo. In the large exhibit hall you’ll meet with manufacturers and suppliers of photo equipment, accessories, photofinishing, presentation and framing, software and services. On the expo floor, various manufacturers present live demonstrations of their equipment and techniques. It seems that all of the major brands are on hand to demonstrate their products and answer your questions. I’ve made many purchasing decisions after having met with sales reps at earlier WPPI events..


    This audience is taking in a presentation at the Canon booth

    If you’re anxious to sharpen your photography skills, take a look at the many classes that are offered at the conference. Last year WPPI hosted about 13,000 professional and advanced photographers.

    WPPI will take place February 24 to 28 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. For more information please visit WPPI Conference & Expo.
     
     

    By Arnie Lee
     
     


    I’ve been a tech junkie for a very long time. It seems that whenever new technology appears, I’m fairly quick to try it out.

    Several years ago, I bought a MakerBot 3D printer. Early adopters know that purchasing new technology is usually expensive – this model had a price tag just north of $2000. Using it, I’ve learned the mechanics of how these amazing devices turn long rolls of plastic filament (PLA) into very detailed solid models. The prize is a collection of plastic models that adorn my office and the house. To be honest, I haven’t had a need for additional 3D models, so the MakerBot has been sitting unused for the past few months.

    At this past January’s Consumer Electronics Show I ran across a couple of new 3D printers. And while the technology is no longer new, the prices of several of the printers are now within the grasp of many more consumers. My interest in a second 3D printer was motivated by my curiosity about the quality of the finished models compared to the more expensive MakerBot from a couple of years ago.

    New Matter is a relatively new manufacturer that makes the MOD-t 3D printer. I purchased one directly from New Matter bundled with additional filament and accessories for $350 – a huge price difference vs. the MakerBot from a few years ago.

     


    The MODt is small in size and can easily fit on a desktop. When operating, the continuous movement of the base plate mechanism creates a a noticeable noise. The clear plastic cover keeps the noise level down. 3D models are created by emitting melted plastic filament (PLA) from the heated extruder. The PLA is supplied in long rolls of different colors. A 150-meter length roll of PLA costs about $20.

    Here’s the MODt at work as it lays down a few thin layers of melted PLA. A few minutes later, several more layers have been added revealing more of the model.

    This is the completed 3D model. You can see that the completed project shows a tremendous amount of detail. The patterns for models are available free from many online 3D libraries. This model was available from the New Matter 3D library.

    This model was printed as two separate parts. Afterward, the base and the launcher were combined to turn it into a working catapult. This white model was also printed as two separate parts – the bottom circular plate and the tall intricate vase. Complex models may take a few hours to complete.

     

     
    I’m impressed with the quality of the finished 3D models, especially at the rock-bottom $$300 price. For more information, please visit New Matter.

     

     

    Remote Photography Made Easy

     
    At this year’s Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) trade show I made it a point to watch several live demos of drones. Why, you may ask, are there drones on exhibit at a conference dealing with photography? Well, judging from their impressive video capabilities, drones are frequently used to record weddings. Although it’s been a while since I ended my stint as a wedding photographer, I’m still quite taken by the possibilities and usefulness of drone photography.

    After talking to a few of the drone sales representatives at WPPI, I purchased the Mavic Pro. This compact unit has many impressive features – foldable rotors, interchangeable battery, gimbal mounted 4K video camera, micro SD card to record images, remote controller with multiple flight modes, live streaming to your smart phone.

    Following, I’ll give you a quick look at some of the above-mentioned features that I make this a worthwhile investment for my flying pleasure – and the pleasure of a few of my grandkids.


    When not in use, you can fold the rotor arms. This makes it very easy to carry the Mavic from place to place. On board sensors guide its flight path away from obstacles such as trees or buildings. The Mavic’s battery is rechargeable. Each charge provides about 25 minutes of flight time. Since the battery is also interchangeable, you can carry a spare to extended your flight outings.

    The built-in video camera provides very good quality images owing to the 3-axis gimbal that steadies the movies. Video images are stored on an interchangeable micro-SD card. You can also stream live video to an attached smart-phone.

    You can connect your smart-phone to the remote controller. Use the controller to start and stop video recording, point the camera in a different direction or take still photos. The smart-phone screen displays the live camera imagery. Additionally, the DJI app lets you change drone settings and view vital information and statistics. Users can command the drone to follow and record a specific person or object from up to 4 miles away. Wave at the Mavic to snap a still photo of you on the ground. Or plot a course for the Mavic to fly using multiple waypoints. The controller is very capable.

    Newbies can fly the Mavic using several foolproof ways to avoid crashing. Here’s my grandson taking his first flying lesson using Beginner Mode. You can see that this still photo taken remotely by my grandson demonstrates the high quality of the Mavic’s on-board camera.



    Below is a series of Mavic clips that I’ve combined into a short movie. Note how smooth the video plays due to the steadying effect of the gimbal mounted camera.


     

     



     

     
    The Mavic Pro sells for about $1000. For more information about the Mavic Pro please visit DJI.

     

     



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    Scanning Made Easy with the Epson FF-640

    If you’re old enough to drink (alcohol that is), then you may remember the shoebox in the closet stuffed with family photos. They sit there collecting dust until someone brings up a past event that has you digging through hundreds of prints looking for the time that Uncle John took you fishing and you caught your first keeper.



    Our family has been taking and collecting photographs since the 1920s. As the unofficial designated keeper of the archives, I’ve been slowly scanning these photos with the goal of organizing, documenting and distributing them to the many relatives and friends among our (very large) extended family.


    About the year 2000 I acquired my first flat bed scanner similar to this one.

    Although a flat bed produces good quality digital images, it is slow and laborious to operate. Each photo is carefully placed on the glass top, the cover is closed and then the computer is instructed to start the scan. Owing to my lack of patience, I can scan only a couple of dozen prints using the flat bed at one sitting. Afterwards, I have to take a break. At this pace, it will be a long time to complete my archiving obligation.

    NOTE: The flat bed scanner to the right is a newer advanced model that can produce very high resolution digitized images from your photos. It can also produce digitized images from film negatives (do you remember film?) and transparencies (slides).

    For the many shoeboxes full of old photos that I have to organize, I’ve decided that speed is more important than high resolution. At this year’s WPPI Conference and Expo, I found a solution that is now helping me make progress dealing with the thousands of prints that have been collecting dust in the closet – the Epson FF-640 FastFoto scanner.


    The FF-640 scanner connects to your computer with a USB-cable. The computer here is a MacBook but the scanner is compatible with Windows PCs as well.

    Photos are stacked into the feeder face down. The guides on the feeder are adjustable and accommodate up to twenty or so photos of the same width.

    The Epson software lets you specify the level of resolution – either the lower 300 dpi or the higher 600 dpi. While you can save hard disk space by using the 300dpi setting, I’ve always scanned at the 600 dpi setting since I’m not concerned about conserving hard disk space. You can also select a folder for storing the scanned images.



    The photos are loaded into the feeder face down. The gray guides are adjusted to the width of the photos.

    Here I’ve specified the name of the destination folder for the scanned image.


    You can start scanning your stack of photos by clicking on the FastFoto software start button. Alternatively you can press the blue button on the FF-640. This is another nice feature since you can take as much time to load subsequent groups of photos into the scanner without having to reset the software.

    When you’ve completed scanning one or more stacks of photos, the FastFoto software displays the digital images on screen. The software lets you enhance the brightness and contrast, remove red eye and restore faded colors of the original photo if you’d like to save editing time afterwards.


    My mother often wrote “notes” on the back of the photos. The FastFoto has a built-in feature that lets you scan both sides of the photo so that you can keep the notes with the digitized image.

    This is an example of a scanned image from a photo with a note written on the back.

    The note refers to Steven’s school grade when the photograph was originally taken.


    This is an old photo from the shoebox. The original was quite faded.

    Thanks to the ingenuity of this scanner I can digitally record the imprint on the back of the original. The photo was processed in 1951!


    Here is another old vintage b&w photo.

    Conveniently annotated from 1950.

    Below is a short video of the FF-640 in action. I can scan four or five dozen photographs with the FF-640 in about ten minutes. It’s an amazing time saver.

     


     

     

    The FF-640 sells for about $650 – a considerable investment. However, I’m thoroughly happy with this scanner. It has saved me countless hours of time on my quest to archive the thousands (tens of thousands) of family photographs.

    For more information, please visit Epson.

     

     

     


     

     

    Some Day My Prints Will Come

    For decades I was schooled in conventional (film) photography. So it’s natural that I am a lover of photographic prints. And although I enjoy the convenience and portability of electronic display devices, I simply prefer to view my work on hardcopy prints.

    Last last year, I ordered a large format printer – the Epson P800. Normally it makes prints up to size 17″ x 22″. Add a roll paper feeder and it can produce enormous panoramas up to 129″ wide. Since the printer was in high demand at the time, my waiting time was about a month for delivery.

    When I finally received the printer, I was preoccupied with a lot of other work. To ensure that the printer was working properly I used to make only two or three prints and then set it aside.

    Jump ahead two months and I’m attending the WPPI Conference & Expo. I think to myself that I should learn about printing papers to get the best results from the investment in my Epson P800. And so at WPPI I stop at several makers of fine art papers to get educated.


    Hahnemuhle is a German based company that offers a wide variety of papers. I look at their large catalog and am stumped by some of the terminology. So I start asking questions.

    What is baryta paper? I’m told that it is paper coated with barium sulphate, a substance used on traditional photographic paper. When baryta paper is used for inkjet printing, it supposedly reproduces the effect of silver halide processing.

    Many of the paper descriptions include a gsm value. I find that gsm is an acronym for grams per square meter. Thus a square meter of Canvas Metallic 350 gsm paper is heavier than FineArt Baryta Satin 3500 gsm paper.

    I am also curious about paper with the rag description. I learn that this paper is made from cotton linters or rags and is superior to wood-based paper.


    The helpful representative left me with this sampler – a collection of their fine art photography papers and other helpful literature. For more information please visit Hahnemuhle.

    Namhoon Kim is the Marketing Manager for Durico Media. The company is based in southern California. As you can see from the below photograph, they have a rather large selection of papers.

    I helped myself to about a dozen of their print samples all on different paper stock. I find that the samples are the only way to determine if a paper is suitable for one of my prints. Reading a catalog description does not give me the know-how to select a paper – I require hands-on to feel the surface and a sample photograph to give me the visual feedback.

    For more information, please visit Durico Imaging.


    Epson is probably best known as a manufacturer of printers. They also are a large producer of high quality printing papers.

    My visit to Epson is to find out more about their printing papers and luckily I am handed a “Print Sample Guide” to take with me. It has their complete line of papers with printed samples: photographic, matte, cotton fine art and canvas.

    Before I depart the representative shows me their new software Epson Print Layout. This app is for users of Epson professional printers and provides a convenient and elegant way to organize, set up and print your images. If you’re a user of a high end Epson printer, you can download a copy of the Epson software from here.

    For more information about their papers, please visit Epson.


    Paperwise, I’m 3 for 3. I walked away with samples from three different manufacturers. So with samples in hand, I am prepared to make my paper choices. Now I’m ready to fire up that printer that has been sitting idle waiting for me.

     

     
    Written by: Arnie lee

     

     

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