How to Improve Lightroom 4 Performance Problems

When I installed Lightroom V4 I noticed a big performance hit in the Develop Module.  When I would move the Exposure slider I would see a second or  two delay before the change was visible on the screen.  I also noticed that the Spot Removal brush would take two or three seconds before I would see the results.  In Lightroom Version 3 I had none of these problems.

Lightroom V4.1 improved the performance a little bit, but still didn't get it  back to the level of Version 3.

THE SOLUTION: Turn OFF (set to zero) the Luminance Noise Reduction in the Detail tab. When you are done with your editing for ALL your images just change the Luminance setting to your preference and sync it to all the other photos.  

THE OTHER SOLUTION: Set the Process Version to 2010 under the Camera Calibration tab, but the problem with this is that you no longer get the benefits of the 2012 Process Version.  

FYI: I have an eight processor, 2007 vintage Mac Pro with 11GB of Ram.

PocketWizard TT5 Problems with Nikon D4

I was trying to use the PocketWizard TT5 with the Nikon D4 with my Paul Buff Einstein Strobes and the PowerMC2 and I noticed a slight delay when I hit the shutter release button.  It was about a one second delay.  I changed up to my Nikon D3S and I had no such problem.  I have sent an email to PocketWizard to see if they know of this problem and see if there is  a fix on the way.

Here is their response:  (net ... net ... it will be a couple months ... July 2012 or so).

Thank you for your inquiry about the D4.  There is a lot of new and exciting equipment hitting the market from both Canon and Nikon and we know many of you are hoping to use them with your PocketWizard ControlTL radios as soon as you can.  Like you, we’ve been waiting patiently for them to show up (yes, we have to wait for them just like everyone else).

Once they arrive, we start the process to make our system compatible with the new gear.  This requires reverse engineering the signals coming up through the hot shoe of the radio, followed by lots of compatibility testing.  This is a complex process that can take a fair amount of time and testing depending on how different the new equipment operates compared to earlier models.

Adding compatibility requires a new version of the ControlTL firmware.  We are trying to include the D4 compatibility in a future firmware update.  With so much new equipment coming out, this may take a couple months and require a few revisions of firmware. Each revision will be released as a beta version that is available to the public first. 

We will announce the availability of beta versions and official firmware releases via our Facebook page and

Twitter feed as well as on PocketWizard.com.  You may also find some feedback from other photographers who have experimented with the equipment, as many have posted their results.

 Here is the link to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pocketwizards

and our Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/#!/PocketWizard

 

Upgrade Mac Pro with More Memory, Graphics Card, and SSD

I bought the original Intel based Mac Pro back in January of 2007.  It had two dual-core Xeon 2.66 Ghz processors (four processors total).  I think it came with 3GB of memory and I added an additional 4GBs for a total of 7GB.  About a year ago I added the ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card to my system. The Geekbench scores for this system were around 5000, respectable, but many of the iMac and MacBook Pros that are being sold have Geekbench scores over 10,000.

I am a photographer so most of my heavy lifting is done with tools like Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and Photoshop CS5.  I use CS5 plugins like Nik Color Efex Pro and Portrait Professional.  Most of these tools take advantage of the GPU so the ATI Radeon HD 4870 gave me a good boost.  But there were times with Aperture, exporting from Lightroom, and running some of the CS5 plugins that my system got a little sluggish.

So last summer I had to decide to buy a new Mac or upgrade my 2006 Mac Pro.  The future for Macs is definitely going towards buying high powered laptops with an SSD (solid state drive) and using Thunderbolt devices for access to your high speed drives and monitor.  The problem in the summer of 2011 was that there were few Thunderbolt peripherals available, and you knew that the current, heavy MacBook Pros were going to go the way of the MacBook Airs.  I really use the internal drives of my Mac Pro and didn't want to give them up, and someday Thunderbolt drives will be my answer.  So I looked into the current Mac Pros, they are fast, but they currently don't support Thunderbolt.

Given that we are in a period of transition with Apple Mac products, I decided to extend the life of my current 2006 vintage Mac Pro.

I replaced my original 256GB main hard drive with an 256GB SSD (Crucial Technology $372).  I added 4GB ($108) to my memory taking me up to 11GB.  And I swapped my two dual-core Xeon processors  for two quad-core Xeon processors ($200 on ebay), giving me an eight core machine.

 

My Geekbench score  went from 5000 to over 10,000.   I spent $680 and I got a machine that was current in terms of performance vs. spending what would have been over $3,000 to get a new Mac with an SSD card and 11GB of memory.  The new machines have faster cores, so applications that only run on a single core aren't as fast on my machine as they would be on a new Sandy Bridge Intel CPU.  But for most things my performance is much better.

After I did this upgrade and things were working well, I got greedy.  I decided to add a USB 3.0 card to my Mac Pro last November.  The only card I could find that claimed to work on a Mac Pro the was CalDigit SuperSpeed PCI Express Card.  My system has crashed more times in the last two months than in the prior five years.  I suspected the CalDigit card, so I removed it two weeks ago.  Guess what ... no crashes since.  You have to install a USB 3.0 driver from CalDigit to make this card work because the operating system, Mac OS X Lion, doesn't support USB 3.0.  It seems to be that this driver doesn't play well and causes the system to crash.

CONCLUSION:  For $680 I have extended the life of my Mac Pro for probably at least two years ... well worth the money.

FUJI X100 Review

I have had the Fuji X100 for about a month.  After reading about the image quality of this nostalgic looking camera, I had to see for myself if it was as good as advertised.  

The image quality is excellent, comparable to my Nikon D3S.  For doing street photography of static subjects the camera works great and is sufficiently responsive.  The X100 can sync a flash at 1/2000 of a second.  This is great when doing flash photography outside in bright sunlight.

Unfortunately, I have found a lot about this camera that make it difficult to use in many situations.  Here is my list of gripes:

  • I like to pick my focus point on my Nikon DSLR bodies.  I don't like to focus and recompose with the center focus point because that slight amount of movement can make a sharp eyelash a bit soft.  Selecting a new focus point on the X100 is very cumbersome, especially if you are using the optical viewfinder because the button you have to push to turn on the focus point selection is right next to your eye and hard to reach when looking through the viewfinder.
  • Manual focusing is useless.  It takes so many turns of the lens ring to move the focus that it becomes very tiresome.
  • The X100 has a macro capability but you have to push a button on the back of the camera and then toggle to macro mode to focus on subjects within two feet or so.  Why not just automatically switch to macro mode when the camera sees that you are trying to focus on something close by.  
  • There is a Command Button on the upper right side of the back of the camera.  The button is totally underutilized.  Why not push that button to go right into playback mode?
  • I shoot in RAW mode and it takes quite a long time to write to the SD card.  
  • The camera has a fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivelant).  There are times I wish the lens was a bit wider and a bit longer.  You can't complain about the lens quality, but when you just want to take one camera, having a fixed length lens can be limiting. 
  • All of the above problems make it very difficult to use this camera if you are trying to capture the moment. 
  • Video focusing is hit or miss.  The focus just seemed to wander everywhere.

Conclusion ... the image quality of a camera of this size is the best on the market and is the ONLY reason why I may keep the FUJI X100.  Fuji could do some things in micro code to fix many of the usability problems. They just came out with an update and made a few things better, but they still have a ways to go to where this camera is responsive enough to use to capture those priceless moments that will be lost while you are fiddling with the X100's controls.

 

I sold my Nikon D7000 DSLR

I bought a Nikon D7000 DSLR Camera back in November.  I was hoping to use it for video, some home family photography, and also for some professional shoots when I wanted a lighter, smaller camera.

- I found the video capability hard to use.  The shallow DOF looks great, but it also makes it very hard to keep in focus when your subjects or you are moving.  The video autofocus system was slow and hard to use and if you used the in-camera microphone, which I did, you could hear the lens focusing in the sound track.  I went back to using my Canon S90 and IPhone 4 for video.

- It took some great photographs of my family.  But it isn't that much smaller than my Nikon D700 and I use the D700, Nikon D3, and Nikon D3S for my professional work.  These three cameras are almost identical operationaly.  The D7000 is smaller than these cameras and it just didn't feel right in my hands.  I can use the other three Nikons with my eyes closed, I had to think too much when I switched to the D7000.

- I have read some reviews that believe the D7000 is a better camera than the D700.  If your a professional photographer and are focused on picture quality, fast and accurate autofocus, and responsiveness, the D700 is a better camera.  I tried to use the D7000 a few times while on assignment.  I found the autofocus not to be as responsive in low light as the D700.  A number of times I filled the camera's buffer and I had to wait for it to clear before I could take pictures.  I don't remember the last time that happened with my D700. 

For the money, the D7000 is a great camera.  It is half the price of the D700 and is probably the best APS-C sensor DSLR camera on the market.  And of course, the D7000 does video, the D700 doesn't.  But for me, since I already had a D700 which I love, it just wasn't a fit for me.

Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 for Nikon Problem with VR Lenses

I had a problem on a shoot the other day with my Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 on my Nikon D3S with a Nikon 70-200MM F2.8 with VR II.  Even though I saw a flash of light come out of my flash, the photo was almost completely dark.  I called the engineering support staff at Pocket Wizard and he said that they have a problem syncing the TT5 when VR is on.  The problem also occoured with my Nikon 105MM F2.8 VR lens.  When I switched to a non-VR lens the problem went away.

THE FIX - while in manual mode, switch your shutter speed to 1/200 and take a photo and then you can change the shutter speed to whatever you want.  For some reason they can get in sync at 1/200 and once they do that they are good to go.

Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 for Nikon Review

I just received three Pocket Wizard FlexTT5s for Nikon.  I have been waiting two years for this technology ever since Pocket Wizard announced their offerings for Canon. Photographers who use Canon's E-TTL remote flash system or Nikon's i-TTL CLS flash system know the limitations of having to have your flashes in line of sight and within close proximity. Even when I would be inside within close proximity, I would have to make sure that the sensor on the remote flash was pointed back at my camera.  With my style of shooting I quite often move the lights all around my subject and having to re-align my flash to be sure it was pointing towards the camera was a real pain.

I tried the Radio Poppers but they were just too fragile for my purposes.  The RadioPopper PX transmitter box that was attached to the camera flash was held on by Velcro with a flimsy antenna sticking up in the air.   I move around a lot and quite often carry two cameras.  The Radio Popper transmitter kept getting bumped and would move or fall off the flash.  They also were very unreliable unless the batteries were very fresh.  I could barely get one photo shoot out of a set of batteries.  

I bought three Pocket Wizard TT5s vs getting a one Pocket Wizard TT1 and two TT5s because I didn't see much advantage other than size and $20 of getting the TT1.  The TT5 takes AA batteries vs a CR2450 for the TT1.  I don't know about you, but I have a lot of AA batteries laying around but not any CR2450s.  And, of course, the TT5 can act as a receiver and transmitter where the TT1 is just a transmitter.

They seem well built and I REALLY like the standard 1/4"-20 thread. I didn't even know that it had it until I received them.  I like to simplify my setups as much as I can.  The fewer parts that I have to put together when I get to a photo shoot the better.  I can mount the FlexTT5 right onto my light stand with the Manfrotto Swivel Umbrella Adapter.

One of the features of the FlexTT5 is the ability to tweak the flash sync speed beyond the 1/250 second  (they call it HyperSync). I have a Nikon D3S, D3,and a D7000.  I was able to sync all three cameras up to 1/400 using a Nikon SB800 as the remote flash before I went into Nikon's High Speed Sync.  I can sync up to 1/4000 of a second with my Alien Bee AB1600 but the light is so inconsistent over the sensor that you would never use it.  I couldn't get a clean, consistent flash with my AB1600 any faster than 1/320, 1/400 was usable but there was some shading going on.   My TT5 Sync delay on -200 when I am shooting with the AB1600. 

Testing them around my home (inside and outside) they seemed to work flawlessly except for one thing, when I used my Nikon D3S with a lens that had VR on I got flaky results. Sometimes the flash would work only if VR was off and sometimes only when VR was on.  It happened with both my Nikon 70-200 VR and my Nikon 105 Micro VR.  It didn't happen with my D3 or D7000.  I called the company and they said that VR can cause some problems and they hope to have it fixed in a future release of the software. 

You have to remember to take a few test shots to allow the TT5s to sync up, but once they do that they seemed to work fine.  I used the TT5 on the camera with and without a flash (SB900) attached.  Without the flash I put my camera in Manual mode and used the camera's exposure compensation to adjust the output of the flash.  With the SB900 attached, I was able to control the remote flashes from the SB900 controls just as I normally would without the TT5.  The remote flashes stay in TTL mode (not remote mode) and the switch on the Pocket Wizard TT5 allows you to designate which flash is in Group A, B, or C.

I hooked up my Pocket Wizard Plus IIs to one of my flashes and they went off when I fired my TT5. Of course, you can't control the flash output, but you can trigger a flash just like you have always done with PocketWizard Plus IIs. 

I hope to use these transceivers this weekend on a photo shoot.  We all know situations where things work great in your studio and you take them on location and nothing works.  I hope that won't happen here.

Here are my settings for my three TT5s.

                   Config 1                      Config 2

TT5/D3         Sync -240                   Sync -200 (used when I trigger Alien Bee AB1600)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

TT5/D3S       Sync -170                   Sync -170 (HSS Disabled)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

TT5/D7000    Sync -110                   Sync -200 (used when I trigger Alien Bee AB1600)

                   HSS enabled 1/500      HSS - disabled

 

MORE TO COME.......

Nikon D3S DSLR Review

I have had the Nikon D3S for about two months.  I have used the Nikon D3 for over three years and I really love it.  I was also using the Nikon D700 as my second camera.  The Nikon D700 is basically identical to the Nikon D3 in terms of picture quality and  autofocus.  They share the identical technology inside the two cameras.  The Nikon D3S adds another stop and a half to the ISO as well as video capabilities and sensor dust removal (which the D700 had but the D3 did not).   All three camera (Nikon D3, D3S, and D700) are 12.1 megapixels.  For me the big thing was the reduced noise at higher ISOs.  The two pictures were shot in a dark church and a dark reception hall in natural light.  They were shot at 10,000  and 8,000 ISO.  If you have a D3 you will be right at home with the D3S.  The controls and handling are the same.  The Nikon D3S is THE BEST camera on the market for photojournalists and wedding photographers or any photographer that needs to work in low light.

Nikon vs. Canon DSLR Review

Here we go.  There is nothing that can stir emotions among photographers like the debate as to which professional digital SLR is better - Canon or Nikon.

I started using Canon DSLRs back in 2002.  I plunked down $5000 for a 4 megapixel Canon 1D.  It was worth every penny.  It was fast, rugged, great autofocus and the picture quality was outstanding (relatively speaking for 2002).  The Canon lenses were all top notch.  I bought the 16-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 200mm F1.8 (what a great piece of glass), 85mm F1.2, 100mm F2.0, 50mm F1.4, and the 24mm F1.4.  All great lenses and combined with the 1D bodies they really created some great photos with the help of the photographer.

I bought the Canon 1DS, the Canon 1D Mark II, the Canon 1DS Mark II, and the Canon 1D Mark III.  These were all great cameras for their time and Canon was the clear leader over Nikon for low noise, high ISO images and they were the only manufacture with a full frame 35mm camera with the 1DS models.

Nikon had the 1.5 cropped sensor, and their high ISO performance was always a step behind Canon.

In 2007 everything changed.  Nikon introduced the 12 megapixel, full frame, high ISO (low noise up to 6400 ISO), rugged, great autofocus Nikon D3. 

During this time Canon introduced the Canon 1DS Mark III which took the pixel count over 21mp and only slightly improved the high ISO capabilities of the Canon 1DS Mark II. The Canon 1D Mark III was a great camera ... 10mp, 1.3 cropped senor with respectable high ISO up to 3200.  Many users reported autofocus problems with the Canon 1D Mark III, but I never really experienced that.  Many Canon users started using the Canon 5D ... a full frame 13mp camera in a pro-sumer body.  The problem with the 5D was its autofocus system.  It was basically the same system as found in the consumer level Canon 40D model.  The focus points were tightly bunched in the middle of the finder and they weren't as sensitive or accurate as their Canon 1D big brother, leading to a lot of out of focus shots.  In good light this camera produced great images, but if you were photograping moving subjects in poor light you were in trouble.  Canon then came out with the 5D Mark II which took the pixel count over 21mp and improved the high ISO performance, but the autofocus system was still pro-sumer and the 21mp was overkill for what I needed.

As a photojournalist and wedding photographer 12mp is the sweet spot for resolution.  The images are big enough to allow you to enlarge photographs up to 24 x 36, yet small enough as not to fill up CF cards and hard drives quickly and take longer to process on my Mac.

I bought the Nikon D3 for $5000 in 2007 to replace my Canon 1DS Mark II.  The Canon 1DS Mark III was $8000 and 21mp (overkill for me) and the ISO performance was two stops worse than the D3.  Then I bought the Nikon 14-24 and the Nikon 24-70 lenses.  Both lenses were newly introduced and were amazingly sharp.

I used the Nikon D3 along side the Canon 1D Mark III for about 6 months.  When Nikon introduced the Nikon D700 in the summer of 2008 I made the switch to Nikon 100%.  I bought the  70-200mm F2.8, 50mm F1.4, 85mm F1.4, and the 16mm fisheye to go along with my other 14-24mm and my 24-70mm lenses. The D700 was about $2,700 and had the same exact full frame image senor and autofocus system as in the D3 in a slightly smaller and lighter body. 

I also bought a few Nikon SB800 flashes and later the SB900 flash.  I have no hard core testing on this, but the Nikon flashes seem to be more accurate and the iTTL system seems to work much better and easier than the Canon wireless flash system.

After I switched to the Nikon system the number of keepers for a wedding went up by 25%.  My in-focus and properly exposed shots were much higher with the Nikon.  Maybe I became a much better photographer, but it seems like quite a coincidence. 

Come forward to 2010 ... Canon has introduced its 15mp, 1.3 cropped sensor 1D Mark IV with better high ISO, but still a stop or so worse than the new full frame, 12mp, Nikon D3s that was introduced in late 2009. Canon doesn't seem to get it.  Give your customers better ISO and a full frame camera, and stop trying to cram more pixels into a cropped sensor. 

Nikon has introduced a new 70-200mm F2.8 that is just amazing.  I shoot it wide open and it produces wonderfully sharp images.  Canon also introduced a new 70-200 that I am sure is also excellent.

In terms of lenses, both Nikon and Canon have a great lineup ... you won't go Canon or Nikon because of the lenses.

If you doing landscapes or in-studio portraits, you can't go wrong with either system.  If your on the go and working in low light conditions, Nikon, IMO, gives you the best option.

 

 

 

Aperture 3 vs. Lightroom 3 Review - again

I was going to try to use Apple Aperture 3 for portrait shoots and use Lightroom 3 for large engagements like weddings and events.  You can beat Lightroom 3 for speed and workflow.  But Aperture 3 has some real nice brushes for skin smoothing, retouching, and blurring that would allow me to aleviate the need to go to Photoshop.  I can do some level of smooting and retouching in Lightroom 3, but it isn't as powerful as Aperture 3. 

So I did an executive photography shoot in my studio and decided give Aperture 3 the business.  I did an in camera white balance with my WhiBal card.  I brought the photos into Aperture and did my photo editing.  I had about a dozen photos so the the speed and workflow concerns aren't a big deal. 

The photos looked pretty good, but there were a few things that I just didn't like.  So for comparison purposes I imported the photos into Lightroom.  To my surprise the skin tones were more natural with Lightroom.  The Aperture skin tones were a little red and the vignette control just didn't give me a dark enough vignette and I wasn't able to control the shape and tone of the vignette as well as Lightroom.

These two pictures don't really show the differences that well. On my screen the differences were more pronounced.  The photograph on the left is from Lightroom and the photograph on the right is from Aperture.

I will still use Aperture for my home photographs and video management.  I was hoping the Lightroom 3 when it went into production would have better video support.  I can't wait for Adobe anymore so I bought Aperture 3 and love the video support and the slideshow feature which allows me to produce great movies that combine stills, video, and music.

The KILLER feature of Lightroom 3 is the Lens Correction feature.  I hand hold a lot of group portraits at weddings.  I try to get my lines straight in camera, but they always seemed to need to be tweaked in Photoshop.  This feature allows me to get nice straight lines and remove all lens distortion, saving me from a lot of round trips to Photoshop.  The noise reduction is much better and the overal image quality is much improved over Lightroom 2.

DROBO Review

I put off buying a DROBO for a couple of years.  The idea of a single storage device that could hold ALL my photographs since I began to shoot digitally was very appealing.  I had grown a data farm over the years with multiple external drives from multiple vendors.  The stacks of drives along with all the USB cables and power cords was really becoming a pain.  Amazon and DataRobotics was running a special - $340 for the Drobo (I have the base model second generation mofel with four drives with the firewire 800) from Amazon and then subtract a $40 rebate from DR.  I bought for 1.5TB drives from Amazon for about $109 each.  The total cost was about $740 for a single RAID storage device that netted me about 4.0 terabytes vs. seven drives that had no hardware backup. 

My main computer is an Apple Mac Pro which has four drive bays and I use them all.  So the  DROBO is used purely for backup, not day to day work. 

Overall the Drobo works as advertised.  I put the four drives into the Drobo in about 10 minutes, installed the software on my Mac Pro and it was ready to go.  It looks like any other hard drive on my computer, but it is a huge 4.8 terabyte drive.  I started moving all my files from those individual storage drives to my Drobo.  That took about 24 hours ... not quite as fast as I thought it would be, but you only have to do it once.

One small problem that I have had is that when I put my Mac Pro to sleep the Drobo also goes to sleep (that is good), but when I wake up my Mac Pro the Drobo wakes up but the Drobo Dashboard application that comes with the Drobo can't find it.  The Drobo drive is still recognized by Snow Leopard and I can see it in the File Manager, but the Dashboard application can't seem to find it.  This is very strange, especially since the operating system finds it.  The only way to remedy the situation is to unplug the power cord (the Drobo  doesn't have an off/on switch) and plug it back in.  Sort of clunky.  I have researched all the Drobo support pages and this seems to be the only work around.


The other annoying thing about the Drobo is that when I do almost any file operation, like saving a file, the operating system seems to wake up the Drobo even if I don't select it.  When  this happens, Drobo spins up the four drives in sequential order and I can be sitting there for about 20 seconds waiting for the Drobo drives to spin up.   Since the Drobo is a backup device, I just take it offline by putting it in standby mode.  When I need to use the Drobo I have to unplug and plug the power cord.

At the end of the day having all my files on one large RAID storage device that does not require any management by me is a dream.  BTW I have two more copies of my files on other drives.  I take my production drives when they are full and ship them offsite.  If you are going to use the Drobo for production work, you really need two Drobos in case one of the Drobos fails. 

Aperture 3 Performance and Usability Review

I figured out how to get Apple's Aperture 3 to perform in a similar manner as Lightroom.  I upgraded my Mac Pro's graphics card from the nVidia GeForce 7300 GT to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Card.  Aperture 3 takes advantage of all the processing power of the 4870 graphics card and really improves the performance when doing things like retouching,  skin smoothing, or even just changing global parameters like exposure and brightness. 

IMOP - anyone who is considering running Aperture 3 needs to make sure that their graphics card can handle it.  Apple does not specify any minimum configuration for Aperture other than it be a Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  I have a Mac Book and Aperture 3 runs like a dog on it, it really isn't usable.

I have been using Aperture 3 for about six weeks now and there are still a few things that bug me.

They implemented most of the brushes perfectly.  I can modify a brushes' intensity after I have applied it and I can have multiple adjustments in case I want to control them independently. But for some reason when it comes to the retouch brush I can't modify the opacity after I have applied it (I can only modify just before I apply it and if I get it wrong I have to go back and delete it and re-do it), and I can't have multiple retouch adjustments.   Since I use the retouch a lot this would be a great enhancement.  The spot and retouch tool works in the same manner.

I still prefer how Lightroom allows me to sync adjustments from image to image, and I like how when I draw a mask using Lightroom's adjustment brush that I can change multiple parameters, like exposure, saturation, clarity, etc..

LIGHTROOM WISHES:

- Add retouch brush like Aperture and be able to change each brush independently.

- Add video and slideshow support like Aperture. 

APPLE APERTURE  3 WISHES:

- Give me independent brushes for retouching and spot removal so I can modify them at a later time.

- Allow me to sync changes as easily as Lightroom (I really love Lightroom's Previous button)

Lightroom 3 Beta 2 Review

What has changed since Lightroom 3 Beta 1?

 

  • IMAGE QUALITY with the new noise reduction is much better.  You have to play around with the Luminance, Detail, and Contrast sliders in conjunction with the Sharpening amounts to get a look that you like.  I was trying some different settings with the Luminance slider and you can get some very strange looking texture in your images if you tune these things wrong.  The sample on the left is from LR 2 and the one on the right is from LR 3 Beta 2.  LR 3 is definitely cleaner, but you lose a little detail.  The settings were the same for both photographs. It would be nice if you could brush in noise reduction like in Aperture 3 rather than applying noise reduction to the entire photograph.

  • TETHER SUPPORT - this worked with my Nikon D700 for a few frames and then I couldn't get it to work again.  I am sure they will work the bugs out of this before it is released.  The implemenation is clean and simple and will be a great new addition.  Aperture 3 Tether left a copy of the images on my CF card as well as downloading them to my laptop, Lightroom 3 does not.  
  • VIDEO SUPPORT - this is definitely a reaction to Aperture 3 video support and it shows.  All Adobe did was allow you to import the video file into your Lightroom catalogue ... that is it.  What a joke.  You can't edit it, you can't include it in a slideshow. If you click on the thumbnail it will play in your default video player.  I hope a lot more is coming in the final release.
  • IMPORT - Adobe broke the import function in Lightroom 3 Beta 1 by adding to much functionality and slowing it down from Lightroom 2.  Lightroom 2 import was clean,  simple and fast.  LR3B2 import seemed quicker, but I still like the LR 2 interface better.
  • PERFORMANCE - Beta 3 does seem to be a little quicker overall than Beta 1 or even Lightroom 2.  This is where Lightroom just punishes Aperture 3. When you make a change in this new release, the image is changed immediatley. 

Compeition is good.  Adobe is definitely reacting to Apple's Aperture video and tether support.  They have a long way to go to catch up to the Aperture 3 video support.   Aperture also has book designing, faces recognition, location (GPS) support, and a slideshow feature with video support that puts Lightroom to shame.  


Better Family Photography

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a presentation to MOPS, Moms Of Pre-School children group at Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA, on how to take better family pictures.  At first I thought this would be easy for a professional photographer.  It turned out to be harder than I thought.  I had to put myself in their shoes and not make any assumptions.

I opened up the presentation by taking questions and concerns from the moms. 

  • my pictures are blurry, my son is one big blur across the photograph
  • there is always a big delay when I hit the shutter button and I miss the shot
  • my kids always want to see the photographs right after I take them
  • how can I get them all to smile at the same time?

They also sent me some photos ahead of time and had me analyze them.  What I saw was harsh lighting, boring composition and little emotion.  Over the next few days I will post here on my blog what I recommended.  It was fun.

Here is  sample photo that I received:

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Aperture 3 Review Update

I have been using Aperture 3 for the past couple of weeks trying to become more comfortable with the interface. I updated to 3.0.1. It seems a bit more stable and a bit faster, but still not fast enough. I did a test with five images from a wedding that I photographed last year. I edited the images with Lightroom and then did the same adjustments in Aperture. It took 12 minutes in Lightroom and 15 minutes in Aperture ... 25% more time. Some of that has to do with me being more comfortable with Lightroom, though I did practice in Aperture quite a bit to minimize that. I made videos of the two tests, you can click here to see them:
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Aperture 3 vs. Lightroom Review

SUMMARY

I have used Lightroom for a few years since its first release.  I tried Aperture 1 and Aperture 2 and never found them compelling enough to switch from Lightroom.  Unless Lightroom 3 has video support (like Aperture 3) when it is released,  I  will be buying  a copy of Aperture 3.

 

My biggest headache before I used Lightroom  was getting through the editing process for weddings.   I was using Photo Mechanic for file management, Capture One for RAW processing,  and Photoshop to do any special effects or cleanup.  It would take me days to edit the 400 to 500 images from each wedding.  Lightroom cut that time in half.  The RAW processing wasn't as good as Capture One but the productivity gains far out weighed the image quality difference.  In my opinion, for smaller jobs where you have less than a couple dozen photos that you edit,  the editing workflow / products you use isn't going to make that much difference in your productivity. For bigger jobs, products like Lightroom can save your marriage.

The other headache that I have had was managing my photos and videos for my personal/home photography.  I see myself adding video to my professional work in the near future, so this fusion thing is important to me.  I tried IPhoto with IMovie but I found them kludgy and I just never liked how Apple would try to make the programs simple for the novice user and take away the ability to really manage your files (if you wanted to).   I also tried to use Lightroom and IMovie but that was not very elegant either. Aperture 3 allows me to manage my home photos and videos in the same program, store files where I want them, and produce great sideshows that integrate still photos, video, music, text and transitions in a very elegant manner.  

SO WHY DON'T I SWITCH MY PROFESSIONAL WORK TO APERTURE 3?

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DVD Joe Buissink: A Workshop

If you haven't seen Joe's work or how he approaches weddings, this might be a good DVD to get. But if you know Joe and have his prior DVDs, this may not be worth the $100. I got it for $75 (with shipping) ... he was running a special. This video was filmed at a two day workshop he did in Canada. The DVD is broken down into 30 chapters/topics. You get a few minutes from each section of his two day workshop. The good news is that I wanted more ... the bad news is that I didn't get it. When the credits rolled at the end I was a bit shocked because I was sure more information was going to follow. The DVD lasted around an hour, he could have easily fillled up the DVD and given us two hours. Maybe he wants you to want more so you sign up for his two day workshop.
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