Update on CDP 9

We’ve hit a snag with the ninth edition of Complete Digital Photography, and as a result have pulled the book from distribution while we work through the issues. This is not something we wanted to do, but it is clear that the print quality of the book isn’t at an acceptable level for some readers. We are looking at alternatives to the company that handled the printing and distribution, and once we have determined a path forward, we’ll make the book available again. (The ebook version is underway on a separate track, and we’re still targeting next month for the release of the ebook for Amazon and Apple’s stores.)

What happened?

During the production process, Ben and I had numerous discussions about the price of the book, distribution options and print quality. For us, there were two paramount issues: we wanted a reasonably priced book, and we wanted photo quality that would clearly demonstrate the concepts Ben shows throughout the book. We knew that we couldn’t create a book that would have offset-level print quality–print-on-demand technology is closer to laser printing than traditional printing–but we worked hard to make sure that the photos were edited properly for our chosen printer.

In the end, we chose the basic color printing option from Ingram, one of the largest book distributors in the business, and a well-known print-on-demand operation. (I used Ingram for my first self-published book, Aging: An Apprenticeship, and had a largely positive experience with the company.) This let us price the book at $54.99–still higher than we wanted–but it gave us what we felt was an acceptable quality level.

Along the way, we ordered a number of proof copies of the book, and felt that we had been able to achieve a balance of image quality and price. This decision wasn’t made in a vacuum; we showed the proof copies to quite a few photographers and readers, and the consensus was that the book’s quality was good for what we were trying to do.

We had some inventory issues related to the holidays after the book was released, but once Amazon sorted things out, we sold a bunch of copies. We also received some negative reviews about the print quality from a few people who bought the book. We know that there were at least two false reviews up there (a common Amazon problem, unfortunately), but we have heard from others whom we know purchased the book, and it is clearly an issue for some people.

What’s next?

We are looking into a few different options, but none of them are straightforward. Amazon’s print-on-demand service has better quality, but there’s no way we can use their service and keep the book’s price at its current level. We wouldn’t be taking a loss just to print a copy, but we’d make so little that we’d barely break even with our minimal overhead. And, if we wished to have Amazon take control of all distribution of the book–for sales on Amazon and from traditional booksellers–their percentage take would mean we’d have to price the book in the $75 range, which is a deal-breaker for us. As a result, we’re looking into using a combination of Amazon and Ingram’s printing/distribution services (letting Amazon print for their sales, and using Ingram’s higher-level print quality for third-party booksellers), or choosing a different printer entirely.

There are other print-on-demand services, but they have their own problems and issues. The biggest roadblock is that every one of them would require a price point that is unacceptable to us (Blurb’s pricing, for example, would cost us more than $50 to print a copy of the book). And offset printing would require us to print hundreds (or thousands, if we thought that we would sell that many) of copies, and pay large fees up front for printing and warehousing.

We will have an answer soon, but we felt it was important to be transparent about what’s going on. When we started work on the ninth edition, we had no illusions that CDP would make us rich, but we thought we could produce a good book at a decent price, one that helped newcomers discover the wonders of digital photography. We think that we’ll still be able to do that, and we hope to have Complete Digital Photography back on sale soon.

Note to purchasers

While we still feel that the quality of the book’s illustrations and photos illustrate our vision for CDP, we understand that not everyone feels that way. So, if you purchased the ninth edition from Amazon, and you truly are unhappy with the quality, you should return it. Amazon will gladly take it back.

If you bought it from us, we will send out an email once we have figured out our options, but know that we’ll be happy to take the book back and refund your money.

Comparing the Fujifilm GFX 50S to the Fujifilm GFX 50R

We’re not big on equipment reviews here at Complete Digital Photography, partly because there are plenty of other places to get that kind of information, but also because we would like to encourage people to focus more on the art and craft of photography, rather than worrying about gear. With camera marketers constantly hammering you with news of career-saving new features, it can be hard to resist the idea that a new piece of gear is somehow going to make you a better photographer.

Nevertheless, I am a photographer, which means I do depend on gear, and while no equipment upgrade will do as much for your photographic skill as will hours of dedicated practice, from time to time I do find myself facing some gear-related questions.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to use the Fujifilm GFX 50S and GFX 50R side-by-side. These are both medium format cameras that offer identical image quality and mostly identical feature sets, but very different physical styles. In the following video, I walk through my impressions of the strengths and weaknesses of each model. This is not a discussion of whether medium format is right for you – that’s a bigger question – but rather a look at what these two specific cameras offer.

In the process of preparing this video I was surprised by a number of my conclusions, and I learned that W.C. Fields was right: you should never work with children or animals. They’ll upstage you every time.

Check out the video here:

Hudson Henry’s Advanced Pano Course

Hudson Henry Advanced Pano CourseOur good friend—and ace adventure photographer—Hudson Henry has just released his long-awaited Advanced Panorama Course, and is offering it at half-price for a limited time.

Building upon Hudson’s best-selling Panoramas Made Simple ebook (published by CDP Press), this new course contains more than two hours of videos, focusing on all aspects of panorama creation, from choosing gear to field setup, capture, and postproduction.

The Advanced Panorama Course includes everything you need to know to capture both simple panos and complex multi-row and HDR panoramas. Hudson also shows you his process for assembling and editing panoramas in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and ON1 Photo RAW. (There are two versions of the course available: one for Lightroom and Photoshop, the other for Photo RAW.)

Included with the course are the raw files Hudson uses in the videos (for you to follow along), as well as a gear list, course notes and cheatsheets.

The Advanced Panorama course is currently on sale for $29.99 directly from Hudson, and will be priced at $59.99 after January 31.

You can find out all the details on Hudson’s website. If you would like to get a sample of the course, Hudson is also offering a free download of one of the videos: “Finding the No-Parallax Point (aka the Nodal Point)

Hudson Henry on the Exposure Triangle

I’ve been heads-down the past few weeks, working hard on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography. Last week, I was proofing the section of the book that covered reciprocity and the exposure triangle, and, in a little bit of synchronicity, my good friend Hudson Henry posted this cool video on that very topic. Hudson and his friend Andy Adkins — a true video wizard — did a fantastic job explaining the relationship between ISO, aperture and shutter speed. It’s worth a few minutes, especially if the topic is something that remains a bit confusing to you, or if you want a refresher.

For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the 9th edition, we really are in the final stages. You can find out more — and download a free sample chapter — via this link. I’ll post an update once we get our final proof copy from the printer, which should be later this week.

Complete Digital Photography 9th Edition sample chapter

Ben and I are in the midst of our final push to get the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography out the door (the final cover is on the left). My office is littered with page proofs — each chapter gets read a minimum of eight times — and my ever-patient wife is wondering if we’ll ever get this darn book out, but we’re feeling confident overall.

[UPDATE (December 2018): The ninth edition of Ben’s Complete Digital Photography is now available. You can find out more on our CDP9 book page, or, you can order the book directly from Amazon.]

Read more »

Epson November Printer Rebates

Epson P600Speaking about photo printing, Epson is currently having a mail-in rebate sale on their SureColor P400, P600 and P800 photo printers. The rebates range from $200 to $350, depending upon the printer, for any of these models purchased between November 1 and November 30.

The rebates are good when you purchase a new printer, but Epson is adding $50 for folks upgrading from any 6-ink (or more) photo printer, from any vendor; to get the additional rebate, you just enter the printer serial number and model on the rebate form.

The specifics on the rebates are:

(The links above are to Amazon—which has the cheapest online prices (in the US)—but you can also find out more on the Epson website. The rebate forms are PDF files.)

Why you should care

I’ve used both a P600 and P800 for a few years now, and love both of them. They have bigger ink cartridges than older models, with a better paper feed and excellent print quality—and are pretty much always been ready to print. I will say that Canon is doing a pretty good job in the desktop photo printer market these days, but it’s hard to pass up these prices (and rebates) if you think it’s time to start printing—or upgrade.

(If you’re thinking, “Why print?”, check out my chat about printing with the great guys of the PhotoActive podcast.)

PhotoActive Podcast: Talking About Printing

Last week, I was a guest on the PhotoActive podcast, chatting about photo printing with the hosts Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn. We talked about such things as “Why print at all?” (heresy!); why printing today—whether online or with your own printer—is better than it has ever been; and how learning about printing is no different than learning about your camera (practice, practice, practice!). It was a lot of fun, and if you are interested in the state of photo printing today, I humbly think it’s well worth taking time to listen in. It’s short—my segment is only about 30 minutes in length.

I’m not a huge podcast guy—especially ones about such a visual medium as photography—but I’ve really enjoyed PhotoActive since Jeff and Kirk started it up earlier this year. The episodes are brief, with minimal chit-chat, and they find interesting guests (who mostly don’t talk about gear, which I also love). If you want to get a taste, but don’t care about printing, I recommend the recent episode with photographer and author Michael Rubin, who spoke about how his family collected fine-art prints when he was growing up, and how it has informed his photographic life.

PhotoActive is subtitled, “A Podcast about Photography and the Apple Ecosystem,” but the Mac angle is fairly low-key. If you’re a Windows user, don’t avoid it; I’ve found most episodes are focused more on photography than the Mac, and I almost always learn something. It’s worth checking out.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Spotify, or download it directly from photoactive.co.


[When it rains, it prints: Epson has great rebates this month on their SureColor photo printer line.]

 

Ben Long: Practice the Art of Seeing

Ben would really, really like you to buy the upcoming 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography, but he adds that there’s nothing that will help make you a better photographer than to practice. Specifically, to practice the art of seeing.

Get out there and practice, practice, practice!

Sign up today for our email list, and we’ll send you information on the 9th edition as we have it, including sample chapters, discounts and more.

The Rise of Computational Photography

Computational photography is coming up more and more as a topic these days, driven largely by developments in the smartphone world. Apple and Google, specifically, have worked diligently over the past few years to overcome the inherent limitations in the cameras of their pocket-size phones—small sensors and tiny lenses—to produce better images than would be available solely from the phones’ optics alone. By using custom chips, advanced software, dual lenses (in the case of newer iPhones and some Android phones) and more, these phones can create photographs that once required high-end cameras or painstaking compositing to produce. (For more, see Jeff Carlson’s piece on DPReview.com about the computational aspects of the iPhone XS.)

The result is that our phones now use this technology to provide impressive images, ones combined in the phone from multiple “shots.” They include things like automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, seamless panoramas, and portraits with shallow depth of field. Sure, you can find many online commenters who rail against the bad portrait shots and wonky panos as proof that this iPhone or that Pixel is not as good as a basic SLR or mirrorless camera, but that misses the point (something we talk about extensively in Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera). Read more »