Notes from PMA ‚2008

PMA is not a typical photography trade show. Because it’s geared for photo dealers and studio photographers, there are lots of vendors hawking goods that the typical photographer doesn’t need. Laser etching machines, photo printing kiosks, industrial-grade large format printers, and other exotica, abound at PMA. However, many of the usual suspects attend PMA—Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Fuji and all the other major camera vendors—as well as many accessory and software vendors. This year’s PMA included a couple of important announcements, and a stroll through the maze of camera booths revealed some great new technologies.

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Wet Camera Pilaf

Uncle BenReader panzeriv88 sends in a very interesting tip that might help in the stormy, wet months of winter. If you end up with a submerged camera, don’t give up all hope. If you’re careful and take quick action, it might be possible to dry the camera without damaging it. Read on for details.
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HP announces new pro photo inkjet

HP today announced the Photosmart Pro B8850, a $550 photo inkjet with eight pigment-based inks, including dual black inks for photo and matte papers and a gray ink for better black-and-white printing. The printer, which is slated to ship in April, looks like it will be a strong contender to Epson’s Stylus Photo R1900, a similarly priced photo inkjet that was announced last week.

If you want more info on the B8850, check out the specs and analysis over on Printerville; a first look at the printer should be posted later this week.

Convert Raw to DNG Automator Action

APRIL 2018: This action no longer works and the links to it have been removed. You can batch-convert raw files to DNG with Adobe’s DNG Converter (currently at version 9.12.1), or when importing images into Lightroom (version 6 and Classic), if that is your primary image editor.

For step-by-step instructions on batch-converting Raw files with DNG Converter, see this more recent post on Complete Digital Photography; this process is required if you are using Lightroom 6 (the last non-subscription version of Lightroom) and get a new camera with raw files that aren’t supported with Lightroom 6.

We still publish a set of Photoshop Automator Actions, which has been updated for Photoshop CC 2018. You can find out more at our sister site, RobotPhotoshop.com.


Adobe’s Digital Negative Specification, or DNG format, provides an open standard for the storage of raw camera data. However, since few cameras can store directly into Digital Negative format, if you want to take advantage of DNG, you first need to convert your existing raw files to DNG format using the Adobe DNG Converter. Mac users running OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) or later can ease their conversion tasks using this Automator action, which lets you batch process your DNG conversions, as well as include DNG conversion in a more complex image processing pipeline. This updated version adds Leopard support as well as the ability to convert Sony SR2 files.

For photographers who shoot raw, DNG offers several important advantages over proprietary formats: it’s open source, so any software or hardware vendor can support it; it won’t vanish if any particular company goes out of business; and it includes support for all raw conversion metadata, making for a more efficient, all-in-one, raw format/metadata file.

Automator, meanwhile, is an excellent workflow automation tool which allows you to create applets that automatically manage your post-production pipeline. Read more »

New law for flying with camera batteries

For those of you who travel by air with your cameras, be aware that as of January 1, 2008, it’s no longer legal to put lithium ion batteries in checked baggage. From now on, all spare lithium ion batteries must be kept in carry-on bags, with the terminals covered. REVISED: The US Department of Transportation has clarified its rules. Small lithium-ion batteries – like the types that are used in laptop computers and cameras are exempt from the new rules becuase they contain less than 8 grams of lithium. So, you should be able to travel normally, even after the new restrictions.

These days, most cameras use either Lithium Ion or Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. Lithium Ion batteries are usually marked with an Li-Ion monicker of some kind.

Obviously, batteries in your camera aren’t a concern, unless you’re hoping to put your camera in your checked bag, which is usually not a good idea, for any number of reasons.

Most spare batteries ship with covers for the contacts and it’sa good idea to use these when packing your batteries.

Though I’ve never tested this, it’s probably better to carry on your batteries anyway, as keeping them in your checked baggage could subject them to cold that will make them lose their charge. Cold won’t permanently damage your batteries, but it could result in them needing to be topped off.

For more info, click here.

Nikon Compressed Raw Format – Lossy or Lossless?

NikonLike most digital SLRs, Nikon’s family of digital SLRs offer the ability to shoot in raw mode. However, Nikon’s raw offerings provide a twist, in the form of compressed raw. The promise of compressed raw files, of course, is that they take up less space and allow you to store more images on your card. Data compression algorithms fall into two categories: lossy techniques, which degrade the quality of your image; and lossless techniques, which reduce file size without affecting image quality. Nikon users often ask whether the compressed raw format is lossless or lossy, so I decided to look into the question.
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My Favorite New Bridge Feature

Bridge CS3Bridge CS3 offers a lot of important improvements over the Bridge 1.0 that was included in Creative Suite 2. Interface improvements, stacking, comparing, importing, and much much more have all been added, and Bridge remains an excellent cornerstone for a Photoshop Camera Raw driven raw-workflow. I covered most of the the new Bridge features in my Photoshop CS3 First Look book, but Adobe managed to sneak in one or two more before the final release of the software. Here’s one of my favorites.
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Epson Stylus Pro 3800 reviewed

Over on Macworld.com, I posted a short review regarding Epson’s latest professional-level printer, the 17-inch Stylus Pro 3800.

The 3800 is a funny beast—it has the best print quality of any previous Epson printer, and it is priced in a place where it has no real competitor. There is no roll-feed attachment—17 by 22 inches is the largest standard size it will print on—and it doesn’t have the whiz-bang features that HP and Canon are putting into their pro-level printers, like automatic addition of paper profiles, a Photoshop plug-in, and fancy calibration tools. And, while it fixes the physical ink swapping found in the Stylus Photo R2400 and the Stylus Pro 4800, it still does have to go through a purge cycle when you go back and forth between matte- and glossy-finish paper types.

That said, print quality and repeatability are often what pro photgraphers want most, and the 3800 has that in spades.

Match Color in Photoshop CS2/CS3

Match ColorWith Photoshop CS2, Adobe added the Match Color feature which lets you alter the palette of one image to look like another. Match Color can be used for everything from slight tonal corrections, to ensuring that an image fits better with a design scheme or other imge. unfocusedbrain.com, a “blog with everything” has an excellent demo of how you can use Match Color in conjunction with famous classical paintings to perform dramatic color adjustments. Check it out here.

Capture NX and the Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye Lens

Nikon Capture NX provides an excellent auto correction edit for removing distortion from images shot with the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. Though I mention this feature in Real World Capture NX, I didn’t have enough room in the book to include examples, so we’re going to look at the specifics of this feature here. With the Fisheye Lens edit, you can create cropped, rectilinear images with a single click.

Capture NX automatically recognizes images shot with the Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye. It does this, of course, by reading the lens information stored in the image’s EXIF data. When it sees that an image was shot with the 10.5mm fisheye, it adds an extra option to the Base Adjustments entry in the Edit List. If you look under Base Adjustments > Lens Adjustments, you’ll see an entry for Fisheye Lens. Normally, this option is grayed out. Open the Fisheye Lens edit and you’ll see the following.

Fisheye Lens

If you click OK, the adjustment will be activated and applied to your image.

Capture NX Fisheye Lens Correction

The most immediately noticeable difference in these two images is the change in the shape of the dog’s face. But take note of the buildings in the background, and the edge of the wall. Both have been straightened quite efffectively.

By default, Capture NX crops your images to a rectangle. If you’d prefer to maintain the entire image, complete with its correction, check the “Include areas where there is no image data” checkbox. You’ll see something like this:

Uncropped fisheye lens correction

The Fill Color pop-up menu lets you specify what color to use for the empty image space.

I love the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye. I think it’s an extremely fun lens to use that yields excellent quality. One of the nicest things about it is that it’s not a terribly extreme fisheye. If you choose, you can actually shoot straight, level horizons with it by carefully levelling your camera. What’s more, with the addition of Capture NX, you can opt to use the lens as a normal, extremely wide angle rectilinear lens.

If you already own this lens and haven’t looked at Capture NX, you’ll want to give the free demo a try. If you haven’t shot with this lens, consider renting one and giving it a try.