Revisited: Do you need a full-frame sensor?

Five years ago, I wrote this piece on whether you should buy a full-frame or cropped sensor digital camera. At the time, cameras with a full-frame sensor were substantially more expensive than cropped-sensor cameras, and a lot of people believed that, eventually, cropped-sensor cameras would be phased out and replaced by more affordable full-frame cameras. Five years later, we’ve seen that that’s not going to happen, but the question remains: do you need full-frame or is a cropped sensor camera okay? Read more »

Why You Need a Pressure-Sensitive Tablet

Over the years, I’ve found that photographers tend to fall into two categories: those that edit heavily, and those that rarely edit at all. Of course, this is a generalization, and most users do some kind of editing. But in general, it seems like photographers either edit heavily, or they simply try to work with what comes out of the camera. If you’re the type who edits heavily, then you should seriously consider getting a pressure-sensitive tablet. For re-touching, cutting masks, or performing any painting-based edits, a tablet can make your editing process much easier, and even enable some edits that are impossible, or extremely difficult, with a mouse. If you’re not clear why you might want a tablet, here’s a detailed discussion of the advantages, and a look (with video) at the new Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless tablet..

Some new photo gadgets

As many of you probably know, it isn’t easy being a nerdy gearhead. Oh sure, exploring and mastering a new gizmo isn’t too hard, but keeping your gizmo fix satisfied is not only expensive, but time consuming. Fortunately, with the recent spate of photo-related trade shows, there are a number of cool new photo gadgets to consider. Here’s a quick look at seven photo-related hardware accessories that you might want to consider.

Choosing a tripod

You may think you’re a camera geek, but if the thought of a new tripod or head doesn’t get your palms sweaty, then you still have a ways to go to plumb the true depths of your photo-related nerd potential. Personally, I have two tripods, a couple of heads, and a fairly large assortment of smaller stabilization gizmos, and yet it’s always hard to walk past the tripod section at the camera store without stopping to feel the weight of this tripod, admire the new composite material of another tripod, or test the latest locking levers on still another tripod. If you don’t have a tripod fetish, then choosing a tripod might be something of a mystery, as it may seem like little more than three sticks joined at the top. But oh, a tripod can be so much more. Read more »

Build Your Own Network Attached Server (Drobo)

I’ve been writing about digital photography for a long time, and I’m not sure how many times I’ve written something to the effect of: “one of the great things about digital photography is that you can shoot and shoot without having to pay for film and processing.” And while this is true, it completely ignores the fact that you still have to pay for disk storage. As your image archive grows, choosing a storage strategy can become fairly complicated. I recently found what I think is an ideal solution, in the form of a do-it-yourself Network Attached Server called an unRaid. My unRaid has many of the best features of other systems such as RAIDs or Drobos, but for far less money.

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The Mac Netbook Revisited

With Apple’s announcement of the iPad, there’s a lot of talk lately about the “death of the netbook.” But for the photographer, a netbook is still a much better alternative to any other portable option. Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than a typical laptop, a netbook provides plenty of storage for offloading images, but can run the same software that you use on your everyday computer. In addition to replacing your digital wallet-type device, having a real keyboard and connectivity options make netbooks capable terminals for the traveling photographer. If you’re a Mac user, though, you won’t find any netbook options from Apple. However, it’s now easier than ever to hack certain netbooks to run the latest version of Snow Leopard.

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Luma Loop – A Radical Camera Strap Re-Design

You wouldn’t think that there’s much you could do to change the design of a camera strap. Oh sure, you can build it out of better materials, and make the strap easier to attach or detach, and maybe make one strap that’s more fashionable than another. But actually creating a truly different strap, one that functions in a different, better way? That’s a tougher call, because a camera strap seems to be a fairly basic piece of gear. But, Luma Labs has proven that even something as seemingly simple as a camera strap can be given a radical new spin, and dramatically improved. For your consideration: the Luma Loop.

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Panasonic Electronic Viewfinder for the GF1

While the Panasonic GF-1 Micro Four Thirds camera is a great option for SLR or point-and-shoot users, photographers who are used to an optical viewfinder – especially those shooters coming from an SLR – might find themselves frustrated by the camera’s LCD-only viewfinder. For these users, Panasonic has created a clip-on electronic viewfinder that serves as a credible replacement for a quality optical viewfinder, though with a few caveats. Read more »

Panasonic DMC-GF1

Panasonic’s DMC-GF1 marks the company’s first release of a compact Micro Four Thirds camera, and a direct competitor to Olympus’ E-P1. Offering SLR quality and power in a package that’s close to point-and-shoot size, the GF1 (and Olympus’ E-P1) defines an entirely new class of camera. Bridging the market between high-end point-and-shoots, and SLRs, the camera will appeal to beginning shooters who want to expand their capabilities, and high-end shooters who want a second camera that’s easy to carry. Read my Panasonic GF1 Review.

Should You Buy an Olympus E-P1 or Panasonic GF1?

It’s been a while since an entirely new niche of digital camera has come along, but with the release of the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic DMC-GF1, that’s what we have. These “Micro Four Thirds” cameras represent the first significantly new class of camera since, possibly, Canon’s D30 SLR in 2000. With their small size, interchangeable lenses, and sensors that are larger than what you’ll find in a point-and-shoot, they offer a new option for SLR shooters who want a smaller second camera, but don’t want to give up too much image quality. Conversely, for point-and-shooters who are ready to move on, but don’t want to hassle with the weight of an SLR, a Micro Four Thirds camera might be just the ticket. But which of these two cameras is right for you?

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