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Adobe bumps Lightroom's multi-core performance, adds a few new features

Adobe continues to release incremental improvements to its various versions of Lightroom. Those of us who prefer the Classic version will be happy to see improved performance. The ability to quickly create collections from folders will also make managing collections across mobile devices easier. “New CC” gets some bug fixes, and the Android version adds Google Assistant integration, which should prove interesting, as well as perspective correction. Adobe’s complete list of updates to Lightroom and XD:

Zephyr: A drone simulator for fun and for learning

Whether you are learning to improve your drone flying to qualify for a commercial opportunity or simply to have more fun, it can be an expensive process involving trial, error, and crashes. It’s also hard to quantify your progress. Zephyr is an impressive drone simulation environment for the PC that lets you advance your flying skills from the comfort of your armchair. Using a controller that closely mimics the controller for your drone, you can fly through a wide variety of training lessons or just free fly in any of several nicely-crafted landscapes.

DxOMark looks back at how far smartphone cameras have come in only a few years

Industry camera benchmarking site DxOMark has published an interesting white paper chronicling the progress it has seen in 6 years of testing smartphone image quality. The progress in both hardware and software behind the improvement in results is fascinating and impressive. I’ve , along with charts from the paper and a link to the original.

Photographers take note: VR180 is worth keeping an eye on

Action cameras and VR have been two of the most hyped new categories of photo and video over the last few years. Action cams, typified by GoPro, have definitely taken the world by storm, but sales have become sluggish as the market has gotten fairly saturated. VR and 360, in contrast, have been slow to take off. Now, Google’s YouTube, along with several consumer electronics companies, are trying to combine elements of both into something they hope will extend the role of action photography and help make something happen in the VR space. Like consumer 360-degree cameras the VR180 units have two cameras, but instead of having one face in each direction to create a 360-degree 2D image, they face the same direction and produce a 180-degree 3D image. That makes them more suitable for VR viewing – and since most VR setups don’t really allow or promote full 360-degree motion, 180-degrees is easier and more practical. You can read more about the technology and the first VR180 cameras in .

Adobe adds some nice goodies to Photoshop CC: Including High-DPI monitors and Masking

Adobe continues to keep a steady trickle of Photoshop improvements coming. Today it announced improved support for high-DPI monitors, with the Photoshop UI now adapting the native Windows scaling of between 100% and 400%. That will be particularly well received for those (like me) with 4K laptops and less-than-super-human vision. There is also a new slider for Masking off Selections that tries to calibrate how precise you want it to be. Presumably this builds on its “Sensei” machine learning technology for improved results over previous systems.

DJI's new Mavic Air gives you more reasons not to put off buying a drone

DJI Mavic Air (Arctic White)If you’ve been stalling on getting into the fun hobby of drone photography, DJI has come up with another reason not to. Its new Mavic Air combines some of the very best features of the amazingly-popular Mavic Pro with the diminutive Spark. I’ve written up our . For serious photographers, I think the Mavic Pro still offers some big advantages, like more flight time, faster lens, and possibly more support for advanced video modes like D-Log (although the Air might also support those). Most of the fancy photography features of the new Air will help you get started quickly, but won’t do much for those of us who already shoot RAW and use Litchi for our panoramas. The 32MP built-in panorama mode certainly isn’t a match for custom panos like the one below I built out of 46 RAW images using Photoshop and Hugin.

New Hasselblad camera uses multi-shot to capture 400MP images

For those applications where you just can’t have too much resolution, the new Hasselblad H6D-400C MS may be just the thing. It uses the company’s 100MP sensor coupled with a body that can shift the sensor and lens mount tiny amounts to improve image quality and create a super-resolution image of 400MP. You can read more about it in the .

Holiday Savings on our 2018 Alaska Bear and African Wildlife Photo Safaris!

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year to all of our readers and clients. We’d like to help you celebrate with a special offer for savings on the last few openings we have for our wildlife photo safari to Botswana and South Africa in May, and our Alaskan Bear photo safaris in July. If you sign up by January 5th, we’ll give you 10% off – the largest discount we’ve ever offered – on either trip. Lorrie and I hope you can join us.

All trips feature small groups, personalized instruction, excellent accommodations, photographer-friendly transportation arrangements, and some of the very best wildlife photography you’ll find anywhere on the planet!

You can .

For more .

For more-effective Action photography, keep these settings at your fingertips

When photographers discuss the pros and cons of various format cameras, the focus is often on image quality and optics. But especially for shooting any type of action – whether it is sports, people, or ceremonial events – ergonomics can be just as important. In particular, by having a properly set up DSLR or mirrorless (I use Nikon models like my and , but you can do the same with Canon or Sony) I can keep these key functions literally at my finger tips:

Lenovo X1 Yoga (2nd gen) with OLED display: A Dream Ultrabook for Photographers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and Yoga 920 side by sideRegular readers will know that I’m partial to Dell’s XPS 15 as the Windows power laptop of choice. But it is 4.5 pounds and not going to fit into most messenger bags or lightweight daypacks. If you don’t absolutely need its discrete GPU, quad-core CPU, or 15+-inch screen, I can highly recommend the 3 pound Lenovo X1 Yoga (2nd gen), especially if you can afford the OLED display. I’ve been using one as my primary laptop for several weeks, and it did everything I needed, and did it effectively. That included not just processing RAW images from my , but running my 4K Video from my Mavic Pro through Premiere Pro and a set of color and noise reduction plugins.

If you pile on every option (high-end dual-core i7, high-resolution OLED display, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD), it is pricey at $2800 (currently discounted to just under $2600), but you’ll be getting an amazing machine. You can , along with my thoughts on it, its sister machine the Lenovo Yoga 920, and other .

Best practices for backing up your photos and videos

When lightning strikes -- David CardinalI get asked a lot about how I backup my images (and videos, now that I’m shooting more of them). So I finally wrote it down, along with alternatives that might better suit you, as your circumstances are likely to differ from mine in some way. It’s all . The essential element to whatever system you choose is to make sure it protects you against all, or at least most, of the issues that can arise. That includes disk “bit rot,” disk failure, controller or computer failure, human error, buggy backup software, and ultimately even major disasters that affect everything on premises.

Adobe updates Photoshop, goes cloud-first with newly-minted version of Lightroom CC

Adobe Lightroom CC 1.0 user interfaceAdobe rocked the world for many photographers with its cloud-first pivot on Lightroom announced at Adobe MAX 2017. The current CC version has been renamed "Lightroom Classic CC" and gets some performance bumps for loyal desktop-centric users. A new cloud-first version, the new "Lightroom CC" has rolled out. It has a similar UI to the current mobile versions of Lightroom -- a subset of the features found in the desktop version. It requires that all images sync to Adobe's Cloud, for which Adobe charges something extra. Not everyone is thrilled, though, and there is plenty of fear that this means Adobe will de-emphasize its power tools for serious photographers. Along with the new Lightroom, Adobe also made some solid upgrades to its Adobe Photoshop CC. You can .

DxO rescues the popular Nik Collection and rolls U-Points into new PhotoLab image editor

One of the sadder developments for serious photographers was the purchase of Nik Software by Google. It was done so that Google could leverage Nik’s Snapseed technology into its Photo offering. However, the excellent Nik tools were orphaned in the process. Now that has finally changed. DxO Labs, makers of OpticsPro, FilmPack, and ViewPoint, has acquired the entire Nik Collection. This will result in at least three pieces of good news for Nik fans:

 

Luminar by MacPhun (now Skylum) coming to Windows: Competition for Photoshop and Lightroom heats up

As a Windows user, I’ve only heard about MacPhun and their Luminar photo editor, but have never had a chance to use it. However, this fall I was able to start using their AuroraHDR product when they brought it to Windows, and have been very impressed. Now, the company (renamed Skylum) is bringing its flagship Luminar image editor to Windows, and it looks like it will be an exciting new entry in the desktop photo editing space. With a price point even less than Adobe Photoshop Elements, it provides a set of features that looks very similar to both Photoshop and the image editing portion of Lightroom. Mac users can try or purchase it now, by . Pre-orders for the Windows version will start on November 1st. I got a chance to use the beta and was very impressed by the interface and architecture. I’ll be doing a more complete review once the shipping version is available.

 

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens field tested: Wide-angle winner

While not as new or celebrated as its bigger sibling, the , the seemed like a worthy candidate to test with my new . After using it off and on for a few weeks, I’m impressed with its combination of features, image quality, and value. It delivers excellent results for a , compared to $2,000 for the .

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