Arri's new surgical microscope shows that large sensors aren't just for cameras

If you know the name Arri, it is probably from their century-long dominance of the cinema camera industry. However, now it is bringing its famous Alexa image sensor to the industry’s first all-digital surgical microscope – aptly named the ARRISCOPE. I got a chance to use one of the prototypes when the team brought the beast to Stanford for a talk this week. It is indeed impressive. You can learn more about it by reading the .

Hands-on with Moshi's new wireless Vortex Air premium earbuds

With the disappearance of headphone jacks on an increasing number of smartphones, wireless earbuds have become more than just a convenience feature. That means a difficult tradeoff for audio designers between accommodating the limited battery capacity and providing high-quality sound. These tiny devices also need to support drop-free Bluetooth connectivity and streaming. Moshi, which is known for its fashion-forward accessories, , and headphones, has entered the market with two cleverly-designed models. The less-expensive Mythro Air and the Vortex Air – which we’ve been testing.

Adobe brings pro-friendly RAW HDR capture to Lightroom Mobile

Until now, HDR capture on smartphones has been an under-the-covers merging of several frames in a fairly simple way by the phone itself. Now, Lightroom Mobile offers pro-grade HDR for supported phones. The app’s camera mode will analyze the scene, decide on the needed bracketing, capture the images in RAW mode, and then combine and tonemap them into a 32-bit floating-point DNG RAW file – allowing full HDR editing. This is pretty amazing when you consider that typically a similar workflow involves bracketing on a high-end camera, and the use of specialized software applications to do the merge and tone mapping. It works on the Apple iPhone 6s and later, Samsung Galaxy 7 and 7 edge, and Google’s Pixel family of phones. For users of other phones, there are still some goodies packed into the new version of Lightroom mobile:

SmartDesk 2: Finally, an affordable, automated, stand-sit desk for your studio

For years its been known that working standing up – at least part of the time – can be good for your back. As photographers, most of us work standing up quite a bit. But unlike when shooting film and spending nights in the darkroom, many of us spend long days on the computer, and it is all too easy to not move around or stand up enough. There are a number of very nice motorized desks on the market, but they have typically cost as much as your DSLR. Not everyone can, or wants to, afford that. So it is with great interest that we’ve been watching the rollout of Autonomous.ai’s new SmartDesk 2. The company has been selling SmartDesks for a couple years, but version 2 has some significant changes – including better-built motors and controls. We’ve been testing the dual-motor Business Edition.

Arcus from Moshi: A backpack for the fashion-forward photographer

I have amassed quite a collection of photo backpacks over the years, in all shapes and sizes. Most are purely functional, and even those that look good, like my , clearly define themselves with functionality first. So I was very curious when Moshi, known for their fashionable accessories, asked me to test out their new Arcus backpack prior to launch at CES. I was impressed that while it is stylish, it could also fit my laptop, tablet, phone, paperwork, jacket, and camera with two lenses. So I was happy to give it a try. What I found was a pack that will make a lot of consumers happy, although it may not be rugged enough for most professionals.

Fujifilm X-Pro2: Retro camera for those with Leica envy

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)Right from the first look the screams retro, and reminds one of a Leica. Its square-shaped, solid-metal, body, with large control dials on top is a definite throwback. At first blush, so is the Rangefinder (which under the hood turns out to be a lot more than that). As with Leica, a carefully-curated selection of high-performance lenses complement the camera itself. The design may be retro, and a few of the features, but the Fuji X-Pro 2 packs a punch when it comes to the latest technology, features, and premium image quality. You won't be sacrificing anything in those areas by moving to one.

Looking for a Photoshop alternative: $40 for Affinity Photo is your best option

For photographers looking for an alternative to Photoshop, that want all the power it provides and aren’t satisfied with the more limited processing capabilities of or , there haven’t been too many alternatives. The best options to date have been , Gimp, or perhaps Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector. Now though, Affinity has dramatically improved the capabilities of its Photo product and has also made it available on both Mac and Windows. For the value price of $40, you can have a product that does almost all of what Photoshop does, and many things it doesn’t. I’ve taken it for a spin and enjoyed using it. You can read my .

Samsung Gear 360: Excellent image quality in an awkward package

Samsung Gear 360 Spherical VR CameraThis year has seen the first consumer-friendly 360-degree cameras capable of 4K video capture. 4K or better resolution is much more important for 360-degree cameras than for traditional models, because those 4,000 x 2,000 pixels have to cover a full 360-degrees of the scene. The best known of these cameras is Samsung's Gear 360, so we took one out for a spin to see if it is indeed a worthy upgrade to the Ricoh Theta S that we reviewed earlier in the year. In short, it is a solid step up in output quality, but at the cost of a somewhat-awkward form factor. Keep in mind that to use the full features of the you need to pair it with a Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S7, S7 Edge, or Note 5. It’s bundled software is also Windows-only.

Datacolor offers slick new Plus package for the Spyder5

SpyderLENSCALI hope most of you are already using a hardware-calibrated, color-managed, workflow for your photography. As you know, my favorite solution is the from Datacolor. Now Datacolor is offering a slick upgrade for users that includes some really impressive features. It’s new “+” Pack adds 1-click calibration, automatic room-light-level brightness switching, and improved profile management. The Elite version of “+” also adds support for soft proofing, and an improved version of StudioMatch.

Our Holiday Travel and Tech Gift Guide

We're entering holiday gift season, and if you're like me, there are always a couple people that are hard to shop for. So we wanted to pass along my top travel and photo accessories, in case one of them would help fill the bill. Some are awesome for just about anyone who travels, and others are especially useful for photographers.

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