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Review

Hands-on with new Loupedeck+: The quickest way to get faster with Adobe Lightroom adds Skylum and others

Adobe Lightroom is an amazing product. However, since the original interface was built for a simple RAW converter, more and more functionality has been squeezed into limited space. Lightroom Mobile, and to some extent the cloud-first Lightroom CC, have started to deal with this situation, but for traditional users of Lightroom Classic CC, it is just painful to find and adjust the endless variety of tiny sliders. Loupedeck aimed to fix that with a custom input device that was pre-mapped to allow instant access to dozens of popular Lightroom functions. The initial version was lauded for its functionality, but dinged by some for build quality and lack of support for other applications. The new addresses both of these shortcomings. I’ve been lucky enough to get a pre-release version to use, and so far I’m impressed…

Benq ScreenBar LED Monitor Light: A great addition to any studio computer

One of the first pieces of advice for anyone doing serious image editing or color correction gets is to keep your working area fairly dark. That provides the best environment for accurate assessment of on-screen colors. Unfortunately, that can also make it hard to see the things you need to see that aren’t on the screen. That includes your keyboard (unless you are an awesome typist), other accessories like a LoupeDeck, or even proof prints that need to be compared to the displayed image. There are a number of lights on the market that are designed to address this shortcoming, but monitor-maker Benq has just released its one of the nicest. I’ve been using one for a couple months and am happy to share my experiences.

MindShift Exposure 15 Field-tested: A Bag for Both City and Country Mice

Shoulder bags for photographers tend to be aimed at either photojournalists or hip street shooters. They come in a number of really attractive designs, including two of my favorites, the and the . However, they’re not designed for extended outdoor use in rough conditions. In contrast, many of the great bags and backpacks for wildlife and sports photographers are anything but stylish, and are often not that practical in confined urban settings. So I was very excited when Think Tank introduced the new and . The Exposure series offers serious weatherproofing (even without using the rain cover), room for a good amount of gear and a laptop, and is stylish enough that they’re at home just about anywhere you’d take your camera. I took an Exposure 15 along on our recent photo safari to Africa, where it did double duty as my computer bag around the camps, and as my all purpose shooting bag when we were touring in Johannesburg and Cape Town…

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 .

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 .

Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 2018 and Premiere Elements 2018 with lots more AI under the hood

If you want an all-in-one image management, image processing, and video editing suite, Adobe’s Elements has long been a leading contender. With its new 2018 version, Adobe has piled on a lot more AI-based features, including Auto Curate, a literal “eye-opener” for portraits, and some spiffy automated video editing tools. You can read more in my full review on Extremetech, or just go ahead and snag the suite of both ($120 for upgraders through Adobe), or just ($79 for upgraders through Adobe).

Flying a Mavic Pro with Epson's Moverio BT-300FPV Drone Edition AR glasses

The author flying a Mavic Pro using MoverioI’ve had a lot of fun feeling like I’m personally piloting my Mavic Pro when I control it using Epson’s Drone Edition of their popular Moverio BT-300FPV glasses. It’s an expensive accessory, and has a few teething problems, but it does provide a unique and pretty-compelling experience. You can read my full review and see a video of me using one in .

Think Tank StreetWalker Rolling Backpack 2.0 field tested: Airport-friendly photo backpack

Adjustable dividers allow a customized fit for your DSLR or Mirrorless gearI love using my Think Tank when shooting from a vehicle, like a safari truck in Africa, or a boat in Alaska, or even from a blind in Texas. With room for both my photo gear and my 15-inch laptop, it is one of the most-versatile photo backpacks on the market. But lugging it through airports, especially on the super-long walks we often face on international connections, is painful. So I was quite excited when Think Tank released a Roller version. I used a as my backpack in Alaska, and it did everything I wanted.

 

MindShift PhotoCross 13: A great sling-style bag for working in the field with a camera or drone

MindShift Gear PhotoCross 13 Sling Bag (Orange Ember)Photo backpacks are great for carrying gear, but they have one major drawback. They’re inconvenient to work with in situations where you don’t have the time or space to set them down. For that reason, I’ve always made sure that some type of sling or messenger bag was part of my arsenal. So I was excited to learn about the upcoming . I was fortunate enough to get an early version to take with me on my Alaska bear photo safaris and put it through its paces…

Nikon D7500 field tested: A winner DSLR for mid-range budgets

Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera (Body Only)Like almost every pro Nikon shooter, I’m eagerly awaiting the new Nikon D850. In the meantime, I needed an updated backup camera for my . I wanted one good enough to use for “pro” work, but small and light enough that I could easily carry it in a messenger bag with my drone for field work. I’d already shot with the Nikon D500 and , which are both excellent cameras, but decided to be a little more adventurous and purchase the newer , that fits many of the features of the into a smaller, less-expensive, package.

Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens field test: Excellent value in a lightweight telephoto zoom

Nikon and Canon’s long glass may be getting slightly lighter over the years, but those flagship lenses are also getting incredibly expensive. Fortunately there is a crop of third party value-priced lenses that have arrived to help out consumers. We’ve reviewed several of them in the past, like the , , and , but until now hadn’t gotten the chance to take the lighter-weight of Sigmas two superzooms, the into the field. Our annual Alaska bear & puffin photo safari was the perfect opportunity. Two weeks of mid-range use for the bears coupled with longer-range use with the Puffins gave me a chance to put the lens through its paces.

Think Tank's Turnstyle 20 v2.0: The perfect day pack for your DJI Mavic Pro

Now that I’m doing more drone photography and videography, I needed a good way to travel with my drones. There are some really sweet hard cases, , but unless you’re working out of a vehicle its pretty heavy and bulky. Since many of the great drone locations are best reached by hiking or biking, I wanted something light and convenient, that would also hold my tablet and tablet mount.

Sony a6500 tested: Solid upgrade for top of the line compact mirrorless

Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)One after another Sony has been knocking down the barriers for those considering switching from full-size DSLRs to smaller, mirrorless, APS-C cameras. Better autofocus, high frame rates, and an increasing selection of lenses for its E-mount make the Sony a6000 family an excellent choice. Image quality is also highly competitive, as you’d expect from the company that makes sensors for much of the industry. One of the few remaining Achilles Heels has been its control and menu system, which have been hard to like. That was our biggest beef when we . With our recent field test of the newer we can confirm that Sony has made progress on the camera’s interface, but it is still more quirky than we’d like.

Best laptops for Photo Editing

I’ve just updated my guide to some of the , so it is current with the latest models. Not a huge amount has changed since it was last updated 6 months ago, but more models now have Nvidia 10xx (instead of 9xx) GPUs, which is a sizable jump, and now many of them have 7th generation Core CPUs (Kaby Lake). There are also gains in performance, some decreases in size, and ports moving towards newer standards. One important development on the horizon is Nvidia’s new “Max-Q” laptop architecture, which will enable thinner models with discrete GPUs. Those should start showing up in the market by July. Their primary focus is gaming, but as always, gaming laptops can be ideal for image processing.

Serious photography fun with DJI Mavic Pro portable drone

I’ve been having a blast with my DJI Mavic Pro drones. They are amazing pieces of technology, and DJI has packed most of the best features of the much-larger Phantom drones into this folding version. I’ll be writing a lot more about using drones for both fun and serious photo and video projects, but if you’re curious about what’s possible, I’ve written up my first experiences and notes in an . When you’re ready to fly, you can pick up a , or get a more .

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