Countdown to Black Friday deals


My little Black Friday watch page

I will add any Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals & coupons I hear about them to this page.
Stay Tuned!


 

Adobe is first out of the gate!

With their 25% off CC “All APPs” package, Black Friday promotion, valid until November 23


Graph Paper Press

has  25% off coupon for their paid themes

Graph Paper Press WordPress themes

Graph Paper Press is a small team of web designers and developers based in Brooklyn, NY who build graphically minimal WordPress themes for photographers, artists and entrepreneurs. Their content-rich designs allow you to create a blog, build a portfolio and sell your photography or artwork online in one place! They offer a variety of free WordPress themes and premium WordPress themes that cater specifically to the needs of creatives. Getting started is easy:

  1. Register an account with Graph Paper Press.
  2. Browse and find a theme you love!
  3. Download it and follow the installation instructions!

Effortless Customization

Graph Paper Press has dozens of WordPress themes and plugins that are both easy to use and customize. Their themes allow you to change fonts, colors, backgrounds, headers, menus, insert logos and create slideshows so that your site is exactly what you want it to be.

E-Commerce Ready

Graph Paper Press also makes a free plugin called Sell Media that allows you to sell photos, prints and other media directly through your WordPress site. Coupled with its many extensions, Sell Media becomes an easy platform through which you can track sales, calculate commissions, protect your work and connect with your customers. It’s a sure-fire way to create and manage a photography business through WordPress. Install Sell Media and voila! You’re running a business!

Final Words…

Sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s okay. Graph Paper Press offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all of their products.

Use this coupon code and save 25%

SAVE25TODAY

Get Started Now

Topaz AI Gigapixel evaluation & comparison with CC

What it is

Topaz AI Gigapixel is a standalone program designed to massively increase the dimension size of image files.
Using Artificial  intelligence to fill in areas with more details than actually exists.

The Topaz AI GigaPixel Interface

GigaPixel v2.0 Interface

GigaPixel v2.0 Interface

Equipment and observations

Machine used for the tests was an Intel I7 with 32Gb ram,  a Radeon R9 4gb video card, and SSDs.

    • Both programs produced identical dimensions for each upsize size selected, except at 600% where Adobe calculated a slightly larger pixel count on some images.
    • Files from PhotoShop CC were significantly smaller, Adobe saving as JPG 12 (Best), AI GigaPixel saving as “Maximum”.
    • While upsize processing total CPU was at 3%, while the GPU (3d) cores were at 100%  and total GPU memory usage was at 2.6Gb
    • While file saving total CPU was at 16% and GPU was at 0% (expected)
    • GigaPixel 2.0 took 3 to 4 times longer than Photoshop CC to output the 600% up-size.
    • To my eye Topaz AI GigaPixel did produce cleaner images at the higher up-size amounts.

File Size tests

Original image dimensions 5616×3744  jpg file Size 7,143kb

gigapixel vs Photoshop file size test

ProgramUpsize DimensionFile Size
Photoshop CC 150% 8424x5616 10,808kb
GigaPixel AI 150% 8424x5616 14,493kb
Photoshop CC 200% 11232x748816,802kb
GigaPixel AI 200% 11232x7488 23,337kb
Photoshop CC 400% 22464x14976 49,101kb
GigaPixel AI 400% 22464x14976 101,353kb
Photoshop CC 600% 33696x22464 83,490kb
GigaPixel AI 600% 32000x21344 169,929kb
gigapixel vs Photoshop test

Large 8bit JPG test

(This is the image that was used for the above upsize file size tests)

before/after

Gray Jay original jpgGray Jay gigapixel 600%

Gigapixel vs Photoshop

Gray Jay gigapixel 600%Gray Jay adobe 600%

Large 16bit TIF file test

600 percent, scale increase

DRAGON-1 originalGigaPixel-2.0 DRAGON-1 600%

Input file 16bit TIF Dimensions: 3183px x 3183px  Size on disk: 59,394kb
Output files 16bit TIF (LZW compression) Dimensions 19098px x 19098px
Size on disk:

  • GigaPixel 1.0 – 2,671,240kb
  • GigaPixel 2.0 – 1,984,796kb
  • Adobe CC – 2,660,078kb

 

Small file test

Original image

Taken with a Canon 70-200 f/4 L lens at 200mm on a 7d mkII body.  Handheld @  f/8, 1/200, iso 200.  Size 5472px x 3648px

Original long shot of bird in field

Original long shot of bird in field

 

small crop area for gigapixel test

small crop area for gigapixel test

 

small 954x954 cropped area

small 954px x 954px  cropped area

 

Drag the bar to reveal more of each sample,
drag Right to reveal more of the Topaz AI GigaPixel sample and Left to reveal more of the Photoshop CC sample.

GigaPixel-2.0 600% strongAdobe 600percent output
GigaPixel-2.0 600% head comparisonAdobe 600percent head comparison

Initially the 600% upsized images from both Adobe Photoshop CC and Topaz AI GigaPixel look almost the same
but upon closer inspection of the bird head it does appear that Topaz AI GigaPixel did manage to produce a sharper looking image.

Availability and cost.

You can get your own copy of Topaz AI Gigapixel at https://topazlabs.com/ai-gigapixel/ref/32/ref/123/
Topaz AI Gigapixel is currently being retailed for 99$us.

Final  Thoughts

AI Gigapixel is two sides of an axe,
It has a good side and a very bad side.

On the good side it can massively expand an image file to product large prints,  if for instance you had to crop a lot in to a scene to produce a good composition.
On the  bad side is it now makes it very difficult to post anything on-line to social media that cannot be stolen and used to produce usable large prints.
We tested in on a random FaceBook image that when downloaded (stolen) produced a tiny 3*3 print about 900*900px in size.
With AI-gigapixel we re-generated it at 600% up-size and produced a 36*32 print  out of it, that looked surprisingly exceptionally good.
That got me worried as an image maker and is why I have not tried to push that particular product till now.

Revelations:

I do not own Topaz AI Gigapixel, I used a beta/trial version for my tests.
I am a Topaz affiliate and use affiliate links.

Top 10 Software I use for editing

disks & thumbs storage

disks & thumbs storage

These are the TOP 10 software packages I currently use for my image and video editing and the hardware I use to run them on.

Surprisingly six of the ten programs can be had FREE for non-commercial use!
While four are paid or subscription model products.

Links to all the applications both free and paid are at the bottom of page.

The Software

What I edit still images with:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Creative Cloud Photoshop
  • Skylum Luminar 2018 (Jupiter update!)
  • Topaz Studio
  • Microsoft ICE
  • Picolay

Image developer and catalog
Image editor
Image developer
Still image artistic effects
stitches panoramas
Focus stacker by Heribert Cypionka

 

 

 

 

 

My image catalog database is currently

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Lightroom  (Image developer and catalog)

 

What I try to bash together videos with:

  • Blackmagic DaVnci Resolve 15
  • Adobe Premier Elements 9
  • Handbrake
  • Audacity

Insanely powerful video and audio editor
video editor lite
video converter
audio editor

Note: A hiccup with the current Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 15 b3 and now b5 in some modules causes GPU out of memory condition,
Correction: hiccup appears fixed with the final GA release of DaVinci Resolve 15 now available!

The Hardware

The Monitors

  • ASUS ProArt PA248 (Main image editing display)
  • Samsung SyncMaster BX2350 (Text and control panels)

 

The eater of bits

  • Custom built Intel I7 system with
    • 32Gb RAM
    • 250Gb SSD + 500Gb SSD + 4Tb sata3 + 2 * 1Tb sata2 internal drives
    • Radeon R9 4Gb video card with 3 hdmi/dvi outputs
  • Wacom Intuos 3 9*12 tablet
  • Spyder Pro  (colorimeter)

 

Backup & Stability

  • Acronis TruImage 2018 (data backup)
  • A random array of Western Digital external drives (backup medium, on and offsite)
  • Apc UPS units (power stabilization)

 

Here are the links to all the products if you want to get any them

(Full disclosure:  I do use affiliate links for some products,   you do not need to use them)

Paid/subscription

Adobe Photography bundle includes both Lightroom & Photoshop for $9.99us/month at
Skylum Luminar is available for 99$Cdn at http://bit.ly/luminarpp
Adobe Premier Elements is available from Amazon here  Adobe Premiere Elements 2018
Acronis TruImage 2018 for 29.99$us (search the web for discount coupons!) at http://bit.ly/Acronispp

Free!

The following six products I use can all be downloaded and used for free!

BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve 15 (video/audio editor) for free at http://bit.ly/resolvepp       (non commercial use)
Topaz Studio for free at http://bit.ly/Topazst          (Pro adjustment packs are at extra cost, if you want them.)
Microsoft ICE (Panorama stitcher) for free at http://bit.ly/msICEpp
Picolay (Focus stacker) for free at http://bit.ly/picolay
Handbrake (video converter) https://handbrake.fr/
Audacity (audio editor) for free at http://bit.ly/audaditypp

Bonus

qDslrDashboard (remote camera control)  for free win/mac and paid app for android/ios at  http://bit.ly/2IVppWf
Wired and wireless camera control, timelapse with bramping, focus stacking, quite a powerful package.

5 mic shootout

Here’s my comparison of 5 different relatively inexpensive (under 200$cdn) mic options.

Over time as I started to make videos I found the sound quality was bugging me.
So I embarked on a mini-quest to improve on the audio I was capturing.
Eventually ending up with four external mics and the internal camera mic
(I also have a few studio mics but that is for another time.)

Here is a video I made while recording from all 5 sources at the same time in a couple of different locations..
(Editing that into a single video was quite a chore!)

Summary of my findings

Camera  Internal mic

Cost: free, built in to most cameras.
Power: internal camera battery
Pros: free, always have it with you.
Cons: usually terrible poor quality sound, picks up wind, environment and even camera internal operating noises.

 

Apex 182

Cost: runs around 20$us/26$cdn
Power: none.
Pros: Needs no battery, and is stereo, very inexpensive.
Cons: no easy way to clip it to anything. output levels are low.

 

Audio-Technica ATR3350

Cost: runs around 29$us/50$cdn
Power: needs a LR44 type battery that lasts about 10-15 hours.
Pros: cheap, not bad sound
Cons: no battery life indicator, you never know if it has quit on you.
excessively 6 meter/20 foot long ever tangle cord.

 

RØDE smartlav+

Cost: runs around 89$us/99$cdn
Pros: powers itself from the recording device (needs to be compatible), small easily placed.
Cons:  None, it does need a RØDE SC3 3.5mm TRRS to TRS Adapter to connect to recorders instead of smartphones
Hint:  A kit with the lav and adapter can sometimes be found for almost same price as lav by itself, much more expensive if bought separately

RØDE VideoMic

Cost: runs around 150$us/189$cdn
Power: standard 9v battery
Pros: good quality construction, uses standard easy to find 9v battery
Cons: large and needs to be camera mounted, can pick up unwanted directional background sounds.

 

Links

To my top product picks (yes they are affiliate links!).

RØDE SmartLav+
Adorama http://bit.ly/2vxfjXH

RØDE SC3 trrs to trs adapter
Adorama  http://bit.ly/2KHMe0j

RØDE SmartLav+ and trrs to trs bundle!
Adorama

Zoom H1n
Adorama http://bit.ly/2vAYI56

RØDE VideoMic
Adorama  http://bit.ly/2KFQr4M

Dead Cat 
Adorama

Topaz Labs 40% off Spring sale

Topaz Labs 40% off Spring sale at their stores

Sale ends Monday May 7th,
Last chance to get 40% off store wide, no coupon code needed!

For Topaz Lab plugins just follow this link Topaz Labs Plugins Spring sale!
The 40% offer includes “The complete collection” that is normally already 50% off!

For Topaz Labs Studio Adjustments just follow this link Topaz Labs Studio Adjustments Spring sale!
The 40% offer includes “The GoPro colleection” that is normally already 50% off!

Discount should be automatically applied when you confirm purchase
(note that because this is an auto-coupon it is not compatible with another coupons.)

(Full disclosure:  I do use affiliate links, you do not need to use them to get the discounts if you so chose!)

Having some fun with some flowers and a few Topaz Studio adjustments

fun with flowers

Welcome Adobe to the fold

Adobe Authorized Affiliate

Adobe Authorized Affiliate

Just a quick post to welcome Adobe to my Affiliate fold!

I”ve been using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom since their initial versions and am super pleased to join with them as an affiliate.

Camera backpack and bags

Early gathering of my bag farm as it was in 2012

Early gathering of my bag farm as it was in 2012

The camera backpack and bag farm

As requirements and needs change over time one accumulates a variety of camera bags in search of that “perfect” one “does it all” bag that does not exist!

I dragged them all out in, took a photo of the bag family, and cataloged them all, yes bad weather stinks again, so am bored. (going to have to take a new updated photo some day, there are a half dozen or so new addition since this one was taken.)

These are the lists of the currently high use bags that head out with me, and a list of the entire bag family.

Lowepro seems to be the preferred go-to manufacturer for soft bags, in all my decades of use their products have never let me down!
Though the ThinkTank Retrospective 7 has become a favorite for city wanderings and air travel.
And Pelican (they also make Storm) for my hard shell cases.

I have replaced both the old LowePro Photo Trekker Classic and Slingshot 300 AW backpacks with a newer design Lowepro Flipside 400 AW backpack. Hoping for lighter weight and less stress on an easy to malfunction shoulder.

My current in use bags

Manufacturer Product Usage
ThinkTank Retrospective 7 day hiking, city wandering / urban exploration, travel carry-on
LowePro Flipside AW 400 field kit, day hiking
Kata-bags MarvelX-40DL Sony nex5r vlogging camera
LowePro S&F Filter Pouch 100 Filter's and holder
LowePro S&F Lens Exchange 200 AW FlipSide add-on
LowePro EX 180 “Strobist” lighting kit
Gitzo GC3100 Series 3 Tripod Bag vehicle tripod transport
Benro AC1046 Tripod Bag vehicle tripod transport
Pelican 1520 case vehicle gear transport
LowePro Stealth reporter D400 AW events
LowePro Photo Trekker Classic heavy field kit
LowePro Fastpack 200 wife's taken it for her kit

The entire bag farm

Manufacturer Product Usage
Benro AC1046 Tripod Bag vehicle tripod transport
Gitzo GC3100 Series 3 Tripod Bag vehicle tripod transport
Kata-bags MarvelX-40DL Sony nex5r vlogging camera
LowePro Flipside AW 400 field kit, day hiking
LowePro S&F Lens Exchange 200 AW FlipSide add-on
LowePro Orion AW currently unused/storage
LowePro Orion currently unused/storage
LowePro Toploader day trips to big city
LowePro Trimtech Odyssey currently unused/storage
LowePro Mini Mag P currently unused/storage
LowePro Orion Trekker II currently unused/storage
LowePro Fastpack 200 wife's taken it for her kit
LowePro Slingshot 300 AW currently unused, shoulder issue make it problematic
LowePro Stealth reporter D400 AW events
LowePro EX 180 “Strobist” lighting kit
LowePro Photo Trekker Classic heavy field kit
LowePro Film organizer AW Whats FIlm ???
LowePro D-pods 30 point&shoot
LowePro D-Res 20AW camcorder
Pelican 1520 case vehicle gear transport
Pelican 1300 case kayaking - dslr
Storm 3 model 2500 kayaking - P&S
Storm keycase kayaking - car keys
Sigma EX 120-300 case came with lens
Sigma EX 150 macro case came with lens
Tamrac Adventure 4 won as door prize
ThinkTank Retrospective 7 day hiking, city wandering / urban exploration, travel carry-on

DSLR a brief history of prices, rising?

Palantir See All mystic DSLR

Palantir See All, the mystic DSLR

Are camera DSLR body costs rising, stable or falling?

To answer that question I took a look into the past. Checking in on the mid level bodies from Canon since the introduction of the venerable 3.1 megapixel D30 way back in 2000.

I created a table of a brief history of Canon DSLR introduction dates and their pricing at the time of introduction.
Not including the top end 1D series and low end Rebel series.
Basically cut the top and bottom off,  just looking at the middle so called prosumer level bodies.

The table lists the Canon DSLR “Manufacturer Suggester Retail Prices” in the USA at time of their announcements.
Which surprisingly seems to have remained fairly stable over the years for each series of bodies.

If you factor in the ever rising inflation rate the actual cost of the bodies has in fact been slightly decreasing! Right along with the decreasing buying power of the mighty dollar as the years advance.

Body Month Year Suggested Price Megapixels Processor
D30May2000 MSRP US$3,500 3.1mp -
D60February2002 MSRP US$2,199 6.3mp -
10DFebruary2003 MSRP US$1,499 6.3mpDIGIC
20DAugust2004 MSRP US$1,499 8.2mpDIGIC ii
30DFebruary2006 MSRP US$1,399 8.2mpDIGIC ii
40DAugust2007 MSRP US$1,299 10.2mpDIGIC iii
50DAugust2008 MSRP US$1,399 15.2mpDIGIC 4
60DAugust2010 MSRP US$1,099 18.0mpDIGIC 4
70DJuly2013 MSRP US$1,199 20.2mpDIGIC 5+
80DFebruary2016 MSRP US$1,199 24.2mpDIGIC 6
series-----
77DFebruary2017 MSRP US$899 24.2mpDIGIC 7
series-----
7DSeptember2009 MSRP US$1,699 18.0mpdual DIGIC 4
7D mkiiSeptember2014 MSRP US$1,799 20.2mpdual DIGIC 6
series-----
6DSeptember2012 MSRP US$2,099 20.2mpDIGIC 5+
6D mkiiJune2017 MSRP US$1,999 26.2mpDIGIC 7
series-----
5DAugust2005 MSRP US$3,299 12.8mpDIGIC ii
5D mkiiSeptember2008 MSRP US$2,699 21.1mpDIGIC 4
5D mkiiiMarch2012 MSRP US$3,299 22.3mpDIGIC 5+
5D mkiv August2016 MSRP US$3,499 30.1mpDIGIC 6+
series-----
5DSFebruary2015 MSRP US$3,699 50.6mpdual DIGIC 6
5DSrFebruary2016 MSRP US$3,899 50.6mpdual DIGIC 6