Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Digital Photography Tips from a Savvy Lady

My wife is a fan of Martha Stewart. Linda subscribes to Martha’s magazine, Martha Stewart Living, follows several of her blogs, and makes many of her purchases based on Martha’s advise --as do millions of other women in America. This is one savvy woman.

So, when Linda showed me Martha’s digital photography equipment recommendations from her monthly lead article ("From My Home to Yours") in the November 2010 issue of Living, I was “forced” to take notice. But my macho skepticism turned to respect when I noticed that much of her equipment, and the reasons for using each item was similar to what I was already doing in my professional work. I concluded this woman either has good judgment or great advisers, or both; and making me want to consider the other things I was missing in my own workflow.

Cameras: Martha takes over 2,000 photos every month. Storing, keeping track, and sharing from that many images can be a daunting task without the proper equipment and software. Stewart never leaves home without a camera. She uses three cameras away from home: the cameras in her phone and BlackBerry, and a Canon PowerShot G11 (about $500). The first two are mainly for recording ideas. The PowerShot is used when the image might be published in a blog or in print. This professional camera carries a lot of resolution and punch in a small package. She always keeps it in her handbag. It is considerably smaller than the 4th camera Martha uses at home in her converted garage studio: the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens (about $3,300). This last combination gives her astonishing detail in close-ups and wide-angle shots.

I personally use the 5D Mark II as my highest quality digital camera and love it, but I have not used the PowerShot. Many professionals and serious amateurs use the it for location work because it is a compact hybrid that combines features from both the high-end professional DSLR’s and the compact point-and-shoot cameras. Similar to a DSLR. the PowerShot employs a large digital sensor that greatly reduces digital noise and increases image quality. Like point-and-shoot cameras, the PowerShot has a built in, non-interchangable lens (eliminating fumbling with lenses and dust on the image sensor). Unlike PnS cameras, the PowerShot can capture RAW image files for better post processing capabilities. When shooting in bright sun or fast action situations, you’ll also love the option of having an eye-level optical viewfinder, even though it has an amazing Vari-angle LCD.

Scanner: Stewart is currently in the process of digitizing all her print photos, many of which that cannot fit onto a standard size scanner, so she uses the large-format Epson Expression 10000XL scanner (about $2,500). This scanner will handle anything up to 12.2” x 17.2”. It is a fast scanner that produces crisp and accurate images. (As a consultant, I have recommended this scanner to many of my clients, including my neighbor, who uses it in her in-home inkjet printing business.)

Digital Storage: Like Martha, I also use Data Robotics’ Drobo to archive and backup all my digital images. Stewart uses the Drobo FS (about $700) because it allows Gigabit Ethernet network access to all her images. This hard-drive system can hold up to 10 terabytes of data. The Drobo system is extremely dependable and expandable. This is probably the best investment I ever made to protect and organize my digital images.

Image Printing: I’ve used Epson ink jet printers almost exclusively for over 15 years now. Martha currently uses the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 (about $800 --under $500 with current mail-in rebate) to make printouts for her friends and family, and to display in her company’s offices. The R2880 is a professional-quality printer that produces exhibition quality archival prints up to 13” x 19”. (Here’s a PC Magazine review on the R2880.)

Sharing and Showcasing images on the road: One of Martha’s favorite ways of showcasing her images when she’s on the road is via her Apple iPad (about $500). I bought my wife the iPad for her birthday when they first came out, and it’s been her favorite “toy”! It’s brilliant display and intuitive interface make it favorite way to show off my images to friends and clients --when I can get it away from Linda!

Posted by Royce Bair on 12/08 at 06:10 AM

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