Picture Snob

April 30, 2008

Olympus 850 SW: It's all about the color

olympus_850SW.pngThe Olympus 850 SW is a more pedestrian version of the previously reviewed Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. Besides coming in colors reminiscent of an ink cartridge this camera is shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof. You're paying for that durability so you better bang it around. Amazon has got it for $249.99. Additional stats:

- 8 megapixel
- 1.5-inch LCD screen
- 3x optical zoom
- shoots video
- shockproof, freezeproof, waterproof

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 29, 2008

Sony's Foam City


Hello foam, hello Sony. This is the latest ad launching Sony's newest digital camera and camcorder lines. Can you imaging making this ad? Wheeeee!

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 28, 2008

Digital Photo Frame and iPod Dock: Mustek PF i700

mustek_ipodframe.jpgNow this could work. Why have a digital photo frame AND an iPod dock when you can squish them together into one? This debuted at CES 2008 but now you can actually purchase it -- Amazon's got it for $106.16. So, stick your iPod in the dock and select the music you'd like to enjoy with your photo display. Here are the stats, it's a simple device:

- 7-inch display (480x234)
- Video and music playback
- iPod dock charges iPod
- Multilanguage support (8 languages)

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 25, 2008

Battle of the Photo Books: Blurb's the Best for Creativity

blurb.pngThis week we're looking at some key photo book services: Apple, Blurb and Lulu. We've written a bit about Apple already, but it's time to look at these three together. All three companies share a similar quality of printing and even pricing, but the way you build your photo book and the customization options are different.

How You Build the Book: Blurb BookSmart

First you sign up as a user and then they dub you a "Blurbarian" -- heh heh. Then download their bookmaking software, Blurb BookSmart. It's free and works on Mac & PC. BookSmart can tap right into your photo albums in iPhoto, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa and SmugMug. The interface is great -- intuitive and filled with options. Things are relatively speedy too, since it's all done on your desktop.

Extra Features:
Blurb has a community (of Blurbarians) where you can share and sell your books. From a single glance you can see that it's made up of many photographers showcasing their work, which is a nice testament to quality and design -- that your identity could come through in the Blurb setting. There are many design themes here: cookbooks, journals, text books.

ArrowContinue reading: "Battle of the Photo Books: Blurb's the Best for Creativity"

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 25, 2008

flickr Friday: Santa Clara's Ruins

flickr_santaclara.jpgAn interesting negative space shot of Santa Clara's Ruins in Antigua, Guatemala. Shot with the Sony HSC-H9 -- Sony CyberShots is a great line of cameras, but check out the newest model DSC-H50 to get more megapixels. And you can see more of Bomba Rosa's work at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 24, 2008

Battle of the Photo Books: Apple is a Simple, Integrated Option for Mac Users

applebooks.pngThis week we're looking at some key photo book services: Apple, Blurb and Lulu. We've written a bit about Apple already, but it's time to look at these three together. All three companies share a similar quality of printing and even pricing, but the way you build your photo book and the customization options are different.

How You Build the Book: iPhoto on a Mac Computer
First, you must have a Mac computer. Second, you must have iPhoto (it comes with the operating system). Third, you probably want to make sure you have the latest version of iPhoto (purchase iLife for $69.99) because they update book templates and functionality. Once you've got all that covered, you can make your photo book. What's handy about this is that iPhoto is also where you store and edit your photos and create albums, so there's no journey from photo organization/storage to the book, it's all right there. Ahh. The software is fairly intuitive, but do mind these tips to get the best results.

Extra Features:
There's nothing really extra here other than that you've got one integrated system in iPhoto -- it is here that you store, edit, organize and can then, with literally a click, create a book, order prints, send to email, create a web gallery, etc. It's a handy one-stop-shop for Mac-a-holics.

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Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 23, 2008

Battle of the Photo Books: Lulu is Comprehensive but Clunky

lulu.pngThis week we're looking at some key photo book services: Apple, Blurb and Lulu. We've written a bit about Apple already, but it's time to look at these three together. All three companies share a similar quality of printing and even pricing, but the way you build your photo book and the customization options are different.

How You Build the Book: Lulu Studio
First you sign up as a user (painless). You use Lulu Studio via the web to create your book. This application uses the latest version of Flash. Lulu Studio is intuitive but can be a little slow since it's dependent on your web connection. A great feature is that you can batch upload images. If you have ever considered your computer or internet connection to be "slow" this will probably be a frustrating way to make a photo book. It does allow you to save your books and switch themes in the middle of a design.

Extra Features:
The cool thing is that you can publish your book to the Lulu community and sell it there. This is great for exhibitionists, but also useful if you say, made a photo book of a friend's wedding and wanted other guests to be able to purchase it. Lulu has also partnered with some Universities and offers access to their logos and themed books.

ArrowContinue reading: "Battle of the Photo Books: Lulu is Comprehensive but Clunky"

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 22, 2008

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50S Wi-Fi: First Japan, Then USA

lumix_DMC_TZ50S.pngCome June, Americans can get their hands on this little wi-fi gem. (Japan gets a hold of it in May.) We expect this to be one great little camera, like its other Lumix cousins. The wi-fi feature allows you connect to the web via any wireless network or T-Mobile HotSpot and access a photo-sharing site to upload, organize and delete. Pretty cool, hm? The best part is that the camera is set up to work with Picasa (Google's free photo-sharing service) -- hopefully the days of manufacturer-exclusive photo services are over.

Amazon's got it for $449.95 on pre-order. Comes in silver only. Here are the stats:

- 9.1 megapixel
- 28mm wide-angle Lecia lens, 10x optical zoom
- 3-inch Intelligent LCD
- HD output (for TV, computer monitor)
- Wi-Fi connects to wireless networks and hotspots
- Mega IOS (Panasonic for "reduces hand-shake")
- Intelligent ISO, Continuous Auto-Focus, Red-eye correction
- Face recognition, Scene selection

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 14, 2008

Fridge Magnet Digital Photo Frames: At Last?

fridgemagnetframe.jpgWell... if it isn't another evolution for digital photography and humanity. At first the fridge magnet digital photo frame seems irritating, but think about it. No more mucky photos stuck all over the fridge, falling down from pathetic theme magnets (poor magnets) and with the 32MB of internal memory, chances are you can represent every man, woman and chicken who comes through your door -- at last, no one is offended. This can't help you with crumpled, questionable kindergarten paintings. This digital frame appears to hail from the UK for about $60 -- we'll update other purchase options as they come up.

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 11, 2008

flickr Friday: Urban Surfing

flickr_urbansurfing.jpgThis guy is surfing in a canal in Munich's Englischer Garten city park! He's no buff, tanned California surfer, but hey. See more .Hessam work at Flickr. If you're a real fan of the surf, you must check out our friend Art Brewer -- Masters of Surf Photography and just out, Bunker Spreckels: Surfing's Divine Prince of Decadence.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 10, 2008

myPhotopipe: Your Very Own Pro-Quality Digital Photo Lab

myphotopipe.pngWell here is a digital printing service to check out: myPhotopipe. It's been around a while but is not super well known. If print quality is your objective, definitely give it a try, especially for enlargements and custom projects. Expect to pay more than the mass-market services (Shutterfly, etc.) but you'll get your shekels back in quality. They make things you want -- panoramas, cards, collages, contact sheets, books -- not the freaky stuff you don't want, like photo blankets, mouse pads and such.

myPhotopipe touts its variety of print sizes, papers, finishes and attention to color management. They pledge to keep your color profiles and for $1 a print, you can have your prints individually color corrected by a real, live person. (Most printing services just push all images through a basic filter, if that.) They've got a fulfillment setup for event pros (weddings, etc.) and as a testament to quality, pros are a huge part of their customer base. They partner with Blurb for photo books -- Blurb's got a great reputation for quality and customizable designs.

If there's a catch, here it is: ROES (Remote Order Entry System).
If you want to use all the cool cropping and customization features myPhotopipe offers, you've got to download their ROES software. (You can do a straight upload of images via PhotoCentral if you just want lab prints, but that kind of misses the point of what myPhotopipe has to offer.)

ArrowContinue reading: "myPhotopipe: Your Very Own Pro-Quality Digital Photo Lab "

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 9, 2008

Kodak EasyShare Digital Photo Frames: New M Series, Wireless, Customizable Faceplates

Kodak, the American favorite (once upon a time, anyway), has a full lineup of digital photo frames. They are a good option overall and we love the customizable faceplates. There's dozens of new designs (especially for the new M series) that you can mix and match -- wood and metals, matte borders and even a shadowbox option -- go to the Kodak site to see what we mean. You can try Kodak Outlet for deals on refurbished frames -- otherwise Amazon's usually rocking the best price. Try to excuse Kodak's crappy product photography. If you want frames that make you drool, try Ality.

Kodak EasyShare Wireless Frames
EX1011 Kodak EasyShare 10-inch Wireless Digital Frame (Amazon $249.99)
EX811 Kodak EasyShare 8-inch Wireless Digital Frame (Amazon $159.98)kodak_wirelessframe.pngThe wireless frames come in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes. These frames are packed with useful features but the coolest thing is Picture Mail through Kodak Gallery. You can send your photos to other Kodak Wireless photo frame owners and receive new photos from people using Kodak Gallery. If you don't use Kodak Gallery, this feature is of course useless.

- 800x480 display resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
- LED backlight
- Built-in speakers play MP3s
- Video (MOV, AVI, MPEG1, MPEG4)
- Image files format (JPEG, EXIF)
- Wi-Fi enabled: can add photos/videos from computer to frame over your wireless network
- Send + receive photos through Kodak Gallery
- On-frame viewing + editing
- Slideshow templates
- Can print directly to PictBridge-enabled printer
- Can program automatic on/off settings
- Remote control
- 128MB internal memory
- Insert memory card, connect direct to camera, or to computer (via USB)
- Tabletop or wall mount
- Accessory faceplates to customize frame

ArrowContinue reading: "Kodak EasyShare Digital Photo Frames: New M Series, Wireless, Customizable Faceplates"

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

April 7, 2008

The GE G1: We Think We Love It

GE_G1.jpgThis is what we're talking about when we say "you get a lot of bang for your buck these days in a point + shoot." (See Amazon's deal at $129.95.)You might do a double take at the GE brand name, but don't think twice -- GE has established itself as a solid player in the point and shoot market. The stats are below, but the feature we adore in this camera is the panorama. You take a photo, move the camera to the right or left, line up the shot with the edge of the last photo in the viewfinder, do this one more time, and then the camera mushes the three shots into a panoramic. It ain't perfect but it's close enough. While we're sure it's meant for beautiful vistas, we had a lot of fun shooting the same person in the panoramic, like this busy kitchen elf you see below.
GE_G1_panorama.JPGOne thing of note -- GE (like Sony) uses a proprietary USB cable, so beware that if you lose it you'll need to get another one via GE. Still an excellent option for a versatile digital camera -- we're thinking graduation presents, college kids, even on job sites. Our friend at ToolSnob swears by this camera!

- 7-megapixels
- Less than 1-inch thick! (3.62W x 2.5"H x .82"W)
- 3X Optical Zoom, 4.8X Digital Zoom
- 2.5" LCD Display
- MPEG4 movies with audio
- Macro mode for close-ups (5cm)
- Image Stabilization, Multiple Scene Modes, Continuous Shooting
- Face-tracking, Red-eye Removal, Stitching
- Panorama (Wheee!)
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included)
- SD/SDHC memory slot expandable to 4GB

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

April 4, 2008

flickr Friday: Lamb Fever

flickr_lamb.jpgWe're having an issue with spring here... can't get enough fast enough. Maybe this lamb will help. He looks happy and fresh. Taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S9500 -- interesting choice. See more Essjay work at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Photo Software Series: Programs for Pros

In PictureSnob's Photo Software Series, we're taking a look at a range of current photo software. Let us know your experiences and if there's another photo software that you'd like to recommend.

The Pro Stuff
What you can do with these programs is endless. It's up to you how many features you wish to use, but you'll never run out! Hands down, Adobe Photoshop is still king of this world, especially if you wish to integrate with any other Adobe Creative Suite products.
software_pro.jpgAdobe Photoshop (Amazon $624.99)
When you're serious about being top-notch.
We're talking precise color-correction, color calibration to monitors and printers, raw-image processing and streamlined workflow with Adobe Bridge (included). Most importantly, nondestructive editing: keep your pixels pure while messing around with levels, filters and retouching. If you work with any other programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, this is the program for you. If you don't know what any of that meant, stick to Photoshop Elements and spend the $500 you saved on a sweet Epson printer!

Adobe Photoshop Extended (Amazon $996.99)
For 3D and motion support.
Simply, this is Photoshop that also caters to 3D content, animation and video. Also great for medical, architectural and engineering applications -- compatible with CAD, MATLAB and DICOM data.

Apple Aperture (Amazon $189.99)
A warm, fuzzy place between iPhoto and Photoshop.
Mac only. Okay, rather than go over all the features, "Appleture" makes us want to know how this compares to Photoshop and iPhoto. We're going to examine that pandora's box in detail later, but here's the nutshell. Use Aperture if you are focused on organizing, sorting and doing minor image edits. Use Photoshop for intensive image editing. Aperture can handle more images than iPhoto can and its file management system is better integrated than Photoshop's Bridge. Aperture can also process raw files and has more manual editing options than iPhoto (but less than Photoshop). It's fully integrated with all the iLife and .Mac programs and is Photoshop-friendly -- you can export an image from Aperture, edit it to death in Photoshop, and then import it back to Aperture. Ultimately, we consider this an upgrade from iPhoto rather than an alternative to Photoshop.

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

April 3, 2008

Photo Software Series: Programs for Hobbyists

In PictureSnob's Photo Software Series, we're taking a look at a range of current photo software. Let us know your experiences and if there's another photo software that you'd like to recommend.

The Hobbyist Stuff
With this batch of programs you're going to find more customized editing capabilities but still some automatic editing options. Still need to go pro if you're pixel paranoid, but these are some excellent programs that are adequate for most.
software_hobbyist.jpgAdobe Photoshop Elements (Amazon $63.49)
Consider this "Photoshop Light."
While pros could find Elements limiting, the tools here are all that most folks would need or want to be bothered with. Some highlights include compositing tools that allow you to combine photos (like swapping heads to get the best group shot) and a healing brush for airbrushing wrinkles and skin tone. There's also step-by-step assistance and templates for making cards, photo books, CD/DVD labels and such. Easily creates slideshows and facilitates uploading to web site or email. Another great feature is organizing photos with tags (basically a key word you associate with an image that allows for efficient searching) as well as the standard ability to create albums. Note that this software does often come free with some cameras and printers.

Apple iLife (Amazon $69.49)
A fantastic and fun suite of creative products.
Mac only. This is a great suite of products for WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design. While iPhoto comes free with all Mac operating systems, you may eventually want to purchase iLife to get the latest versions of the entire product suite. So we'll focus on iPhoto here, but remember one of the great features of iPhoto is its integration with iWeb (design your web site), iMovie/iDVD (make movies) and .Mac (sharing and storage). You can organize and search thousands of photos by event, rating, keyword, date, albums--you name it. The editing tools are quality (although if you mind your pixels, edit in pro software) with many options for coloring, red eye correction and exposure adjustment. iPhoto directly connects to Apple's printing services (prints, books, calendars, cards) and offers a good amount of customization ability in their templates.

Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo (Amazon $73.99)
A great, low-cost alternative to Photoshop.
Windows only. There's a depth of functionality here that will grow with you. Express Lab is a streamlined mode where you can quickly edit photos in an automated way. If you really want to get into it, you can apply layer styles to create drop shadows, reflections and glows, perfect faces with retouching tools and explore hundreds of special effects. Perhaps the best feature is the integrated Learning Center that offers tutorials on editing tricks.

Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite (Amazon $54.99)
A multimedia approach with endless potential.
Windows only. The glory of this software is projects that combine photos, music and video. There's a lot of press on how Roxio has tuned its program to the Vista platform. We're thinking teenagers for this one... some highlights include setting slideshows and video to "real" soundtracks (no looping) and integration with iPods and mobile phones. You'll be storing music, image and video files in one media library, which is pretty cool and smart. Burn high-definition and Blu-ray DVDs and includes dozens of movie, music and photo project themes.

Tune in tomorrow for Photo Software Series: Programs for Pros.

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 2, 2008

Photo Software Series: Programs for Beginners & Kids

In PictureSnob's Photo Software Series, we're taking a look at a range of current photo software. Let us know your experiences and if there's another photo software that you'd like to recommend.

The Easy Peasy Stuff

If you're looking for something that Picasa or iPhoto can't already offer, these programs are focused on being easy and fast -- great for kids. With all of these you can organize your photos, do basic (often automated) editing and create and print things like greeting cards. Again, Keep in mind that these type of programs do not have pixel integrity in mind when it comes to editing photos. If plan on doing a lot of editing and you are concerned with keeping high and pure resolution of your photos, consider pro software.
software_beginner.jpgNova Photo Explosion (Amazon $19.99)
Simple and fast for beginners.
Windows only. Captures your photos directly from cameras and scanners and allows you to browse and organize your images with drag-and-drop simplicity. SmartEnhance technology will automatically adjust images in one click. Can also crop and combine two photos into one as well as use artistic effects like watercolor and fabric filters. Easily print contact sheets and create web cards and printed projects with over 4,500 templates.

Nova Greeting Card Factory Deluxe (Amazon $40.99)
Great if you want to make cards, cards and more cards!
Windows only. Nova has teamed up with Art Explosion, a massive clip art library, and with this software you get access to over 88,000 graphics. There's a built-in address book and reminder program so you don't miss birthdays and such. Create calendars (daily, weekly, monthly), cards and even a photo CD/DVD slideshow. They're touting an improved user interface and thousands of projects: certificates, stationery, address labels... the list goes on! We know a few kids who would have a ball with this.

PhotoStudio Expressions (Amazon $29.99)
Modern slideshow features differentiate from competition.
Windows only. A cool feature is creating slideshow movies -- add music, transitions and text -- then burn to disk and create custom CD/DVD labels. The slideshows are also compatible with iPods, PDAs and cell phones. One-click red eye removal and image enhancements. Can also create themed photo albums for sharing and easily print to any size with artistic frames and edges.

Stamps.com PhotoStamps (Amazon $19.95)
Opens the door to another fun customization project.
Oh, this is cool. You can take your photos and turn them into honest to goodness U.S. postage stamps. Great for kids, weddings, the pet-obsessed. There are some super-basic editing capabilities, but the only output is a stamp. Software is set up to work seamlessly with iPhoto, so we recommend doing any modifications there. Now it pays to note that you don't need this software to make photo stamps -- go to stamps.com to see what we mean. But by purchasing the software you get a free sheet of stamps (value of about $27.98) so as you can calculate, buying the software is just a big coupon. Another advantage could be saving the stamp designs over time, and being able to test-print them at home.

Tune in tomorrow for Photo Software Series: Programs for Hobbyists.

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 1, 2008

Photo Software Series: Finding the Right Program

software.jpgAmazon does a great job categorizing the photo software options in a way that should help you choose what's right for you. We've narrowed things down a bit further to reflect the best quality brands and features. Do we all need to shell out $650 for Photoshop? No way, Bob. In fact, many free programs that come with operating systems, digital cameras, printers and scanners are plenty adequate for your average man, woman or chicken. It depends what you're looking to do -- organize, edit, create?

In PictureSnob's Photo Software Series, we're taking a look at a range of current photo software. Let us know your experiences and if there's another photo software that you'd like to recommend.
software_free.jpgThe Free Stuff
See what you've got already! Besides iPhoto and Picasa, you might have software that came with your camera, so take a look around. The focus of these programs is organization and sharing, the drawback is that after a certain number of images, they will get slow, slow sloooooow. Keep in mind that these type of programs do not have pixel integrity in mind when it comes to editing photos. If you plan on doing a lot of editing and you are concerned with keeping high and pure resolution of your photos, consider pro software.

iPhoto (Comes with Mac operating systems)
Remember that if you want to have the latest version of iPhoto you may need to purchase the iLife software suite, we're not sure how much you can automatically upgrade the software as part of your operating system. You can do everything mentioned for Picasa (below) and we like the total integration with Apple's print products (prints, books, calendars, etc.), iWeb software and .Mac interface. This allows for easy upload for sharing, printing and creating your own web site or print products. Apple is the professional favorite for color, design and quality. The .Mac web gallery is a cool feature coordinated with .Mac where you can create an online gallery where visitors can view and download photos as well as add their own. They've also introduced theme-based home printing, so you can add fun borders and text to your images and print them out at home.

Picasa (Free download from Google)

Windows XP only. A lot of folks are using this. The capabilities are similar to iPhoto in that it will locate and centralize your photos and allow you to group images into albums. You can also rate your photos, write captions and do basic editing like correct red eye, adjust contrast, convert to black & white. Picasa also facilitates emailing photos (especially easy with Gmail) and uploading photos to your web site or popular photo printing sites. There's no doubt, a lot of great features (if you don't mind contributing to the Googlepire).

Tune in tomorrow for Photo Software Series: Programs for Beginners & Kids.

Susan Moriarty Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
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