Lensbaby Revamps Line

Lensbaby is changing up its line of bendable lenses, according to an announcement at Photokina. The company is also adding an entirely new lens, the Composer. The Composer relies on ball-and-socket twisting with a focusing ring, rather the bellows bend/focus system of older Lensbaby lenses. It also has an Optic Swap system, allowing you to swap the lenses inside the Composer for different options.

The Lensbaby original is being replaced by the Muse, which is mostly similar but will have the Optic Swap system. The Lensbaby 3G is being replaced by the Control Freak, also with the Optic Swap system.

Nintendo DS Hacked For DSLR Interface

It can get frustrating to have to haul around a laptop if you want to extend the capabilities of your DSLR for stuff like HDR intervalometer-based shot bracketing or remote shots in bulb mode but Steve at PanoCamera has a solution: he’s hacked his Nintendo DS to handle those sorts of little tasks for his Canon DSLR.

He’s been able to get the DS to do all sorts of stuff, including adding a ‘Clapper’ function:

The fun begins when you start to harness the play value of the DS in conjunction with the DSLR. This audio-based camera trigger function, for example, was trivial to add in, because of the DS’ built in microphone. One such device I found on the web sells for $350. As you can see I need to add a few niceties to this function, like the shot duration and an option for delaying the shot after the sound is recognized. I’m still in beta. I’ll be trying baloon-popping-fun photography soon.

Steve mentions that he’s considering converting more DSs for sale.

Ready to Digitize Old School Images?

If you took photographs before digital cameras became prevalent, it’s quite possible that you have full slide carousels sitting around. You can scan those slides and create digital images, but it tends to be a time consuming task. I once had the chore of scanning in a full carousel by hand, and I wouldn’t wish that task on anyone.

If you’re planning to scan a whole bunch of slides, it might be worth investing in a slide scanner, like the Slides 2 PC scanner. Ion Audio makes this sub-$100 scanner that digitizes slides automatically at 5 megapixels. Up until recently, dedicated slide scanners have been horribly expensive. Despite the low price, the Slides 2 PC seems like a good little machine and worth the price.

Mamiya Announces New Digital Back

Mamiya announced a new digital back at Photokina: the ZDb 22 megapixel Digital Back. The new model has several upgrades from the current Mamiya ZD back: a buffer with up to twice the memory, compatibility with SDHC cards and more. The ZDb is compatible with the Mamiya 645AFDII, Mamiya 645AFDIII, RZ67Pro-IID and RB67Pro-SD. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but will be available later in the fall. The specifications are:

  • Compatible cameras: Mamiya 645AFD/II/II, RZ67Pro-SD, RB67Pro-IID
  • Image sensor: 48x36mm full-frame transfer CCD
  • Total pixels: 21.70 mega pixels
  • Effective pixels: 21.30 mega pixels
  • Filter: Interchangeable: IR cut filter (standard), Low pass filter,
  • Filter for IR photography
  • Media card slot: Slot 1 for SD/SDHC, Slot 2 for CF card (type I & II)
  • Capture rate: 1.2 fps (burst rate: 22 frames)
  • Recording formats: RAW, JPEG (exif2.2), simultaneous RAW & JPEG
  • File size of RAW: approx. 35MB
  • JPEG Quality: L (5328×4000 pixels), M (4096×3072 pixels)
  • S (3008×2256 pixels)
  • JPEG compression: Fine, Normal, Basic
  • Color space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Strobe
  • Color temperature & Preset 1 & 2,
  • Sensitivity: ISO 50 to 400
  • LCD monitor: TFT 1.8”
  • External interface: IEEE1394 4-pin
  • Power source: Lithium ion rechargeable battery
  • Dimension/Weight: 106(W) x 90(H) x 62 (D) mm / 470g (body only)

Carl Zeiss Launches New Distagon T* 2.8/21 Lens

The legendary Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21Carl Zeiss has launched a new 21mm super wide angle lens: the Distagon T* 2.8/21. The lens is suitable for both digital and analog full-format SLR cameras with EF (ZE), F (ZF) and K (ZK) bayonets. It’s a modernized version of the the Contax system. The Distagon T* 2.8/21 is scheduled for delivery by the end of this year with the ZF and ZK versions. The expected selling price will be 1,399 euros.

The lens is ideal for architectural, journalistic and landscape photography, according to Carl Zeiss’ press release. The shortest possible distance setting of 0.22 m promises great perspectives.

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DrPic Offers Fast Photo-Editing

Editing photos in your web browser usually require Flash, Java or some other heavy-duty plug-in. But DrPic is an online image editor entirely based on Javascript. With DrPic, you can open an image and make your edits in less time than it takes a Flash-based site to finish loading.

DrPic is a free tool and, although it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some photo-editing applications, it does have the most useful. If you simply need to make a few quick edits, DrPic is a great option — no application to load or software to open. It won’t replace other photo-editing options, but DrPic can be a useful tool.

Akvis Announces New LightShop Version

Akvis Software announced LightShop 2.5 today. The new version of the light effect software has a ‘quick start’ option: a ready-to-use set of light effects have been added to the software. Version 2.5 also has improved compatibility with Vista Service Pack 1, as well as a new interface language (Portuguese).

LightShop is available for both Windows and Macintosh. For Macintosh, there are actually three separate options available: a standalone application, a plugin for Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Elements 6, and a plugin for earlier Photoshop versions. LightShop is available as a download from Akvis for $117. A free trial is also available.

D-Lux 4 Leaked in French Magazine

Leica’s D-Lux 4 was spotted in Chasseur d’Images, priced at approximately $980. At first glance, the D-Lux 4 looks very similar to the D-Lux 3, but there are some changes. The most significant difference is the addition of a hotshoe on the top of the D-Lux 4. The lens for the new camera also has a wider and faster lens (24-60mm, ƒ2-2.8). The camera does have a slightly lower pixel count: 10.1 megapixels. The D-Lux 3 had 10.4 megapixels. The sensor size is almost identical, shrinking from 1/1.65″ to 1/1.63″.

It’s expected that confirmation of the new D-Lux model will occur at Photokina.

iLovePhotos Does the Hard Work

Most photographers have plenty of photos that they need to keep organized — and they upload more all the time. But what if you had a photo program that could use facial recognition and visual tagging to cut down on the work you have to do? That’s exactly what iLovePhotos does, even to the point of allowing you to set up automatic emails for tags.

Unfortunately, iLovePhotos is still in a private beta. You can request an invite on their site, though, and it seems likely that they’ll be sending out a batch of invites soon. The software was officially launched today at DEMOfall 08.

Leaf Launches Medium Format Line

Leaf, known for its medium format digital cameras, has developed an entirely new line based on photographers’ features wish lists. The Belgian camera maker has incorporated several features into the new line: 56 megapixel resolution, ‘True Wide Frame’ sensors, the Leaf Verto internal sensor for changing orientation and the Leaf SensorFlex technology that allows photographers to pre-select capture speed and image size.

The new line is made up of six new products: the Leaf AFi-II 6, 7 and 10 digital camera systems and the Leaf Aptus-II 6, 7 and 10 digital camera backs. Leaf plans to debut its new product line at Photokina.