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Ricoh Theta S 360 camera field tested: Insanely fun and surprisingly useful

Ricoh Theta S Spherical VR Digital CameraAlong with Virtual Reality, no trend is hotter this year than 360-degree photos and videos. For a few years now, you've been able to cobble together a 360 photo using an app on your phone to stitch together the many required images -- with predictably-mediocre results.

Simple method for photographing Flycatchers in action

One of the most fun experiences in birding and bird photography is watching flycatchers hit the water to grab insects. Unfortunately, it is usually only that – an experience. Actually capturing photos of the birds in action is one of the hardest tasks in wildlife photography. It is possible (just barely) to do it by actually tracking the birds, if you have the right gear and just the right setup and background. But most of the time, that simply isn’t an option. However, there is a fairly simple set of steps you can take to give yourself a chance at getting some interesting images, and maybe even some really good ones if you are persistent enough. We experimented with it on our recent Texas bird photo workshop with some good successes. Here is what you need to do:

Curious about Virtual Reality? Here is a guide to your options for getting started

Virtual Reality (VR) may not be directly affecting your photography yet, but there is no doubt it is a major new way to communicate visually, and this year it will begin to impact both still and video shooters. Along with its sibling, 360 photos and videos, it is a powerful new tool. However, it is really early days, and not everyone is cut out for taking the plunge. I put together a guide to the available , that will point you in the right direction based the level of your interest and enthusiasm – and budget.

Sony a6300 compact mirrorless field tested: Amazing tech in a small package

I've spent a lot more time shooting with the new since my first look article, and the experience has reinforced my impressions -- both pro and con. On the pro side, the speed and image quality is really amazing. I covered multiple events at Nvidia's tech conference, in a variety of awful lighting conditions, and the camera performed flawlessly at ISOs up to 3200 (where I had Auto ISO set to top out). However, even after some customization of the interface, I found the controls inefficient, especially in dark rooms.

Did Lytro just build the ultimate movie camera?

Lytro is best known for its consumer and prosumer camera models that allow after the fact refocusing. After generating a lot of media attention, neither product caught on in the marketplace, so Lytro began a well-publicized change in strategy – moving to create products for professional content creators. On the heels of announcing its Immerge, which it plans to be the ultimate VR video capture system, Lytro has just announced Cinema, a movie camera that essentially virtualizes video capture. Instead of only capturing the amount of light falling on its sensor (or sensors), it also captures information about the direction of the light. This, coupled with a an active sensor that creates a depth map, allows movie makers to refocus, automatically green screen, and perform other special effects after the fact. I covered more of the details in a . If any of you are at NAB next week where the unit will be premiered, let us know what you think!

Sony a6300: A nearly perfect camera if you can live with the controls

Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm LensAlmost every photographer I know wishes their camera was smaller and lighter. But of course they don’t want to give up speed or features. This is particularly true with those of us clinging to our DSLRs, but constantly eyeing the mirrorless category for new models, as they creep up on our larger cameras in capability. With the launch of its , yet another set of barriers to moving to mirrorless have come down. I’ve been shooting with one since its launch and while I’ll be doing a more-detailed review, I wanted to get my preliminary thoughts out.

360-degree photos, Virtual Reality, and what they mean for photographers: Some thoughts

With the sudden interest in 360-degree photos and videos – along with a variety of new products for capturing them – it is natural to ask how they will be viewed, and what they might mean for photographers. This is a rapidly-changing area, but with today’s official launch of the Oculus Rift VR headset, it’s a good time to take stock of where we are so far – both in image capture and viewing.

Adobe updates Lightroom, Photoshop, and adds intelligent search to Lightroom Web

Adobe continues to deliver on its promise of steady updates for photographers subscribing to its Creative Cloud Photography plan. This week, Adobe updated the desktop versions of Lightroom and Photoshop with lots of bug fixes (especially to Lightroom), new camera and lens support (including for the new ), and (finally) an updated UI for Adobe Camera Raw. Lightroom for the web has also been enhanced with intelligent object-recognition-based indexing for more powerful search, like this one for trees in my online collections…

Sony HX80: For those desperate to get a tiny superzoom

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 Digital CameraIf you really need a 30x zoom (roughly 24mm-720mm in full-frame equivalent terms) that will fit in your shirt pocket, the might fit the bill. It has the usual nicely-speced Sony electronics, backing up its relatively-small 18MP 1/2.3-inch sensor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Adobe RGB, and it doesn’t support RAW, so it’s not likely to be the right solution for you. If you don’t need the 30x zoom, you’re also better off getting a similar-sized model that does have those features, like the  (for a similar price). You can pre-order the now from B&H for $350, and it is expected to ship in mid-April.

Nikon expands D750 recall to include units made in first half of 2015

Nikon has expanded its recall of DSLRs, one of the few gltiches that has marred this otherwise amazing camera. It is for the same symptom – an un-naturally-shaped flare when shooting in to certain lighting conditions. The recall originally affected only cameras built in a small window in 2014, but has been extended to those manufactured through June, 2015. Fortunately, it is easy enough to check if your camera is affected on .

Magellan eXplorist TRX7: The ultimate off-road GPS and navigation system

Every serious nature photographer spends at least some time "off the beaten path." In particular, back roads, dirt roads and trails are often the only way to get where you need to go. Unfortunately, the otherwise-amazing navigation tools like Google Maps that we rely on for street driving are nearly useless once we venture beyond the main road grid. Magellan aims to take up the slack with a purpose-built off-road navigation system, the . I’ve been fortunate enough to give one of the first units a full field test…

Nikon jumps into the high-end point-and-shoot market with the DL family of full-featured compact cameras

Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 Digital CameraWe’ve written a lot before about the best of the best in point and shoots – typically a tight race between models like the , , and . Now, Nikon wants a piece of the action. Today it introduced a new family of cameras – DL for Digital Lens – that offer a range of zoom options to meet a variety of needs. You can read more about the , , and in my article on Extremetech.com. You can pre-order the cameras from B&H at $846.95 for the , $646.95 for the , and $996 for the – although B&H doesn’t expect them to be available until late June.

Adobe adds full Raw workflow support to Lightroom Mobile for Android

In some exciting news for any image enthusiast owning a recent-vintage Android phone, Adobe has released a major upgrade to Lightroom Mobile for Android. It includes a slick in-app Camera, support for processing Raw images (assuming your phone supports Raw), some new filters, targeted adjustments, and a few other slick new features. I’ve written about . You can snag the free update from the Google Play Store.

New Sony a6300 may just be the perfect compact mirrorless camera

Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm LensIf you asked me to write down by dream specs for a mirrorless camera, they’d look a lot like those of the newly announced . It surpasses not just all similar Sony models, but all other compact-size mirrorless cameras on the market – in many cases by leaps and bounds. Let’s go over its breakthroughs…

Texas bird photo trifecta: Pro tips, live presentation, and discounts on our April South Texas workshop and ProShow software

We’ve got all sorts of goodies today for bird photographers. First, I’ve written up some of my favorite “pro” tips for bird photographers in a (makers of ProShow, our favorite slide show software). Photodex also put together a cool video from some of the shots from our previous South Texas bird photo workshops to accompany the blog post.

And tonight (Wednesday, February 3rd) I’ll be speaking (and showing illustrative images, with plenty of tips and tidbits of advice) on South Texas Bird photography at the Bay Area Bird Photographers meeting (7:30pm at the Palo Alto Baylands). It is free and open to all. I hope you can join us! (Meeting info at the end of this article).

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