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-- From B&H

Best laptops for Photo Editing

I’ve just updated my guide to some of the , so it is current with the latest models. Not a huge amount has changed since it was last updated 6 months ago, but more models now have Nvidia 10xx (instead of 9xx) GPUs, which is a sizable jump, and now many of them have 7th generation Core CPUs (Kaby Lake). There are also gains in performance, some decreases in size, and ports moving towards newer standards. One important development on the horizon is Nvidia’s new “Max-Q” laptop architecture, which will enable thinner models with discrete GPUs. Those should start showing up in the market by July. Their primary focus is gaming, but as always, gaming laptops can be ideal for image processing.

DJI breaks new ground with $500 Spark flying camera drone

It wasn’t that long ago that DJI amazed everyone by shrinking its Phantom drone platform down to a portable and more-affordable unit, the Mavic Pro. I love my two Mavics, and they are a great place to start if you know you want to get serious about drone photography. . But if you’re a little daunted by the whole process of setting up and flying a drone, or about the $1K price tag, DJI has done it again. It’s new . Or you can get a . DJI & B&H are estimated that shipments will begin in mid-June. You don’t get the 4K video or a few of the other features of the Mavic Pro, but the Spark is even smaller and easier to get flying.

Serious photography fun with DJI Mavic Pro portable drone

I’ve been having a blast with my DJI Mavic Pro drones. They are amazing pieces of technology, and DJI has packed most of the best features of the much-larger Phantom drones into this folding version. I’ll be writing a lot more about using drones for both fun and serious photo and video projects, but if you’re curious about what’s possible, I’ve written up my first experiences and notes in an . When you’re ready to fly, you can pick up a , or get a more .

Images from our South Texas (Rio Grande Valley) photo workshop

We just finished a really fun, and successful, photo workshop in the Rio Grande Valley. Off to our Hill Country workshop next! Some of my personal favorite photos: . Currently we don't have specific plans for when we'll be leading another workshop in the RGV, but if you like what you see and would be interested, message or get in touch through our website. Thanks, as always, to our hosts, Steve Bentsen and the Jackson family.

Sony's new monster full-frame Alpha a9 mirrorless available for pre-order

If you aren’t hopelessly addicted to Nikon or Canon, and don’t need the massive array of lenses and accessories they offer, then Sony is giving you one more big reason to dump your DSLR and go mirrorless. The is a spectacular performance machine, capable of 20fps shooting with Autofocus, for example. I’ll be writing more about it (and perhaps giving one a field test) in the coming weeks and months, but wanted to make sure eager beavers got in on the first pre-orders. You can put your order in for a – with shipments expected to start May 25th.

Synology's new DS-1517+ NAS brings 10-Gigabit within reach of photographers

Product DetailsThe Achilles heel of network server storage for home and small business use has always been performance. Network drives are just not as fast as local drives, dollar for dollar. Even over Gigabit networks, you’re limited to just over 100MB/second maximum throughput. 10 Gigabit has been around for awhile, but has been out of the price range for most of us. Now, for less than $1,000, you can get a high-performance 5-bay NAS and an optional 10-Gigabit adapter (for $270). You’ll still need to add drives, and you need to spend another couple hundred bucks for a 10-Gigabit adapter for your computer, if you don’t already have one. I’ll be doing a field-test of one of these units for soon, and will keep you posted here when that’s out, but wanted to give you a heads up.

New Nikon D7500 prosumer DSLR available for pre-order

Nikon has introduced a new model in its D7000 “prosumer” product line – the Nikon D7500. It features most of the headline features anyone could want in a sub-$1500 camera. In addition to 21MP DX-format sensor, it shoots at 8 fps, backed by an 51-point AF system, and can record 4K and time lapse video. Taking a page from consumer-friendly cameras, it has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and can be run from your smartphone. I’ve . You can’t get your hands on one until summer though, but . We look forward to reviewing one and letting you know how it works out in the field!

Adobe teases AI that it claims will let any smartphone owner make great portrait photos

Among serious photographers there is an oft-repeated mantra that “It’s the photographer, not the camera” that makes a great photo. While that is certainly true, tech companies are working hard to level the playing field. In a recent pair of research teases, Adobe is showing off how it expects to make it possible to fix many of the most common issues with typical smartphone portrait snapshots after the fact, turning them into some pretty impressive final versions. I wrote up , or you can read on to see the full Adobe teaser video…

Nikon celebrates turning 100 with some limited-edition cameras, lenses, and commemorative items

On July 25th, Nikon’s 100th anniversary, some of the specially-made products Nikon teased earlier this year will be available for sale. That includes Anniversary Editions of its flagship Nikon D5, and the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E , Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lenses. They’ll all be in a unique dark gray, and come with various other goodies to help you celebrate. That’s not all though…

Arri's new surgical microscope shows that large sensors aren't just for cameras

If you know the name Arri, it is probably from their century-long dominance of the cinema camera industry. However, now it is bringing its famous Alexa image sensor to the industry’s first all-digital surgical microscope – aptly named the ARRISCOPE. I got a chance to use one of the prototypes when the team brought the beast to Stanford for a talk this week. It is indeed impressive. You can learn more about it by reading the .

DJI Phantom, ZenMuse, GoPro 5, Yuneec drone camera sensors reviewed

DxOMark benchmarks for popular drone camera sensorsAs drones become increasingly popular for serious photography, DxO Labs decided they deserved to be reviewed for image quality the same way it reviews camera sensors for its DxOMark site. I was fortunate enough to be able to help them write a . The review also highlights the limits of testing just the sensor for drones. In future broader reviews that include stabilization, optics, lag, video, and other capabilities that are important for many applications.

Hands-on with Moshi's new wireless Vortex Air premium earbuds

With the disappearance of headphone jacks on an increasing number of smartphones, wireless earbuds have become more than just a convenience feature. That means a difficult tradeoff for audio designers between accommodating the limited battery capacity and providing high-quality sound. These tiny devices also need to support drop-free Bluetooth connectivity and streaming. Moshi, which is known for its fashion-forward accessories, , and headphones, has entered the market with two cleverly-designed models. The less-expensive Mythro Air and the Vortex Air – which we’ve been testing.

Adobe brings pro-friendly RAW HDR capture to Lightroom Mobile

Until now, HDR capture on smartphones has been an under-the-covers merging of several frames in a fairly simple way by the phone itself. Now, Lightroom Mobile offers pro-grade HDR for supported phones. The app’s camera mode will analyze the scene, decide on the needed bracketing, capture the images in RAW mode, and then combine and tonemap them into a 32-bit floating-point DNG RAW file – allowing full HDR editing. This is pretty amazing when you consider that typically a similar workflow involves bracketing on a high-end camera, and the use of specialized software applications to do the merge and tone mapping. It works on the Apple iPhone 6s and later, Samsung Galaxy 7 and 7 edge, and Google’s Pixel family of phones. For users of other phones, there are still some goodies packed into the new version of Lightroom mobile:

SmartDesk 2: Finally, an affordable, automated, stand-sit desk for your studio

For years its been known that working standing up – at least part of the time – can be good for your back. As photographers, most of us work standing up quite a bit. But unlike when shooting film and spending nights in the darkroom, many of us spend long days on the computer, and it is all too easy to not move around or stand up enough. There are a number of very nice motorized desks on the market, but they have typically cost as much as your DSLR. Not everyone can, or wants to, afford that. So it is with great interest that we’ve been watching the rollout of Autonomous.ai’s new SmartDesk 2. The company has been selling SmartDesks for a couple years, but version 2 has some significant changes – including better-built motors and controls. We’ve been testing the dual-motor Business Edition.

EI2017 talk: Future challenges in measuring image quality

New technologies like multiple-sensor cameras, multi-frame noise reduction techniques, and new platforms like drones mean that we'll need to totally-overhaul the way we assess the quality of a camera for its intended purpose. I was privileged to be invited to give a talk on the topic – sharing my perspective as a professional photographer, tech journalist, and camera reviewer with a room full of interested imaging scientists that will need to be creating the needed solutions. For those curious about where we’re heading, you can follow along with my presentation:

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