Review

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.

Arcus from Moshi: A backpack for the fashion-forward photographer

I have amassed quite a collection of photo backpacks over the years, in all shapes and sizes. Most are purely functional, and even those that look good, like my , clearly define themselves with functionality first. So I was very curious when Moshi, known for their fashionable accessories, asked me to test out their new Arcus backpack prior to launch at CES. I was impressed that while it is stylish, it could also fit my laptop, tablet, phone, paperwork, jacket, and camera with two lenses. So I was happy to give it a try. What I found was a pack that will make a lot of consumers happy, although it may not be rugged enough for most professionals.

Fujifilm X-Pro2: Retro camera for those with Leica envy

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)Right from the first look the screams retro, and reminds one of a Leica. Its square-shaped, solid-metal, body, with large control dials on top is a definite throwback. At first blush, so is the Rangefinder (which under the hood turns out to be a lot more than that). As with Leica, a carefully-curated selection of high-performance lenses complement the camera itself. The design may be retro, and a few of the features, but the Fuji X-Pro 2 packs a punch when it comes to the latest technology, features, and premium image quality. You won't be sacrificing anything in those areas by moving to one.

Looking for a Photoshop alternative: $40 for Affinity Photo is your best option

For photographers looking for an alternative to Photoshop, that want all the power it provides and aren’t satisfied with the more limited processing capabilities of or , there haven’t been too many alternatives. The best options to date have been , Gimp, or perhaps Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector. Now though, Affinity has dramatically improved the capabilities of its Photo product and has also made it available on both Mac and Windows. For the value price of $40, you can have a product that does almost all of what Photoshop does, and many things it doesn’t. I’ve taken it for a spin and enjoyed using it. You can read my .

Samsung Gear 360: Excellent image quality in an awkward package

Samsung Gear 360 Spherical VR CameraThis year has seen the first consumer-friendly 360-degree cameras capable of 4K video capture. 4K or better resolution is much more important for 360-degree cameras than for traditional models, because those 4,000 x 2,000 pixels have to cover a full 360-degrees of the scene. The best known of these cameras is Samsung's Gear 360, so we took one out for a spin to see if it is indeed a worthy upgrade to the Ricoh Theta S that we reviewed earlier in the year. In short, it is a solid step up in output quality, but at the cost of a somewhat-awkward form factor. Keep in mind that to use the full features of the you need to pair it with a Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S7, S7 Edge, or Note 5. It’s bundled software is also Windows-only.

Datacolor offers slick new Plus package for the Spyder5

SpyderLENSCALI hope most of you are already using a hardware-calibrated, color-managed, workflow for your photography. As you know, my favorite solution is the from Datacolor. Now Datacolor is offering a slick upgrade for users that includes some really impressive features. It’s new “+” Pack adds 1-click calibration, automatic room-light-level brightness switching, and improved profile management. The Elite version of “+” also adds support for soft proofing, and an improved version of StudioMatch.

Our Holiday Travel and Tech Gift Guide

We're entering holiday gift season, and if you're like me, there are always a couple people that are hard to shop for. So we wanted to pass along my top travel and photo accessories, in case one of them would help fill the bill. Some are awesome for just about anyone who travels, and others are especially useful for photographers.

MindShift Moose Pack MP-3 v2 field-tested: A winner for wildlife and action shooters

Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0It’s no secret that I loved my original MP-3, and made it my “go to” camera bag when I had to bring my wildlife photo gear somewhere and needed to make efficient use of space – particularly for trips involving small planes or a bit of hiking. So it was great news for me when Moose Peterson teamed up with Think Tank’s MindShift brand to produce a new, improved, version. I’ve been using it for a while now, and am very impressed. It retains the flexible design of the original, but offers improved shoulder straps, an even more-rugged build quality, and a few other nice touches.

Lumix ZS100: A Goldilocks camera for image lovers who need more zoom from their point and shoot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Digital Camera (Black)A common theme in compact cameras is the tradeoff between zoom range and image quality. The very top rated () has the best image quality, but a small zoom range of 24-70mm. The () stretches that to 24-100mm, but that’s not much of a gain. On the other extreme, the () provides both an amazing zoom and great image quality, but is much larger and more expensive. Enter the . It is larger than the RX100 or Canon G series, but not by a huge amount. In exchange it offers a larger, 25-250mm, zoom range but doesn’t trade off much in image quality.

Sony RX100 V: Solid upgrades keep it ahead of the pack

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V Digital CameraSony has set the standard for high-end point-and-shoot cameras since it first introduced the Sony RX100 Mark I. Each year has brought additional features in the form of a new model, and this year is no exception. The adds the increasingly-popular Phase Detect AF, and a startlingly fast 24fps burst mode. 

Looking for a new computer? Here are some of the best laptops for photo editing

Each year I write up a list of some of my favorite laptop choices for photo editing, which is published on ExtremeTech.com. This year’s edition is just out now, so you if you’re looking for a new computer, and want a laptop that you can travel with but is also beefy enough to handle your photo editing needs, . An additional entry is the , a well-designed powerhouse with the latest technology.

ProShow 8: The best slideshow package for Windows gets even better

ProShow 8 is Here!The folks at Photodex keep finding new ways to improve on ProShow, which for a long time has been the best slideshow package on the market. For anyone who wants to do pro-quality presentations or videos starting with images and other media, ProShow is the best tool you can buy. The desktop version is Windows-only, but there is a Web version with less features that can be used from any machine. Now, Photodex has released ProShow 8, with a number of new features and other improvements. I’ve been using it since its release, including to create our traditional participant slideshows during our Alaska Bear & Puffin safaris, and the new version has made it easier than ever…

MindShift rotation180 Panorama Camera Backpack Field tested: Great solution for an all-in-one field pack

It's one thing to have a great, dedicated, camera backpack. There are many of those on the market. Some of my personal favorites are the and my Think Tank for when I need a roller. I'm also looking forward to trying out the new MindShift MP-3, based on Moose Peterson's design. However, sometimes you need to bring along a variety of other goodies, like jackets and gloves for the changing weather, or food for a long day out, and you don’t need a huge supply of photo gear. That means you need a flexible pack that can store a wide variety of contents. If you add to that the requirement to get at your photo gear without taking your pack off -- a must when working in mud, deep sand, or powdery snow – you need a different kind of backpack.

Nikon D500 field-tested: Long-expected successor to the Nikon D300 worth the wait!

Nikon D500 DSLR Camera (Body Only)Few cameras have had a more loyal following than the Nikon D300 (and predecessor Nikon D200). For those who wanted a pro-quality Nikon without moving to the size and expense of full-frame, they represented an excellent combination of features at a reasonable price. However, as the years have gone by, the tech in those cameras has been left in the dust. Many owners have been forced to move either “down” to a more consumer-oriented, but newer, model like the , or up to a larger, more-expensive, model like the . No longer. I shot almost exclusively in Alaska for two weeks with a , and loved it. It is easy to hold, fun to use, and took photos that are as high quality as I’ve ever seen from a 21MP sensor.

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