Bits and Pieces

It’s been a busy year so far and without a doubt there’s more to come.  Here’s a short rundown.

Adobe Lightroom 4 has just been released.  There are some pretty big changes that should appeal to most users and the package carries a lower price tag too.  At the fundamental level there’s a new RAW development Process Version (PV2012) in which the underlying engine has been improved and which will require some study and familiarization as to which sliders are performing what function.  The same new engine will also show up soon as Camera Raw v6.7 in Photoshop CS6 since the same RAW developer is used in both packages, just implemented differently.  (ACR Release Candidate v6.7 is available now for early adopters.  This is your key to Photoshop RAW conversion for the new PowerShot G1 X; see full new camera support list here.)  There’s plenty of online info available on LR4, but a place to start might be with DP Review’s coverage.  As image editing programs continue to improve, it’s worth pointing out that going back to some of those older RAW files and redeveloping them with the new process can sometimes yield some pretty surprising results.  Files you may have skipped before because you couldn’t envision making anything reasonable from them might be worthy of attention now; one more reason not to be too hasty making initial editing decisions and permanently deleting questionable original RAW files just to save a little storage space.

In other software, Both Apple and Microsoft have new operating system versions on the way—Mountain Lion for Apple, and Windows 8 for Microsoft.  Both efforts accelerate the convergence of mobile operating system components with the traditional keyboard/mouse interface.  This is a sea change, and will challenge the comfort level of a lot of established mindsets, but it’s the way forward and is best embraced to leverage current processes for efficient future output.

In the realm of tablets, Apple announced their new (3rd Generation) iPad yesterday.   The top new feature is a very high resolution Retina display.  While still more a device for consumption than creative production, the iPad has become a very useful tool for a great many photographers.  One source has indicated the new high-res model has a significantly wider color gamut as well, and it will be interesting to see what discriminating reviewers like Ctein and Rob Galbraith have to say on that subject down the road as color accuracy is especially important for image makers.

The Micro Four Thirds category has a strong new player in the Olympus OM-D E-M5.  While Olympus as a company continues to struggle with huge financial issues, the E-M5 has certainly created excitement by employing some very interesting high-level features with pro aspirations in a diminutive package having distinctive retro styling harking back to the vaunted OM-4 SLR film camera.  With m4/3 lens selection continuing to improve, I think the E-M5 has a bright future.

In a different vein, Pentax chose to enter the compact interchangeable-lens category (which they are labeling “Hybrid”) with the K-01.  Using a 16MP APS-C sized sensor and a proprietary lens mount that provides backward compatibility with a large number of legacy Pentax lenses, the curious thing (from my perspective) is the very strong emphasis for this model on design (function following form?).  Press material goes to great lengths to laud the artistic acclaim of Marc Newson and what Pentax perceives to be the magnetic appeal of bold lines, bright colors, rounded corners, and soft accents.  I’m sure it’s all in the eye of the beholder, and while I have great respect for Marc Newson, the K-01 looks to me more like a toy than a tool, and in addition comes up a bit short in the basic feature department (like some sort of eye-level viewfinder).  But I’m sure it’s capable of making very nice images, and I certainly wish Pentax well as that venerated company has a rich legacy of producing fine photographic tools.

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