The long-term recovery in Japan continues to disrupt component supply and delivery schedules for many manufacturers of photographically related hardware. The future impact is simply unknown, and the best advice for the time being is to use what you have or do some minor stockpiling of items you find available. Don’t put it off if a specific tool is critical for a particular project.
Good news on the printer front. Epson has begun to ship the previously announced Stylus Photo R3000, the top end of the 13” lineup. Reviews (here, here, and here) are beginning to show up as well, and so far there are few complaints of substance. The list price is $849, though I’ve seen several sources with a slight discount already. While this isn’t exactly cheap (especially compared to the Stylus Pro 3880, which is a fine 17” printer already discounted and currently with a $150 rebate if you take delivery by the end of the month bringing it to nearly the same price and includes a lot more ink), but for many the R3000 is likely to be the most versatile printer in the lineup. Features attractive to me are the same footprint as a previous 13” model, the next to widest gamut inkset Epson produces (only the 4900/7900/9900 are better), auto-switching between PK/MK blacks, and much larger ink cartridges (25.9ml). As with all things photographic, every tool is a set of compromises, and considerations here are many. The 3880 might be the better choice if you crank out a lot of prints and can take advantage of the larger volume ink carts, don’t need roll paper, and of course if you must have 17” wide capability it’s a no-brainer. But if space is limited and 13” media serves your needs, the R3000 looks to be the king of the hill in that bracket for foreseeable future.
Those using Adobe Photoshop CS5 might be interested in a White Paper describing how best to set up your computer and software to optimize performance on your system. As with most things in this business, if you want to get the most out of your equipment you’ll have to spend a little time configuring it properly. Ever larger RAW files and increased popularity of HDR and panorama merges make much larger demands on your desktop darkroom and having it run as efficiently as possible is a big time-saver.
If you’re interested in photo trends in general, take a look at this report. Smartphones won’t be taking over the whole nature photography field anytime soon, but mobile communications are having an ever-deeper impact on how we converse, allocate our time, and conduct business. Having said that, questions concerning the degree to which big mobile businesses are mining information about you has been highlighted again with the iPhone location tracking issue (and it’s not just Apple products either). If you still have any illusions of being able to keep your personal data private, it might be time for a wake.
Does video interest you? There’s little doubt that clips of recorded motion are more in demand than ever before, and that manufacturers are using video capability as an added feature in formerly still-only cameras as a forceful marketing tool. The degree to which these factors combined with the explosion of mobile communication devices and expanded wireless networks (in both coverage and speed) influence the nature of devices built to record video remains to be seen. To be sure, video-capable DSLRs to date are far from optimized for that purpose, regardless of how good the actual footage looks. For most still photographers, the step to serious video production competence is steep, time-consuming, and costly, but many are making the plunge if for no other reason than staying viable in the marketplace. In the meantime, providing training and resources in support of this effort has become a surging growth industry. Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape recently completed Part 1 of 3 in his series titled “Guide to Cinematography for Photographers.” Thom Hogan has some pertinent thoughts on the subject pertaining to impact of the trend within the manufacturing industry in his Apr 22 post. In the software department Adobe has announced Creative Suite 5.5, with the biggest changes being the addition of mobile media authoring tools and an optional monthly subscription plan that sidesteps the need to purchase the software outright. Also Apple has announced a totally rebuilt Final Cut Pro X to arrive in June. Video’s the current rage, that’s for sure.