Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW Backpack Review

Equipment Review

LowePro Trekker 400AW-1
I must confess to being bit of a camera bag junky. I’ve tried loads of bags and have so far failed in my quest to find THE prefect camera backpack. I guess the perfect backpack simply doesn’t exist as there is always something that could be improved, and personal tastes vary too. However, the Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW for me, comes seriously close.
By far the majority of my previous purchases have been bags by Lowepro as I've found them particularly well constructed, but I have also sampled bags from Kata, Crumpler and Tamrac.  I’ve read countless reviews of bags too numerous to mention, and have scoured the net for useful user feedback, so with this particular purchase I took my time and did my research before I was ready to part with my hard earned cash.
The Lowepro Pro Trekker series comprises the 300, 400 and the 600 with numeric designation being related to the maximum size lens the bag can accommodate whilst attached to a camera body, thus you can fit a camera with a 400mm lens within the Pro Trekker 400 AW. It will fit the larger bodies too or those with  battery grips attached.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lightroom 3 Released

Software UPDATE

Lightroom 3

Well if you don’t know already, Abode finally released their long awaited upgrade to Lightroom with Version 3 going live yesterday.  The good news for UK residents is that it’s probably a tad cheaper than most of us were expecting, this time costing £76.88 (£63.54 ex VAT) to upgrade direct from the Adobe web site. The full version is priced at £232.65 (£198.00 ex VAT), but if you qualify for the Student/Teacher edition you can obtain the full version for a mere £64.39. Mind these prices look set to rise as a VAT hike looks imminent for the budget due on the 22nd June so if you’re planning to upgrade or buy do it before then.  Rather surprisingly the beta 2 version will still work till the 30th June. You can download a trial version, upgrade or buy from here.

The (slightly) disappointing news is that there are no big surprises, so pretty much what was available in the Beta 2 release is what you get, albeit in it it’s final polished state. The new features added since version 2 are:

  • Accelerated with a new processing engine
  • Lens Correction
  • Support for DSLR video files
  • Flexible publishing to sites like Flickr
  • Image Watermarking
  • Exportable slideshow with music (to MP4 video files)
  • Easier Importing
  • Tethered Shooting
  • Perspective Control
  • Film Grain Simulation
  • Flexible Print Packaging

There are some minor changes since the Beta 2 version however, and these are detailed by Tom Hogarty on his Lightroom Journal Blog.

As usual there are several sites already listing the new features in greater detail. Check out the Lightroom Queen Victoria Brampton’s blog for a full listing of all the new features and changes and there’s an excellent summary by Ian Lyons at the Computer-Darkroom. Videos of several of the new features are provided at the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Learning Center, courtesy of Matt Kloskowski (of Lightroom Killer Tips) and Scott Kelby of NAPP. There’s also an introduction to what’s new by Julieanne Kost on Adobe TV here. Also look out for the forthcoming Lightroom 3 Video Tutorial by Jeff Schewe and Michael Reichmann which will be soon available from the Luminous Landscape site.  I purchased and downloaded their tutorial on  Lightroom 2 when that was released which was good value and the easiest way to learn all the new features. I can thoroughly recommend any of their videos.



I upgraded my Lightroom last night which installed easily and with the new version 3 seeming more responsive than the Beta 2 version. When installing, Version 3 will automatically ask if you want to upgrade your existing catalogue to version 3, which went ahead quite seamlessly but takes a while to complete depending on the size of your catalogue. I left my running overnight. Lightroom 3 will not however, change your existing picture modifications to the use latest LR3 de-mosaic RAW processing engine (now called Process 2010, with the prior version now Process 2003). In the Develop module you may see a little exclamation icon in the lower left of your picture in Loupe mode.


This means that picture is still using the old 2003 Process engine. To upgrade simply click the icon and you are given the choice to upgrade just that photo, all selected photographs or all in the Filmstrip to the new 2010 Process. This can also be achieved through the Settings | Process menu in Develop mode.


Initial Thoughts

The lens correction and noise removal features of Lightroom 3 alone, certainly make this upgrade a thoroughly worthwhile purchase for me and probably many other photographers. Both perform very well in comparison to the stand-alone packages I use (PT-lens & Noise Ninja Pro). The processing engine (Process 2010) will cause some of your pictures to look quite different so some tweaking may be needed in places, but from what I’ve seen in the Beta 2 version, the end result is much improved. I’ll reserve comment on the accelerated processing until I’ve had more time .

It’s clear that with Lightroom 3.0, Adobe have a mature, very capable and competent product and I would have no hesitation in recommending this upgrade.


Lightroom 3 Resources

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