Smugmug vs. Flickr

If you have read some of my earlier posts you will know that I use 2 sites as my primaries for displaying my photos. I have had my Flickr Pro (www.flickr.com) account for about 3/4 of a year, and I have had my Smugmug Poweruser Account (www.smugmug.com or my site www.sysguyphotography.com) for about a month now. I also have a Picasaweb site and I use Gallery 2 software on my own site for pictures but I am moving away from those. This is just a quick comparison of the two services and what I have found out.

Accounts

Flickr offers both free and paid accounts. Free accounts are limited to 100MB per month upload but unlimited storage. Free accounts are also ad supported. For 25.00 you can get a Pro account and removes the upload limit, allows for short video uploads and is ad free.
Smugmug. There are no free accounts on Smugmug but they do have a 14 day free trial. Lowest tiered paid accounts are 39.95 USD per year and with that there are no ads, unlimited storage and uploads. Smugmug also offers Power User and Pro accounts (59.95 USD and 149.95 USD). They also have a referral program so that you can save 5.00 off your first year using a coupon or email address from a Smugmug user and they also have a special “Fleeing Flickr” promotion where you can save 50% off of their first year. Other features that come with the higher level accounts include the ability to use your own domain, right click download protection

Both services offer stats regarding your sites and what photos are being most viewed.

Photo Organization

This is how you sort and organize your photos on the various sites. With Flickr you can add your photos to sets and or collections. Collections can contain sets in them. Pro users can have more collections than standard users.

Smugmug uses Galleries to display your photos. Galleries are created under Categories and Sub categories. You can choose from their own default categories and sub categories or create your own. While I found this a little confusing at first, I have figured out the system and can now know what I am doing.

With both systems you can add your own tags to photos to make them searchable and easier to find. Also photos tagged with GPS coordinates can be viewed on maps with both services.

Both services offer uploader software to get your pictures on your site, both their own and third party applications. I have been using several free Lightroom plug-ins that allow me to export directly out of Lightroom into my various galleries and collections. Both sites have the ability to upload photos via email but Flickr does have a mobile site to upload to directly from your phone and it’s web browser.

Privacy and Viewing Permissions

Both services allow you to protect your photos if you don’t want them seen. This is important as you may want not want to display your images to the entire world. For example if I am publishing the shots I took of a minor soccer game for the parents to see and print, I want to protect those images from other prying eyes.

On Flickr, privacy settings for photos are a global default setting and are applied to the images themselves. You can set them as public, or private (sharing with Family, Friends or no one). You can easily add Copyright or Creative Commons usage rights with just a click to your photos.

Smugmug offers a lot more control at the Gallery level for your Privacy. You can create “SmugIslands”  Permissions are set based on two categories and are granular from there. There is a Hello World Setting meaning anyone can see the Gallery (including search engines like Google) and you can set it to all, only your homepage or no. The other setting is Hello Smuggers which allows for your photos to be searchable from within Smugmug search boxes. You can also do other things at the gallery level including creating unlisted galleries (that unless you have the exact URL you can’t find, you can password protect a gallery or you can do both. As the owner you can see all of your galleries all the time. Power users can also Right Click protect their images and Pro users can add mark ups to print prices and sell digital downloads of the images.

Viewing Experience

This is one of the things that I really look at. What is the experience for the people viewing your pictures. Your Flickr Homepage has limited options for customization. There are a few options for layouts but for the most part all of your images but you really can’t do a lot of customization to your site.

Smugmug really shines here. Not only can you (or allow your viewers) to change the layout of your gallery, but you can customize the themes and the page itself. Power and Pro users can replace the headers and footers of the page. When a viewer gets to your gallery page they can see the thumbnails of the photos in the gallery and when they click on it a larger image of the image is shown. This display is stetchy so if your visitor is viewing from a large widescreen monitor their picture will be the largest it can be. The display actually scales nicely on all of the different screens I have tried form 12.1″ to 24″.

Both services offer a slideshow display that is basically the same.

Content

One of the things I like to do is to browse other photos that users have uploaded. I like to see good photographs just to enjoy or to get some tips on taking some pictures. I have also used these type of sites to download pictures for use in kids school projects (and yes I only use images that are allow this type of use). One of things that I have found is that since there are no free accounts on Smugmug and because there are a lot of Professional Photographers there, the quality of the images seem to be better. There are some outstanding photos on Flickr there also tends to be a lot more in the way of family snapshots etc so it makes them a little harder to find. One way of finding great shots though is via the groups on Flickr.

While Smugmug has a similar thing to Flickr’s groups (called communities) the social and community aspect of Flickr is much better. To be fair I haven’t played around with the Smugmug Communities all that much yet, but I still find myself going to the Flickr groups on a regular basis.

One of the nicest features of the groups on Flickr are the discussion boards where you can read and ask questions of other members with the same likes and dislikes. I have found some very good tips and tricks in the groups forums. There are groups for just about everything including; camera types, lenses, locations, subjects etc.

My Conclusions

While I really like both sites a lot, I think the edge has to go to Smugmug. While they lack the community aspect of Flickr, the visual presentation of your photos, the customization and the extra features really make it worth while. Will I give up my Flickr account? No I will renew it, I will still use it to share photos, participate in groups and post my photos to the various groups. When I have images that I would like to protect they will all be uploaded to my Smugmug site. If I decide I want to sell some of my photos, I will probably upgrade to a Smugmug Pro account. Smugmug just added a new feature to their site called SmugVault. If you are interested in finding out what this is please read my previous post.

 

Cool new Smugmug feature

This past weekend the photo sharing website rolled out a cool new feature. They have partnered with Amazon S3 to offer a new SmugVault feature.

So what is SmugVault? SmugVault is an interface built into the Smugmug site that allows you to back up your photos (and all types of documents) to servers located in Amazon Data Centres around the world. This is a great way to have offsite backups of your photos and important documents.

The cost of the service is not free however it is not that expensive. There is a 1.00 USD per month charge and then charges based on your usage. It costs .22 cents per Gigabyte per month to store your data on Amazons servers. There is also bandwidth charges of .30 per GB to transfer into Amazon and .50 per GB to download from Amazon.

Your data is accessible from any browser that you can access your Smugmug account from. If you think of the cost of these services vs. doing the backup yourself there can be considerable savings. An external drive can cost about 100.00 – 120.00 for 500 GB. In addition you have to maintain it and pay for power to keep it running. If you fill that you have to buy another drive. If you want to do offsite storage with it you have to take it somewhere safe and store it. Your cost for the storage itself is about .20 per GB as a one time charge until the drive fills up. In addition if you are away form home you can’t access your documents unless you have set up a method of accessing your home computer. Although we recommend that you store important documents in at least two places  for backup purposes (Computer and external Hard Drive).

For a little more you can have your data stored in secure data centres which protects it in case of catastrophe at your home.

Anyone can sign up to use the Amazon S3 service at a cheaper rate however you have to design your own interface to the service. There are other ways of getting the services cheaper via other offerings. Personally I use Jungledisk (http://www.jungledisk.com) to interface with S3. Please watch here for a review of the Jungledisk service in the next little while.

If you are looking for a great Photo sharing service with excellent service and offerings I can’t stress enough to look at smugmug! You can save 5.00 off your first years membership by putting my coupon code (UgaKIvXVMo0Y) in the referred by box when signing up. If you want to see some of my photos at Smugmug visit, http://www.sysguyphotography.com

Smugmug vs Flickr

Since joining Smugmug a little while ago, I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at published photos both on Flickr and Smugmug. I have to say that I am very impressed with the members of Smugmug. Browsing the days popular photos always amazes me with some of the talent that is there. There are some stunning images being published there.

I find that while Flickr has a large number of outstanding photos as well, it is a little more difficult to sort through all of the cell phone pics etc.

Check out both

Smugmug http://www.smugmug.com/browse/

Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/

 

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom…My Review

About a year ago, Jan 07, Adobe introduced a product called Photoshop Lightroom. The program was billed as a Photographer’s workflow tool designed by photographers for photographers. I looked at it briefly but didn’t really pay too much attention to it.

Fast forward to December of 2007 and I was browsing the Photoshop site at Adobe for something, when I started watching a flash promo for Lightroom. The little promo film intrigued me and I thought that this program was definitely something that I could use to manage my pictures. I downloaded the 30 day demo onto my MacBook Pro and started playing with it (Don’t worry it is available on Windows too). Within an hour and a half of playing with it I was sold and ordered the full version and I couldn’t be happier.

There are programs that I like to use, but rarely has a piece of software caught my attention so much that I wanted to use it all of the time! Lightroom has become one of them.

Is it for everyone? No. But if you take a lot of digital photos, have the need to tag and organize these and want to do some processing it could help you. If you have a need for a lot of specialized post processing, it will not replace a Photoshop or dedicated image editor. It’s strengths really are for workflow and quick processing on lots of pictures. It is not the cheapest software out there either at 325.00, but it is half the cost of Photoshop. In comparison Apple sells Aperture which is a similar application for 199.00 but only runs on Macs.

What is it?

How can I describe Lightroom? Lightroom is an application that helps anyone with a large number of digital photos to organize them, tag them and perform some post processing on the photos. The best thing about the application though is that the changes you make are non destructive to the original photos until you decide to "bake" them in! In terms of the photo processing, if you have ever used any applications that utilize Adobe Camera Raw, or Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, you will have seen some of the power of Lightroom. I have heard Lightroom described as Camera Raw on steroids. Another really nice feature is that the changes also work on all image files and not just RAW formats, so you can make changes to your jpg files and tif files too.

In addition Lightroom can export your photos and your changes to files, the web, slideshows or prints. It is when you perform these exports that the changes are "baked in" to the exported files. In addition with version 1.3 that was released as a free upgrade in November, developers can now create plugins to expand the use of the software. I currently use 5 export plug-ins that allow me to export directly to my Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug or Gallery 2.0 online photo galleries. I also use the LRMogrify which allows for some editing colour correction as well as add Watermarks to the files during export. I have donated to the author so I now have the full version that allows me to export more than 10 photos at a time.

How it Works.

When you open Lightroom for the first time, it asks you to create a catalogue file. This catalogue file is database file that stores the meta data from your pictures as well a corresponding preview database is also created. The database file can be created anywhere on your system or external devices with the exclusion of network storage devices. Once the Lightroom catalogue file is created you can import photos into it from your computer or directly from your digital camera or other media.

Here is a tip on how I have been handling my catalogue files. When I travel I download all of my pictures onto whatever laptop I have with me as well as on to a removable hard drive at the same time. When I want to import photos into Lightroom I create the catalogue files on the removable hard drive device and import those pictures into Lightroom, selecting import from folder. Doing it this way allows me to plug the external drive into another system that has Lightroom installed on it, open the catalogue and edit the pictures regardless of what machine the files were created on. It allows me to work on my various laptops or on my desktop. In addition I could always copy the folders and catalogue files to another storage device later and keep all of my adjustments. 

I have not imported a lot of files into the same catalogue file yet either as I am not sure how performance would be or what the max size of the database is. By keeping my catalogues to all of the photos of a single trip or event, then I am using smaller catalogue files and making them easier to move around. Also if a database does get corrupted not all of my adjustments are in the one file. It does make a little trickier to search photos though as I have to open catalogue files for each group of photos that I may want to search keywords on. Lightroom does have the ability to back up and create scheduled back ups of your catalogue files as well and you are prompted when you start Lightroom with a catalogue file.

Lightroom is divided into 5 modules, Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web.

Library.  The Library module is where you can view your pictures, edit metadata (keywords copyright info), make picks as to what photos you want to process and rate your photos. You can even apply some quick development settings. You can search for keywords in your photos, sort by camera, date or even lens used to take the picture.

Develop. The Develop module is where the real power of Lightroom is. Here there are a number of settings where you can tweak and adjust your image. What is very important to note here is that any changes that you make here do not affect the original images. The editing process is completely non-destructive. All changes are stored in the database itself and not "baked" into the image until the image is exported or printed. You can also crop photos (again non destructively) heal spots and fix red eye. You can adjust White Balance (more options if you shoot RAW images), tone, tweak a tone curve, adjust colour saturations, split tone, reduce noise, apply sharpening and more. 
One thing to note though is that adjustments apply to the whole image and can’t be applied selectively, so while Lightroom can do just about everything a photographer needs, if you want to be really creative you will still need an external editor like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
You can select the images you want based on the criteria set in the Library module.
Lightroom comes with a wide variety of presets to apply certain effects to your images (such as converting to B&W or applying a Sepia tone). In addition you can save your own presets. This is very valuable as you can adjust one image from a shoot and then apply all the changes to all of the images from that shoot, and save it for later use.
You can save changes to a virtual copy as well so that you can save your changes as one photo and then have the original as well.
If you do need the additional power of an external editor, you can move directly from Lightroom into Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or any other Image editor. The advantage of using the Adobe products mentioned is that you can work on the image in those applications, hit save and because the data is stored in a sidecar XMP file bring those changes into Lightroom.

Slideshow The slideshow module allows you to create an Adobe PDF slide show of your photos. There are some customized options that allow you to create background images, apply your identity plate, adjust the layout and more. Again you can save presets of your favorite styles.

Print. The print module allows you to create prints of your photos. There are several layouts available as presets or you can create your own custom layouts and again save your preset for later use.

Web. In this module you can create Flash based or HTML web galleries that you can publish to your own web sites. Again there is several options for customization and the ability to use presets and save presets.

Presets.
A little word about presets. Lightroom comes with a large number of presets for every module. As I indicated you can also create and save your own presets. In addition several users are creating and making presets available on the Internet that you can download and use in your software.

My Workflow with Lightroom

I shoot a large number of Digital Photos especially using 3 cameras (Canon 30D, 40D and Powershot G9). When we travel there also also images that come from the kids cameras and my video cameras. Here are a couple of ways that I use Lightroom. One is to pick, adjust and export images from a family trip to a Photo Sharing web site and the other is how I handle shooting a soccer game where I just sort and pick images for sharing online.

Importing Photos.
The start of my workflow is a little different because of the way I deal with my photos. Because I store images in a couple of places, I don’t use Lightroom to copy pictures off of my media cards, although it can. I import photos using a card reader and the Canon Media Card program. This program is set up to import my pictures to a folder created based on the date that the image was taken. Once all of my images are imported to the PC, I then copy the folders to an external drive. It is from this external drive that I import the pictures into Lightroom.

Once all of my folders are copied to an external drive, I open Lightroom. For something like a trip I create a new catalogue specifically for that trip. Likewise this year I am shooting a variety of soccer teams for my community soccer association, so I have a catalogue set up just for those images. Something that I just recently learned about Lightroom is that I can import other catalogues into a master catalogue as well.

So I have a new catalogue file and I am ready to bring the images in. In Lightroom I select the file import photos from disk option. I point the file browser to a folder that I want to import folders from. Once the folder is chosen I can choose not to import suspected duplicates. If all of the photos are from the same location and time I will add the keywords I want to use with them, If they are from a variety of subjects I will just use general keywords (like Hawaii, Trip etc). I also add my copyright information to each photo.

Once I have imported all of my folders, I go into the library mode and if I want to add specific keywords to certain folders, I use the thumbnail view and the spray can tool to add the specific keywords. Next I go into single photo view and using the arrow keys and the p key (to pick an image) I pick all of the images that I may consider exporting. Once I have gone through the folder and picked the images I set a colour flag for those images (say yellow). I then go through the images again and unpick any that I will not export using the U key. I then usually take one more pass at them. Once I have the files that I want to export I select all and change the colour flag to another colour based on where I want to export them (I have developed my own settings for example I use green for Smugmug exports).

Once I have selected my pictures I change to the develop module and filter the images that I want "picked with green colour flag" and process each one, fixing red eye, adjusting exposures, cropping etc.

Once all files are processed I use an free export plug in I have and export those photos to the site and the gallery that I want. for pictures of a soccer game that I want to export I usually use the same process but do not do any processing of the images.

In this way I can go through a large number of images quickly and export to them to the web. For example last night I went through 580 images shot at a soccer game, selected 260 that I was going to export, and exported them to Smugmug all from Lightroom. Total time for three passes to select was about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. The way I used to do this took a considerably longer amount of time, as I would import the images to my PC, then using Canon’s Image browser go through and select pictures writing down the ones I wanted. I would then select and copy those images to another folder. Then use a batch resize to make them smaller and then another piece of software to export them. This sometimes took me a couple of days to accomplish! It would have been even longer if I had wanted to process any of the images!

You can see the results of one of these processes by going to the following site Smugmug Kauai 2008 gallery.

The Future

Adobe has recently released the Lightroom 2.0 public beta. You can download a 30 day trial of the Beta now, and existing Lightroom, will be able to use the Beta until the end of August. The beta is installed separately from your existing Lightroom installation and both can be used at the same time.

Version 2 allows for localized correction, so you can work on a specific area of a photo. 64 bit support, better organizational tools, better print package functionality and Multiple monitor support. In addition if Adobe stays true to form, updates to the new Lightroom will continue to add new features as they did with Version 1.0. I really like the changes I have seen in Beta 2.0 and will probably have it within a fews day of it’s release sometime this summer or fall.

Conclusions

Once I started playing around with Lightroom, I started kicking myself for not looking into it earlier. Now that I use it extensively on both my PC and MAC I can’t be without it. It has peaked my interest in photography again and I am shooting more and more. My workflow has changed and I have switched my cameras to only shoot RAW images because they are so easy to post process with Lightroom. I still shoot jpg only for sports photography.

While Lightroom comes with a fairly hefty price tag and doesn’t replace Photoshop, for someone that takes a lot of pictures, especially of you shoot with a DSLR and RAW images. I feel that it is an indispensable tool!

 

Photo Sharing on the Web

A few years ago, I heard someone say Digital Cameras are great but they never see the pictures that people take like they did when they had prints. When I thought about this I realized that it was true.

I take a lot of digital photos myself and in the past have been publishing to my own web sites and displaying them using server software called Gallery 2. But what if you don’t have your own web site?

I use three public sites for publishing and sharing my photos now. Picasaweb, Flickr and Smugmug. Here is some info on these three Photo sharing sites

Picasaweb http://picasaweb.google.com. Picasaweb is a free Photo sharing site from Google. You can make your Albums and photos public or private. They give you 1 GB of free storage space and you have the option to buy more (1 GB equates to around 4000 pictures). You can also download Picasa photo software which allows you to organize edit and post all pictures in your collections.

One of the things I don’t like about Picasaweb however is the way albums are displayed. All of the public albums are displayed on a single page so if you have lots of albums it can take a while to load the page.

You can see my picasaweb gallery at http://picasaweb.google.com/srkennedy.

Flickr http://www.flickr.com. Flickr is a free photo sharing site brought to you by Yahoo. Flickr has gotten very popular over the last few years. They offer both free accounts and Pro accounts. Free accounts do have some limits, there is advertising, as well as a 100MB upload limit per month. You are also limited in creating collections and sets. A Pro account that has all of the limits and advertising removed costs 25.00 USD per year (well worth it in my opinion).

Again you can control who has access to your photos, add keyword tags to make your photos searchable, edit your photos online and your visitors can view the photos in a variety of photo sizes. Visitors can also add comments to your photos.

Something fairly new with Flickr is that Pro users can now also upload short videos to the site.

Flickr is a considered to be a community site. You can add your friends sites to your account and see whenever they upload new photos, as well there are thousands of groups that you can join that have photo pools where you can add your photos and discussion groups where you can ask questions related to the group and photos.

Uploading photos is easy as you can use the free Flickr uploader software or many photo editing software packages will allow you to upload directly to Flickr from the application. I have a free plug in for Adobe Lightroom 1.3 and greater that allows me to upload directly to Flickr.

One of the problems that I have run into with Flickr is that images can easily be used by others. When you upload a photo you can choose the type of license that the photo is uploaded with. This license can be private, public or using creative commons you can select different licensing terms. However there is no real way (other than making images private) that you can protect your images. I have used Flickr to find photos for my kids school projects and downloaded them (yes I only selected public images). With this shortfall Flickr is not a good choice for professional photographers.

Flickr also offers stats so you can see how many times your photos are viewed.

All in all I really like Flickr and will continue with my own Pro account for a while. If you want to see my photos please visit http://www.flickr.com/sysguy

Smugmug http://www.smugmug.com . I found Smugmug via the discussion groups on Flickr. It is a site that a lot of professional photographers use to display images for their clients as well as to sell their photographs. Smugmug does not have any free accounts but they do offer three levels of accounts, Standard, Poweruser and Pro however they do offer a two week free trial. One of the big reasons I like Smugmug is the way that they display photographs for your visitors. When you upload photos they create a flash based web gallery with thumbnails of your images and when your visitor moves through the thumbnails the selected photo appears in a larger window beside the gallery. Your visitor can also click on the photo and choose several sizes of the photo to view. As with the other sites your visitors can also view a slideshow of your photos (or you can control what and how they see).

The Standard accounts offer unlimited storage, the ability to order backup DVDs, your visitors can order prints, personalization of your galleries, the ability to hide your galleries and more. A Standard account costs 39.95 USD per year. Power Users accounts (what I have) for 59.95 USD/year, give the same features as the standard accounts, plus the ability to customize more using headers and footers, add DVD quality videos, use your own domain names and right click protect your images so they can’t be downloaded if you choose. Pro accounts (149.95 USD/year) include all of the features of the Standard and Pro Accounts as well as the ability to set your own pricing for your prints (make some money), sell digital downloads, watermark your images, create guest upload passwords and offer more protection features. If you are interested in getting a Smugmug account you can save 5.00 using my coupon code (XUgaKlvXVMo0Y), just enter this in the referred by field in the sign up. Alternatively you can add use my email address if you know it.

There are also other specials, if you are a Flickr user you can save 50% on the first year by moving your account over as well.

Smugmug gives you the ability to add keywords and captions to your photos and edit them on line. Your visitors can add comments and rate your photos as well as order prints and gifts.

Again Smugmug has all kids of tools that you can use to upload your photos and you can upload directly from several photo editing applications. I have a plug in that I use from Adobe Lightroom 1.3 to upload directly.

Privacy is very easy on Smugmug as you can create Smugislands that protect your galleries from search engines and other users stumbling across it. In addition you can password protect your galleries as well. This is one of the reasons I chose Smugmug as I have an assignment coming up that will allow me to post the images privately in an unlisted gallery (the viewers will need the exact url to see the gallery) and  I can also password protect the gallery.

Smugmug also is a community based site so you can add friends or families accounts. Your visitors can also get an RSS feed of your galleries and they can view any uploaded photos in their RSS reader.

Smugmug’s stats can show you how often an image has been viewed and in what sizes.

At first I found Smugmug a little difficult to figure out, but after playing a little bit I am getting more comfortable with it.

If you want to see what I have dome with Smugmug visit my site at http://www.sysguyphotography.com

If you are interested in becoming a Smugmugger please be sure to use my coupon code, XUgaKlvXVMo0Y to save 5.00 off your account.

Digital Camera Reviews and Real World Pictures!

I do get asked a fair bit, what digital camera should someone buy? The answer is always it depends. It depends on what the person wants to spend, what features they are looking for and how they will use the pictures. There are four things that I do when I am looking at cameras for myself or family members.

1) Check the manufacturers web site for detailed descriptions and specifications

2) Read independent reviews. There are 2 main sites that I use for this. www.dpreview.com and www.steves-digicams.com. Both sites provide excellent review of almost all digital cameras. Update Mar 19, 2008. You can also see end user reviews at www.amazon.com. I would take these with a grain of salt however as they are from end users and may not be entirely accurate. Someone may be mad at Amazon, the manufacturer or not even have owned or used the camera. Read several reviews there, the ones that are false or fake become evident the more you read.

3) Check out real world images taken with the camera. By going to www.flickr.com/cameras you can browse by manufacturer and camera to see pictures taken with those cameras. Since these pages are generated using Meta Data in the images, they are not easily faked.

4) Google the camera for other real world reviews from photography and store forums a well as Googleing a more specific search for pricing for my city.

Following the above steps I can find cameras (although I usually look for specific models), read reviews from professionals and regular users. See some regular user photos and not just shots taken by Pros and get an idea about pricing and availability. Most often I buy my cameras from smaller specialized stores (Vistek, The Camera Store or Saneal’s) rather than from big box stores. Pricing and availability are usually better in the smaller stores.

One thing I try to avoid is going into a store, talking to a salesperson and then going in somewhere else to buy it at a better price. This is not really fair to the employee that helps you, especially if they are commissioned sales people.

Do your research before going into a store and the experience will save you time and money!

One word of caution though. Beware of purchasing from US online stores. Warranties are often different between the US and Canada and if you do have problems with a camera that was purchased through the US often you will have to send the camera to the US Warranty Depot as opposed to the Canadian one. This only delays the time that it takes to get the camera repaired and adds shipping expenses. A perfect example is for Canon Cameras. Canon has a repair depot right in Calgary and if there is ever a problem you can just take your camera there. I have had to do this in the past when a camera was dropped (not by me) and the lens was damaged and required repairs.

My Latest Lust!

I have been reading and hearing a lot of great things about the Canon Powershot G9 digital Camera. This little camera, while being compact is one of the best cameras on the market today. Pro’s serious Amateurs are all using this little camera. Why it takes incredible pictures. It features several shooting modes and manual controls, 12 MP images and the ability to shoot raw.

While I love my two camera bodies, A Canon 30D and a Digital Rebel XT, these are both fairly large Digital SLR cameras. I have been playing with the idea of getting a small camera I could carry everywhere for some time now. Unfortunately I wanted the power to shoot raw and most of the previous generations could not do that.

There are many instances when I want to snap pictures and the camera in my Blackberry is just too poor.

This camera has also been very popular as it is sold out almost everywhere in Calgary. I am on a couple of waiting lists so I am hoping for a call soon.

This purchase if and when I get it, will the delay my other planned purchase of a Canon 40D body. I got my 30D a week before Canon announced the 40D and normally would not have been too concerned. The 40D however has some features that I really could use, mainly live view focusing on the viewfinder. This could come in very useful for my astrophotography as trying to focus something via the tiny viewfinder when connected to a telescope is very difficult.

I had thought of selling the 30D body but my daughter has announced that she is taking my Rebel XT when I get a new body. I like having two bodies because when we travel I like having different lenses mounted and I don’t miss shots trying to change lenses.

This was so evident when we were in Hawaii last year on a snorkeling trip. I had my camera set up with a very long zoom lens (Canon F4 70-200 L and a 1.4 Tamron Tele Extender) in order to shoot the whales that were all around the boat. On the way to our second dive site, we cruised into a pod of about 100 Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. They stayed and played with the boat for a while. As these animals come and go as they please, I didn’t want to risk going in and changing lenses and missing the show. With two cameras I could have used a shorter lens for the dolphins that were close to the boat. Even having the smaller point and shoot would have been ideal.

The plan is if I get the new G9 is that it will come everywhere with me so that I am always ready to shoot.