Back in October of last year, I wrote a short article about a piece of software called Perfectly Clear, which is designed to enhance the detail and clarity of an image. The effects range from subtle to stunning. And because I could achieve pretty much the same result by hand, I couldn’t justify spending $200 for the plug-in.
Yesterday, Topaz Labs released Clarity, which does very nearly the same thing, but at a much more attractive price — $49.99 (or $29.99 until 5/31/13 with the coupon code claritynew). I figured that for $30, I’d bite. And, I’m glad I did.
I could go on about all of what Clarity offers, but Hal Schmitt at LIGHT Photographic Workshops does a great job of talking about the vital features in this video:
When I get some free time, I’ll try to post a few “before-and-after” examples of my own.
This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Photo Software Bargains
By now you all know of my penchant for good-quality, inexpensive image editing programs — especially those that are available both as mobile apps and for use on a computer. So, when it was announced that Aviary was available for Windows8, I figured I’d give it a try.
I opened a few pictures I took with my little Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9 while at the Photo Beach Bash hosted by the Coastal Camera Club in Rehobeth Beach, DE, and started to see what I could do with them.
The first thing I noticed that Aviary is slow. And compared to most of the other free or cheap software I’ve been playing with thus far, my editing options were really limited and the software is really pretty slow. Most of the very basic editing controls were there — brightness, contrast, saturation, cropping, etc. — but the special effects, which I’ve come to really enjoy playing with, were sorely lacking.
The image quality seems decent enough, but the program really doesn’t give me the kind of control I’ve become accustomed to at any level. While the images presented in this article were all edited using Aviary for Windows8, nothing was done that I couldn’t have done as easily or better and faster using the other software I already have.
Here, we see the main editing screen, once you’ve go an image file loaded (which is a less-than-straightforward process). The primary functions are shown along the bottom of the screen. Almost all of the functions are self explanatory, so I won’t spend any real time with that here.
The paltry selection of effects is illustrated here. As Porky Pig would say, “That’s all, folks!” An even dozen effects, most of which are weak and none of which are adjustable.
Aviary did launch an SDK alongside the app, which paves the way for other developers to provide enhancement (sorely needed) or integration into other apps, but I’m not even sure that’s enough to help bring Aviary up to speed any time soon. Bottom line, in my opinion? Give Aviary for Windows8 a pass. Fotor, Photoroom and Superphoto all offer more, better and for the same or only a little more money.
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Photo Equipment
It’s quite interesting to actually see the SLT-A58 in “person”. There are certainly some great innovations in the camera, especially for video shooters and beginners. I still think that for an advanced amateur or enthusiast, the SLT-A57 is the better camera at that price point.
The interesting part of the “kit” to me is the new 18-55mm lens. I haven’t had the greatest of luck with the previous version of the lens, and I find it very susceptible to lens flare. The new version of the lens apparently has a new rear element (presumably with better coatings) to reduce the flare issue. Good news there.
One of my pushes lately has been to start “pushing” my photo business again. To that end, I’ve launched a new site or Orchard Studios. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be populating that site with a new selection of photographs, and will be posting much of my new work there. I’ll also be adding short essays on photography arts there. I will continue to post photos and photo related info here as well, but much of the “art” will be there.
I’ll also be launching a new Facebook page for Orchard Studios. Exciting times are coming!
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Photo Equipment
A couple of days back, I wrote that Sony had announced their replacement for the SLT-A57. Called the SLT-A58, it initially looked as if the camera was made just for me! But, as official specs come forward, it appears that the camera could be a bit of a disappointment, as compared to the current model.
While the SLT-A58 gains the OLED EVF found on the higher-end SLT-A65, SLT-A77 and SLT-A99 models, and gets a resolution boost and slightly improved autofocus system, Sony have chosen to reduce specs in other areas.
Most notably, the rear LCD screen has been reduced from a 3″, 921,600 pixel display to a 2.7″, 460,000 pixel screen. Even my entry-level SLT-A35 has the better 3″ “XtraFine Tru-Black” display.
The screen isn’t the only downgrade, either. Here are a few other highlights — or rather, lowlights:
- The new camera forgoes Sony’s traditional metal lens mount in favor of composite plastic.
- Auto Exposure Bracketing is reduced from +/- 3 stops to +/- 2.
- Continuous frame rate is reduced to 5fps at full resolution.
- While the Sweep Panorama mode is retained, there is no mention of the Dynamic Range Optimization and in-camera HDR functions.
Based on pre-order pricing at B&H Photo and Adorama, it looks as if the price will be very similar to the SLT-A57. This for a camera that is, in some ways, a step backwards even from the previous entry-level models. This is not to say that there are not some very nice improvements to the camera. Sony’s new continuous autofocus enhancements are exciting, and the OLED viewfinder is a really big deal.
Sony is making the SLT-A57 body available at a stupid-low price, and I’m thinking that I may want to find a way to pick one up before they’re gone, or be prepared to either be disappointed or buy the much more expensive SLT-A65.
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Photo Equipment
The new Sony Alpha SLT-A58 offers features that blur the lines between entry-level and intermediate DSLR cameras — so much so that it’s bumped the SLT-A65 from the top of my “wish list” for an upgrade Sony camera body. Here’s a official video splash from Sony: