Thursday, May 21, 2009

Green Screen Wizard Software Review

I love photo processing software!

I use Photoshop CS4.

Hey, did you know you can get Photoshop products for 80% below retail at the Adobe Education Store. -- That is if you are an educator or a secondary student? Just thought you might be interested. (That's the only way I could do it.)

Otherwise, I would use Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate
(Full $99.99 $59.99 - Ends Midnight 05/31/09)

OK, so I came across this new plugin for Photoshop (and it's not just a plugin - there is a stand alone version if you don't have Photoshop.) It's called Green Screen Wizard.

Have your heard of Chroma Key processing? It's been used in video for years. Like when the weather dude is standing in front of the weather map, but he really isn't. Instead, he is in front of a green screen, and they can superimpose his body in front of the weather map.

It's really funny when he wears a green tie, and you can see the weather map where the tie is.

Well, the makers of Green Screen Wizard have taken this chroma key concept and created software that is for photographers.

It is a great product, making the process sooo much better than "cutting" out your model and "pasting" him or her into a new background. I have done this so many times, and it takes quite a bit of skill and time to do it right. Even then, it may look like unnatural.

Here's one I did using the cut and paste method. It's my granddaughter standing in the doorway of a 10" tall Lincoln Log house. Took me probably an hour.

However, now all I need to do is put the subject in front of a green (or blue) screen, shoot the photo and process the image with Green Screen Wizard. The makers have used a formula that actually integrates the two images together so it does not look pasted.

I suggest you give it a try. You can download a free demo of Green Screen Wizard to try it out before committing your hard earned cash.

Of course, you will need a screen. Green Screen Wizard also has a screen you can buy (surprise!), but I have checked prices, and theirs is actually cheaper than any I could find on Amazon or the photo sales sites.

Oh, did I mention that this is NOT just a plugin for Photoshop. You can get the software as a stand alone application, too.

Read my real review HERE. There is much more information and some great sample photos.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Two Digital Rebels - How Can I Decide?

There seems to be a ton of interest in the comparison of the newest Canon Rebel models.
So I thought I would weigh in again on the subject.

First, let me say that once you make your decision, no matter which camera you choose, you will not be disappointed. Both cameras record fantastic images.

If there is one thing that every reviewer agrees upon, it is the image quality of the Rebel matches or exceeds that of other entry level DSLR's.

But let's talk about Creative Auto. What is that?

Check out this nifty animation. I grabbed it from the Canon website. They have added a new setting on the selection wheel called "CA" - you guessed it - Creative Auto.

Here's how Canon describes it: "the Creative Auto mode — as the name suggests — lets the photographer apply the creative effects he or she wants, but in a friendly, automatic way that doesn’t force them to get into aperture numbers, exposure compensation numbers and so on."

Settings that are available to manipulate using Creative Auto include:
  • Background: Blurred <--> Sharp
  • Exposure: Darker <--> Brighter
  • Picture Style - Choose between “Standard”, “Smooth skin tones”, “Vivid blues and greens”, and Monochrome image”.
  • Image Quality - nothing new here, just easier to get to on the LCD screen
  • Drive Mode - single shot or continuous advance (up to 3.4frames per second), again, not new, just easier access
This feature has migrated to the Rebel T1i from the higher end cameras, the 5D and the 50D. One reviewer has mentioned that it helps newer photographers handle the camera.

So, while this is a nifty feature, is it worth the extra money (about $200) you have to pay for the new Rebel T1i over the not-so-old version, the Rebel XSi?

Other upgrades are a newer image processor - the DIGIC 4, and movie mode.

The DIGIC III in the Rebel XSi is still a very fine processor, and movie mode...

You have to decide whether you want to spend the extra money to get these features.

From my experience with the Canon Digital Rebel 300D (that's the original version from a few years back), the images were fantastic. Many photographers will tell you it's not the camera as much as who is holding the camera.

HERE is where I have added some other comparisons of the two Digital Rebels.

May the good photos be yours!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Canon has released a new version of the Digital Rebel - it's the T1i.

This comes only a year after a similar version (the Canon Digital Rebel XSi) was released.

So what's up?

Well, this one has video capabilities, as well as, something called Creative Auto.

The pricetag is similar to new Rebel releases - $899 which includes a 18-55mm IS Kit lens.

This is not a bad deal. In fact every Digital Rebel that Canon has released has been a good deal.

It's mainly because of the great product the Digital Rebel has been. This little entry level DSLR produces great photos. And now the sensor size is up to 15.1 megapixels!

But WAIT. Do you really want to take video footage with your DSLR?

Most folks buy a DSLR for the flexibility of lens choice and quality of still photos.

I have seen the video image quality of point and shoot cameras, and I have seen a video produced by the new Rebel T1i. It's OK, but it's definitely not Hollywood quality.

The price of the Digital Rebel XSi (in the $710 neighborhood) will save you almost $200. Image quality is just as good, and you get all the other features and controls you would get for the extra 200 bucks.

But, Oh, I forgot about the Creative Auto!

It turns out that Creative Auto is one of the features from compact point and shoot cameras that is not all that reliable. It's for those who don't want to learn how to use their camera to its fullest.

If you're buying a DSLR, I think you should learn to use it. (just my opinion)

So, I still would go with the Canon Digital Rebel SXi.

At least that's "the way eye see it".

Want more of a comparison? I thought so.

Here it is: Compare the Canon Digital Rebel XSi and T1i.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Canon Powershot SX200 IS - News

The Canon Powershot SX200 IS has been named the most popular camera on for the month of April!

This is amazing, because the SX200 was not even on the list the month before.

What does this mean?

I'm only guessing, but I think it's because buyers are realizing the value for money you get with the Powershot SX200 IS.

When you consider 12 megapixels and 12x zoom, AND 30 minutes of HD video recording capability... the list goes on.

Did I mention Image Stabilization?

Let me give you a hint about buying. Amazon has the Canon Powershot SX200 IS for $332.44 with FREE shipping. (Everywhere else I checked, it was selling for $349)

CLICK HERE to jump on this deal.