Ken Goldstein Photography is based in Townsville, Queeensland.  Our gallery has a wide selection of images from North Queensland and around Australia  

   






16 July 2012

MACBOOK PRO RETINA REVIEW FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS


Let me start by saying that this is a non-technical review.  There are enough technical reviews of the new Apple MacBook Retina out there.  This is a hands-on preliminary review after a week of using the new MacBook Retina.

My first impression of the new Apple MacBook Pro Retina is WOW!  It is simply the best computer (both laptop and desktop) that I have ever owned.   I was not going to get one.  I was going to wait until an iMac Retina came out, hopefully later in the year.  Then I went in to my Local Next Byte store (We don’t have an Apple store here in Townsville, but Next Byte is the next best thing) and had a play with the new MacBook Pro Retina. 

I immediately noticed how sharp the display was.  Ever since I got my new iPad with Retina display back in March, every other computer screen (except for my iPhone 4s) has looked like crap.  There is no other way to put it.  Even my 27” mid 2010 iMac display looked fuzzy and pixelated compared to the retina display on the iPad.  Part of me wanted to purchase this badass computer right there and then.  Then I came to the obvious questions every professional photographer has to ask before buying a computer, “Can I calibrate the display to accurately display color?”  No one knew.  I could not find any reviews on the Internet from someone that had actually calibrated one using a Spyder Pro or other professional calibration tool.  I also was hoping that Apple would release a retina iMac sooner then later.

After a couple more weeks of reading over reviews, I finally found a review where someone had said that they had in fact calibrated the retina display and that it calibrated correctly.  I could not wait any longer, I had to have one.  So off I went back to my local Next Byte store and got my hands on one.

This was a really huge decision to make as I was used to using a 27” iMac .  For a professional photographer, screen real estate is important and after using a 27” iMac for the past couple of years, I had been spoiled with screen real estate.  I also knew that once I started using the retina display, I could never go back to using a non-retina display.  Hopefully Apple will release a 27” retina cinema display and I can go back to enjoying my much missed screen real estate.

Ok, lets get into it.  First things first, the screen is just as sharp as Apple claims.  No doubt about it.  I have good vision.  I am a professional photographer.  I can see pixilation in images that most people would not.  The display is razor sharp.

Color calibration.  The first thing I did when I got the new MacBook Retina home was to calibrate the display using my Spyder Pro 3.  I had no problems calibrating the display.  The colors look amazingly accurate.  This is a very big deal.  I have steered clear of laptops for the past few years as I had not been able to find one that you can actually color calibrate accurately.  That is until now.  I can now actually process images in the field.  As I am primarily a travel and landscape photographer, I have not had the requirement to rush images out to clients.  I shoot thousands of images in the field and it normally takes me about a month to edit through and process all of the images.  Having a laptop that can accurately display colors means that I can now process in the field to check my work before leaving a location.  Yes I know pros have been doing that for years, but as I said, I have yet to find any laptop that could accurately display colors.

Performance.  I went from using a 27” 2010 iMac with a 2.8GHz i5 and 16GB of ram to the base model MacBook Pro Retina with a 2.3GHz i7 and 8Gb of ram.  I was not sure of the base model would be fast enough, but I knew I could always give my wife this one and get the higher end model if it wasn’t fast enough.  I am glad I made that choice.  It saved me over $700 from going with the top end model at $3199 here in Australia.  The $2499 model is actually still faster then my high end 2010 iMac.  That’s right, faster.  And I tested it using not just Photoshop CS6, but Premier Pro CS6 , After Effects CS6 and Final Cut Pro as well.  I am not going to talk about benchmarks.  As I said in the beginning of this blog, there are enough reviews out there for that.

Adobe CS6.  What can I say, all CS6 programs look like absolute shit on the new retina display.  The interface on Lightroom 4 looks better then the interface for Photoshop CS6, but both are unusable for a professional photographer.  There is just too much pixilation in the images.  Zoom in, zoom out, no difference.  The images just look like shit.  There is really no other way to describe it.  This means that I am currently without a way to properly process my images until Adobe updates CS6 for retina display.  I am hoping that this happens sooner then later.  In the mean time, I will just keep all my raw images from my shoots, until such time as Adobe updates their software.

Office for Mac 2011.  Looks like even more shit than the Adobe programs does.  I am writing this blog using Word and it is so pixilated, I am getting a headache looking at the screen.  Given Microsoft’s track record for updating their software for Mac, I don’t expect a fix form them until at least the next version of Office for Mac is released.

Aperture and Final Cut Pro.  Both of these programs look amazingly sexy on the new MacBook Pro Retina.  I could not believe how good my images looked using Aperture.  Unfortunately, Aperture is not really compatible for Photoshop files with layers.  I don’t really do much work to my images in Photoshop, but I do use Photoshop heavily for web graphics and logos, etc.   And I had to make a choice between using Lightroom or Aperture and that was the deciding factor for me.  Lightroom can open any multi layer Photoshop images, Aperture can’t.    I do use Final Cut Pro as much as I use Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro truly does look good on the retina display.

Other programs and the web.  As soon as the new iPad with retina display came out in March, I had been working on upgrading my website to be retina display compatible.  That basically meant completely redoing all of the images and graphics on my website.  No small feat.  I am glad that I did though, because unlike most other websites, mine looks razor sharp on a retina display. My web address is www.kengoldstein.com.au for those that have access to a retina display.  Check out my website, then compare it to another one that is not retina compatible.  You will see the difference.  In regards to other programs, it is hit or miss, most non-Apple programs do not look to good on the retina display, but in time, I am sure most programs will get with the times and do software updates to be properly retina display compatible.

Final Thoughts.  If you are a professional photographer that needs to process images immediately, either wait for adobe to update their CS6 software, or ensure that you have access to a non-retina display to use in the mean time.  Beware though, once you get used to using the retina display, all other non-retina displays look fuzzy and pixilated. Or if you use Aperture, then no worries at I said before, Aperture looks amazing on the new MacBook Pro Retina.

Overall, I am happy that I made the decision to get the new Apple MacBook Pro Retina. It looks oh so good, and it is fast, really fast.  I just wish Adobe would update CS6, really soon.

I will post further blogs on the MacBook Retina as I use it more over the coming weeks.

12 July 2010

CONVERTING TO THE DIGITAL WORLD AND HELPING PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT DOING IT

My conversion to the digital world started about 4 years ago when I fully changed from film to digital photography. I then scanned all of my existing film onto hard drives. I had to wait to change to digital photography until the quality of digital was as good as film. It took me a little while to get used to digital, but I have never looked back in changing over. When I was using film, I would end up throwing away 90% of the film I shot, as you always edit your images and only keep the very best from each scene. That equated to a lot of film being thrown away. Now with digital, I just delete the images I don’t want and keep the rest. No film to clog up landfills.


Over the past couple of years, I have gradually changed over as much of my life as possible to the digital world. Music was next on the list. I had already converted some of my music to play on my MP3 players and iphones, but I still had all of my compact discs sitting on a bookcase. I ended up buying a DVD player for my vehicle a couple of years ago that plays SD cards, my wife’s new car we bought last year also plays SD cards. So about 12 months ago, I converted all of my music to a digital format and put all of my compact discs in storage in the garage.

Next on my list, I decided that I had too many DVD’s taking up too much room around my house, so I started converting all of them to a digital format. Now, with the exception of my blue-ray movies, the hundreds of DVD’s I had all over the house are now packed away in storage as well. I have a hard drive with all of the movies we own hooked up to the TV, and I can upload them to either my computer or my iphone to watch. So why keep all of these DVD’s laying around? The last part of my life to convert to digital was all the stacks of paper taking up my filing cabinets.

I spent the last few days going through and scanning everything that was in the filing cabinet, like bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, utility bills, etc. Just about all of my bank statements and bills can be downloaded off of the internet now, so I have opted to not receive paper bills or statements from most of my banks, credit card companies, phone company, etc. I ended up throwing around 5 full garbage bins of paper away that was taking up room in my filing cabinets. I worked out that by not receiving paper statements or bills anymore, I will be saving around 50 pieces of paper per month, plus the associated envelopes that all of these statements/bills come in. That is just for one household.

Imagine the amount of paper saved if 500 households elected to stop receiving paper bills, or a 1000 households, or 10,000 households? That starts to add up to a lot of paper, from a lot of trees. I don’t buy my music on compact discs anymore, I just buy them online and download them. Again, how much landfill do old compact discs that are thrown away take up? Or DVD’s for that matter?

02 February 2010

Lowepro Magnum 650AW bag review

I just received my new Lowepro Magnum 650 AW shoulder bag and I love it! I have been on a bit of a Lowepro bag spending spree these last few months as I upgrade all of my camera bags. The Magnum 650 AW replaces my Commercial AW shoulder bag as my main bag that I always keep my gear in.

I have been quite impressed overall with the design and quality of the new Lowepro bags coming out in the past 12 months and the Magnum 650AW is no exception. Below is a picture of all of my standard gear that I keep in this bag:


2 x Nikon D700 bodies with MB-D10 grips
Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8 lens
Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 lens with Hoya PRO1D UV filter
Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 lens with Hoya PRO1D UV filter
Nikkor 105mm F2.8 Macro lens with Hoya PRO1D UV filter
Nikkor TC 20-E II Teleconverter
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash
Nikon MC-36 Remote Control
5 x Nikon En-EL3e batteries
2 x Nikon MH-18a Battery Chargers
2 x Nikon battery adapters for MB-D10 grips
7 x SanDisk 8Gb Extreme (60MB/s) Compact Flash cards
SanDisk ImageMate card reader
Apple iphone 3Gs
HP Pavilion dv6 Laptop
Western Digital 320GB external hard drive

Believe it or not, I actually still have room for more stuff if I need to.



The Magnum 650AW comes with ample dividers to customise the bag to suite your own specific needs. In fact I even had a few extra dividers to spare once I was done configuring the bag. I do though have one issue with this bag. Lowepro advertises it as being able to fit a pro DLSR with 70-200 F2.8 lens attached. Now the only way this would fit is to fit it in horizontally. The trouble is if you do that, there is not enough room to fit a second camera with lens attached in the bag with the way the bag is designed. If you try and fit it in vertically, it sticks out too far to close the bag properly, and that is WITHOUT the laptop case that needs to fit in the main compartment as well. This was a BIG positive for me with the Commercial AW as I could fit my Nikon D700 with a 70-200 F2.8 lens attached and lay it horizontally and also have a Nikon D700 with another lens attached fitted vertically in the bag. I think that Lowepro could have made the bag a few centimetres taller and then you would have no problem fitting a DLSR pro body with a 70-200 F2.8 lens attached in the bag. I mean that bag is not meant to be Airline carry-on approved anyway, so why skimp on the height?


Overall though, I absolutely love this bag, as I do all of my Lowepro bags. I know have 5 Lowepro bags, all of which should last me a long time as the build quality is fantastic and they can really take a beating in all climates and terrains and most importantly keep your camera gear safe and secure.

13 December 2009

Lowepro Toploader Pro AW series bag review

The new Toploader Pro AW series bags come in 3 sizes, the 65AW, 70AW and 75AW. I have all three bags, and this review will cover them all.



Although I have both a Shoulder bag (Lowepro Commercial AW) and a backpack (Lowepro Pro Trekker 600AW), there are times when you don't need or want to carry around a big bag. This is when the Toploader Pro AW series bags come into their own. If I am shooting in a crowded area, I will often just use one camera and lens and keep it in a Toploader Pro AW. If I need a second camera and lens, I can always use two of these and put them on a waist belt, or at times, I will have one and my assistant will have another one and I can switch as needed. I also use the Toploader bags if I am doing a short hike to a location and I know I will only need the one camera. It can also fit on the waist belt of my Pro Trekker 600AW, which is quite handy when I am hiking a long distance to a location, but also want to have easy access to a camera.


Overall, I have been quite impressed with both the build quality and design of the new Toploader Pro AW series bags from Lowepro. The top pocket will easily fit my phone and wallet and also has two dedicated sleeves for memory cards as well. The front pocket will hold my remote controls and a lens cloth and both the 70AW and the 75AW will fit my Nikon SB-600 speedlight in the front pocket. There is also an outside pocket that holds my car keys. Of course being a Lowepro bag, you can attach an additional lens case, or other accessory using the Sliplock system. All three bags also come with the all weather cover to keep it dry in the event of wet weather or more often in my case, keep the bag dust free when out in dusty field conditions.


The biggest issue for me is ensuring that any camera bag I buy can actually fit the gear I need to put in it. The Toploader Pro 65AW will fit my Nikon D700, with grip and my Nikon 105mm Macro lens. This bag will not fit with any of my other lenses as they are too long to fit in this bag. The Toploader Pro 70AW will fit my Nikon D700, with grip and any of the following lenses that I own: Nikon 105mm Macro, Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 lens, or my Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 lens. The Toploader Pro 75AW will fit any of the above plus it is just large enough to fit my Nikon D700 and my 70-200mm 2.8 lens. I say just large enough because it is quite a tight fit with this combination, but it does fit. My only concern is that if Nikon decides to make the upgrade for the D700 a bit fatter from front to back, then I won't be able to fit the 70-200mm 2.8 lens in the 75AW, as there is NO room for any more length, it really does JUST fit in. I have found that Lowepro often makes there bag dimensions tight, which is good for keeping your gear secure but at the same time, leaves you with no room for new camera bodies that may have bigger dimensions. New pro camera bodies are coming out about every 12-18 months, but Lowepro normally updates their bags in a particular series only every 4-6 years. I think they need to leave a little bit more room in their dimensions in the bags to compensate for this.


I am a bit of a bag hog, so I bought all three, but if you were on a budget, I would go with the 75AW as it will fit any lens up to the 70-200mm 2.8 and it comes with a divider. Having the divider in there means that you can adjust the height so that if you were using a smaller length lens it would still fit securely and not hang loose in the bag. You could even fit another smaller lens underneath the divider and carry 2 lenses with you if you wanted to.

19 November 2009

Lowepro Pro Trekker 600 AW review

Ok, so after months and months of waiting (maybe it has been weeks and weeks, but it seems like months and months), my Lowepro Pro Trekker 600AW finally arrived this morning. Given that they just arrived in Australia on Monday and I had mine on order since before they even announced the release of the bag, I like to think that I am one of the first photographers in Australia to get one. First impression as the delivery guy was bringing the box in to my gallery was that this was going to be a BIG bag, and it is.

Starting from the top of the bag, there is a protective cover that also doubles as a waist pack. The laptop padded case that comes with the bag only holds a 15.4” laptop, but the compartment itself will hold up to a 17” laptop (which is what I have). It just means it won’t be in a padded case, as the outer lining of the backpack is not padded. There is room to fit up to 3 tripods (not that I ever carry more than one). There is a holder on the front, one on the right side, and one underneath the bag. The new design for holding the tripods looks good, although I will have to wait until I get the bag in the field to see if it holds the tripods correctly. The right side of the bag also has a storage area that includes a couple of deep pockets and a couple of memory card holders. The left side of the bag holds a hydration pack or can double as more storage.


The main compartment is deep enough to hold a Nikon D700 with grip attached, without the top of the camera sticking out over the top of the bag. The main compartment looks the same as the previous Trekker series bags, but with more room in them. The inside lid also has loads of pockets, all with protective covers so that you don’t scratch your gear with the zippers. There is also another 4 memory card holders. All of the memory card holders come with a really cool feature that lets you change the tab to show whether you are storing a blank or full memory card in it. Overall, my first impressions are that this bag is the best thing that Lowepro has ever made, well worth the wait. The only thing left to do is to configure the bag to fit all of my gear, although I am not expecting any problems, with ample room in the bag for everything. Once I configure the bag, I will post a video showing the bag with all my gear in it on my YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/KENGOLDSTEINPHOTO).


I had been using a Photo Trekker AWII for about 5 or 6 years and found it to be very handy when hiking long distances into the bush for photo shoots. I managed to always fit two bodies with lenses attached plus a few extra lenses, remote cords, film, memory cards, etc in no problems. Then, a few months ago, I upgraded my bodies from Nikon D300’s to Nikon D700’s. This is where I came into trouble with the Photo Trekker AWII, as the D700 body with a grip attached was too tall to fit in the bag. I then thought to myself, ‘what am I going to do now?’ I knew that I could buy a Pro Trekker AWII, but since I knew that the Trekker AWII models had been out since about 2003 or so, I didn’t want to invest in a $500+ bag that would be superseded by a new model in the coming months. I phoned around and spoke to a few people at Lowepro, who indicated that a replacement bag would be coming out in the next few months. And so the waiting game began. In the mean time, I would have to settle with lugging my gear around in a couple of my Toploader Pro AW bags. I have all three of those (the 65AW, the 70AW and the 75AW, great bags but that’s for another review). I also have a Commercial AW bag, but that is not suitable for hiking. Now as good as the Toploader Pro bags are, lugging two of them over your shoulder on a 16km hike through dense rainforest is not exactly good on your neck, plus it also meant I had to also carry an additional backpack for my water as well as carry my tripod in my hands (rather than attached to a bag, like on the Photo Trekker).

Ken Rockwell has said that “Pro” photographers don’t use camera backpacks and to just carry in what you need in a smaller bag. In fact, on his website (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/bags.htm), Ken says, “Never use a backpack; you can't shoot out of them and they carry too much. Backpacks are popular with newcomers and make a lot of money for bag makers, but experienced shooters don't use backpacks.

Photographers don't use backpacks because you can't get your gear out of them as you're shooting, and photographers don't carry that much gear at any one time. Photographers need to get to their stuff as they shoot, which means either stuffing lenses in pockets, a waist bag or a shoulder bag; never a backpack."


Well Ken, in fact I am a professional photographer, and yes I DO use a camera backpack on a regular basis. It is quite obvious that Ken does not do a lot of hiking with his camera gear. As I stated above, even just having one camera and one lens in a small shoulder bag is not too comfortable on a long hike to a photo location. If I am going to photograph a waterfall that is say an 8km hike away, I will want at least two camera bodies with me as well as two different lenses. Why? Well, let’s say that my main objective is to photograph the waterfalls, so I want a wide angle lens for that. I will also need to bring a telephoto lens as well so that if I come across any wildlife that I want to photograph, I don’t need to worry about getting to close and scaring them off (which is what would happen if all I had with me was a wide angle lens). Now, I could listen to Ken and just throw my 70-200 2.8 lens into my normal backpack with my bottles of water, etc. But I also like to carry a second body just in case I drop or damage a body. I also prefer not to change lenses in the field where possible, as it just increases the risk of dust, dirt or moisture getting into the camera. I will concede that Ken is right in saying that it is not easy to quickly grab a camera out of a backpack as you need to take the backpack off and then get a camera out, but what you can do is strap a Toploader pro onto the waist belt of the backpack and keep one camera in there, or just keep a camera out and in your hands. After all, with a camera backpack, your hands are free from carrying anything else.