*Topaz Detail 3, my first run

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Hi all and welcome to a quick review on your Topaz special plugin of the month!  This month Topaz is running a special on Detail 3 for 50% off!  Normally $39.99, if you use the code “aprdetail” HERE on Topazlabs website, the price drops down to $19.99!!!

That’s all well and good, but what does Detail do?  I had not tried it until I was made aware of the sale, so here is my experience and thoughts on what I think it is best at doing.

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*Topaz – Simplify 4, quick and easy digital painting filters with a click!

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Topaz continues to improve they’re line of valuable plugins with the new release of Simplify 4.  Currently on sale through the end of this month for $19.99 (50% off!) when using the code “febsimplify” during checkout, Simplify 4 provides a quick, easy and very controllable plugin for a variety of painting and line drawing effects.  You can see it on Topazlabs.com HERE, or come on in to see a screen shot and read my ramblings on why I think this is a pretty amazing plugin for $20.

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*Topaz Star Effects, on sale just in time for the holidays

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With the recent kitchen sink sale that Topaz had, it got me curious about some of the other plugins on offer.  I love DeNoise, Clarity and ReMask, but what about all these other cool, quirky plugins?  Topaz Star Effects allows a user controlled enhancement for any point of light in your image, and through the month of December, it is on sale at 50% off for $14.99 here at Topazlabs.com when using the code “decstar” at checkout.  Well, if you have an extra few bucks lying around, and would like to enhance any points of light in your images, check this out…

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*Another set of this guy’s opinions, or Mirrorless Lens buying guide!

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As requested from the camera body shopping guide post (thanks Tim and Chris), here are my opinions on the best lenses for the various mirrorless systems.  Keep in mind that I have not shot extensively with all of these lenses, or at least, many of the lenses for systems that aren’t the micro 4/3 system aside from the tire kicking in stores or when getting the chance to shoot friend’s gear, so my opinion is based on minimal use combined with personal intrigue and web based research.  Because I don’t own an X series or Alpha E (NEX, etc) camera body, I have not been able to access many of the lenses on offer for any period of time, but there are a few I have, as well as those that I would certainly look long and hard at if I was invested in these systems.  As for the micro 4/3 lenses, I have those down pretty well.  C’mon in and I’ll lay out my faves…

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*One man’s opinion, or Holiday Shopping guide 2013!

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The season for the commercialization of spirituality (or, SFTCOS) is upon us and following suit, we have been absolutely bombarded with new offerings in the digital photography department.  Taking the holidays out of it, and looking at it purely from a gear point of view, it is truly an exciting time to be shopping around for the best bang for your (or a loved one’s) buck.

Over the last 4 years that I’ve written this blog, I’ve been asked quite a few questions about which cameras, lenses, systems, et al, are the best.  While I’ve chosen the gear I’ve chosen for my own personal reasons, there are so many others out there that offer their own set of pros and cons, and to put it plainly, there is no universal truth, nor answer to that question.

Come on in and I’ll give my take on which of the newly announced cameras over the last year or so are the most intriguing, interesting, best value or just plain confusing…

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*Topaz ReStyle, killer quick cross processing effects. Brand new and on Sale!

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Topaz continues to kick out awesome plugins, and their newest release ReStyle keeps with the recent pattern. Like most Topaz Plugins, us early adopters get a substantial discount which they offer as soon as the software is released. Read on for my take and a few examples, or if you’re already sold, go here to TopazLabs.com and use the code “restyleit” to get 50% off ($59.99 reg, or $29.99 now through August 31st).

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*All Alien Skin Plugins are 50% off until the end of the month!

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If you’ve been waiting for an Alien Skin software sale, now may very well be the time.  I’ve not ever seen them offer any more than 50% (I don’t even remember seeing a half off sale in the past!) so it is as good as I’ve seen it!

I like the AS plugins a lot, and have been absolutely loving the new Exposure 5.  You can read my take on some of their plugins via the links below, and you can buy any of these directly from AlienSkin.com (click here). I get no kickbacks from Alien Skin, and have no monetary incentive to sell their plugins, I just really enjoy using them and for those who may also be interested, it won’t get much cheaper than this.  Go get you some.

Exposure 5, the best gets better

Bokeh 2, blur it out

Snap Art 3, release your inner artist

*My, how the mighty (prices) have fallen. The GX1, best bang for the buck?

GX1 on sale!

I’m sure there are new cameras on the horizon.  With every camera manufacturer pumping a few new bells and whistles into newer body styles and wrapping it around warmed over sensor tech, those among us who play the patient opportunists really benefit.  I held off on the GX1 when it was released and opted for the G3 when upgrading from my GF1.  I gained the beautiful EVF, and at the time saved about $500 (when looking at the GX1 + add on EVF).  I’ve since been running a two camera setup (much as I do with my full frame work setup) as it allows me to always have a backup as well as be able to eliminate much in the way of lens changes.  Because I use the Olympus OM-D E-M5 as well, and I’ve recently traded my G3 to my brother in law for favors yet to be determined, I felt I could justify a compact body, sans EVF again.  Enter the GX1 which is now down to only $250 just about everywhere!  (it’s available at B&H – CLICK HERE – with 2% reward and free shipping).  C’mon in to see a couple shots of and with the GX1…

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*Topaz Labs and 500px team up and offer discounts

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Any of you who have read my blog somewhat regularly know that I love and use Topaz plugins.  Topaz Labs offerings are realistically priced, and offer unique, quality plugins.  They now have a program set up through the end of March which offers 25% off any Topaz plugin or bundle and a 3 month gift code for 500px as well as a 10% discount for current Topaz users for upgrades to a 500px “Awesome” subscription (normally $50/year) which allows users to host and sell their images through their own, modified online portfolio and store hosted by 500px.  You can see all the Topaz plugins on offer by heading over the the Topazlabs.com website (click here) USE COUPON CODE “500px” at checkout to get the 25% discount and 3 month 500px gift account.  For existing Topaz users looking to upgrade their free 500px account to an Awesome account, use code 10AWTL at 500px.com upgrade page HERE.  For those not familiar with 500px, it is a very high quality photo community that enables members to share, and sell images through their own, user modified galleries and portfolio pages.  I’ve used the upgrade discount myself from my free account, and have spent a little time now getting to know the ins and outs and it looks promising :)

Here are a couple past articles outlining and reviewing my favorite Topaz Plugins:

Topaz DeNoise

Topaz B&W Effects

Topaz Clean

Using Topaz Clean3 as a Fractalius like plugin for Mac users

Happy shooting,

Tyson

*Share the love, Alien Skin plugins 30% off!

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For the next week, Alien Skin is offering 30% off of all their wonderful plugins.  I use and love Exposure 4, Snap Art and Bokeh 2 personally and feel that Alien Skin does a wonderful job at providing a really solid product for the money.  You can download free trials of any of their plugins before buying if interested by going here Alienskin.com!  While you’re there, download their free iPhone app Alt Photo, it’s radical.

 

You can read more about my personal take on some of their plugins below:

Alien Skin Exposure 4, it just keeps getting better!

Alien Skin Bokeh 2!

Alien Skin Snap Art, release your inner artist!

 

They’ve also just released Eye Candy 7, which is a plugin that is gaining fanfare for graphic designers.  Unfortunately, I’m not a good person to ask about it, but it does seem to be getting a lot of praise, so it may be worth a trial for those interested in that type of stuff.

 

Happy Valentines Day to all, and I hope all is well for everyone.

 

Cheers,

Tyson