Monthly Archives: July 2011

Latest on Book Shipping Times

There has been no change in the situation with Amazon’s shipping times for the Photographer’s Guide series of books on the Leica D-Lux 4 and D-Lux 5, Panasonic Lumix LX3 and LX5, and the Canon PowerShot S95. Amazon is currently listing them all as shipping within 2-3 weeks. I did a test about a month ago, and the book actually arrived within one week, but a customer recently ordered a Lumix LX5 book, and it did not even ship for about 2 weeks.

So, I am trying to keep a reasonable number of books physically in stock here, so I can ship them right out to anyone who needs one shipped quickly.  Currently, I have copies of the books on the Lumix LX5, the Leica D-Lux 5, and the Canon PowerShot S95, all for sale on Amazon under my seller name, alexstrawhite.  When you go to the Amazon listing for one of these books, click on the listing for “New” books, right underneath Amazon’s own listing. For example, here is a link to the “New” listings for the Canon PowerShot S95 book, and here is a link to the “New” listings for the Panasonic Lumix LX5 book. If you order a book directly from me through these listings, I will ship it out by the next business day, and it should arrive within 2-3 days after that. (Of course, that’s for books shipping within the United States.  I ship internationally also, but those shipments naturally take longer.)

You also can order from (,,, and other sellers. has had quick shipping and good reliability, at least as far as I have been able to tell.

Of course, all of the books are available in PDF format from this web site, and some of them are available for the Kindle; check the ordering page for each book for more information.

HDR with the Panasonic Lumix LX5

I’m doing one more set of photographs today, this time to illustrate the HDR (High Dynamic Range) capabilities of the Panasonic Lumix LX5 camera.  Again, as with the other two posts I’ve done recently, I’m not going to go into a detailed discussion; I just want to post a few photos I took today with the LX5. The first image below shows the scene taken in Program mode with normal settings, just so you can see the challenge that was facing the camera in terms of bright and shadowy areas.

The next image shows the same scene, but with the LX5 set to the shooting mode called “My Color,” and to the setting called High Dynamic within that mode, which is what the LX5 uses for an in-camera HDR setting. As you can see, the camera did a pretty fair job of evening out the bright and dark areas, so you can see the colorful spools of yarn a lot better than in the first image:

Finally, the bottom image is a composite created in Photoshop CS5. For this one, I took six images, all at f/5.0, at shutter speeds ranging from 1/160 second to 0.8 second; some of them were very underexposed, some fairly normal, and some very overexposed.  I used the Photoshop command “Merge to HDR Pro” and tweaked the results until I got a look that I liked.  With this Photoshop command, you can take the same images and end up with wildly different results, so the image below is just one possible way to show an HDR-like view of this subject:

Shutter Speed Examples with the Panasonic Lumix LX5

A few days ago I posted some photos illustrating the First-Curtain and Second-Curtain flash settings with the Lumix LX5, using a model car with headlights that I was using to do similar illustrations for another camera. This time, I’m going to post a few examples of the effects of different shutter speeds, when other factors are basically the same, again with the LX5. Here again, I’m using a new item I got for the other camera book — this time, a K’Nex model of a Ferris Wheel, with colored lights that flash in the interior part of the wheel.  All of these shots were taken with the LX5 secured solidly on a tripod, set to Shutter Priority mode.  The first shot was taken at 1/500 second:


This next shot was taken at 1/30 second:


Here is one taken at 1/5 second:


Finally, here is a shot taken with a shutter speed of 8 full seconds, the longest exposure possible in Shutter Priority mode.  For this one, as you can see, I turned out all lights in the room so the flashing lights in the interior of the wheel could make their circular trails while the wheel turned:

I don’t have any particular point to make with these photos; I just kind of like the Ferris Wheel, and wanted to illustrate the way the trails of light show up at a long shutter speed, along with a few examples of what the wheel looks like at faster shutter speeds.

First-Curtain and Second-Curtain Flash with the Panasonic Lumix LX5

I have been working on my newest book in the Photographer’s Guide series of guides to advanced compact cameras — in this case, the Nikon Coolpix P500.  In working on the photographs for that book, I decided to do a couple of illustrations of what first-curtain and second-curtain flash photos actually look like.  In the past, I have described the effects, but never illustrated them.  In order to make these photos, I got a small R/C (radio-controlled) model car with working headlights. The photos came out quite clearly, and they provided a pretty decent idea of what happens with these flash settings.

Since I now have this model car, I decided I would make use of it to illustrate the same concept for other camera models.  As it happens, the only other camera that I have written about and still have at present is the Panasonic Lumix LX5. So, tonight I took some pictures to illustrate the effects of these flash settings with the LX5.

For both pictures, I put the camera on a tripod in a dark room and set the LX5 to manual exposure with settings of f/2.0 at 0.6 second. (That’s 1/1.6 second as the camera calls it). The flash was set to be forced on. For the first image immediately below, I set the flash to 1st-curtain, meaning the flash would fire at the beginning of the relatively long exposure. As you can see, the result is that the car is clearly exposed at the left of the image, and then only the headlights were exposed during the rest of the exposure, because they were the only thing bright enough to be exposed in the dark room.


For the second image, everything was the same except that the flash was set to 2nd-curtain, meaning that the flash would not fire until the end of the exposure. As you can see, in this case, the headlights were exposed first, and then the car was exposed late in the exposure as the flash fired to illuminate it.


I can’t say that this is the best possible illustration of when you would want to use 2nd-curtain flash, but it is a pretty graphic example of how the feature works. I think it would be more useful with tail-lights, but this car only has working headlights, and I had to use what was available.

I will try to post some more photos for the LX5 in the future.

Options for Purchasing Paperback Books

The situation with has not been improving.  The Panasonic Lumix LX5, Leica D-Lux 5, and Canon PowerShot S95 books have not had their normal availability there in recent weeks. The D-Lux 5 book currently is listed as In Stock with 2 copies left, but, once those two copies are sold, I expect the book will again be listed as shipping in 2-3 weeks. From what I can tell by following online discussions, this may be a permanent change in policy by Amazon — evidently they don’t want to keep print-on-demand books like these in stock regularly; they will just order them when enough orders accumulate so they can ship all of the orders out within 2-3 weeks. Of course, as I have found through my own test, it is likely that a book will actually arrive within about one week.

But, if you prefer to get one of these books with a quicker shipping time, the options for now are to purchase through a third-party seller at Amazon (such as me, with the seller name of alexstrawhite), or purchase from a seller such as (, which ships these books within 24 hours (again, confirmed by my own test order about a week ago).

There also are other sellers who carry the books — you can go to and search for the book’s title to get a complete list. Some other options are,,,  and I just searched that site, and found 11 sellers for new copies of the PowerShot S95 book and 33 sellers for “used” copies. (I believe the “used” ones often are really new.)

I do want people to be able to get copies of my books when they want them, so, if you are having difficulty finding a seller who can get you the book quickly enough, send me a message at; I may be able to ship a book to you quickly from my own inventory if that would help. If that becomes a regular practice, I might start selling the books regularly from this site using PayPal.

Another Change in Availability of Books on Amazon

Well, here is the latest twist in the continuing tale of shipping times and availability of my camera books on I won’t go back over much of the history, which I have discussed over the past few weeks.  Basically, the three most current books — the ones on the Panasonic Lumix LX5, Leica D-Lux 5, and Canon PowerShot S95, have been listed on Amazon as shipping within 2-3 weeks, instead of within 24 hours.  This afternoon, though, the Leica D-Lux 5 book started showing up again as In Stock, and shipping overnight if you order within a certain number of minutes.  This should mean that Amazon has some actual copies of the book in its warehouse, ready to ship. The other 2 most current books are still shown as shipping in 2-3 weeks.

One of the theories floating around says that Amazon drops print-on-demand books like these to the 2-3 week shipping status when they start selling better, and brings them back to In Stock status when their sales fall off.  This evidently would be because of the economics of warehouse storage, drop shipping, and things of that nature.

Anyway, the sales of the D-Lux 5 book had been dropping off; now, with the book being back in stock for immediate shipping at Amazon, maybe sales will pick up a bit, and then we’ll see if the shipping status reverts back to 2-3 weeks.  For now, though, the book is readily available.

Of course, you also have the option of purchasing any of these books from or from third-party sellers on Amazon, as well as from other sellers, such as,, and others.

Results of Barnes & Noble Experiment

The results are in from my experiment in ordering a book from Barnes & Noble online (  As I noted in an earlier post, after I ordered a copy of Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S95 on July 7, I received order confirmation and shipping e-mails, stating the book should arrive by July 11. The book arrived today, nicely packed and in excellent condition.  July 7 was Thursday and today is Monday, so that’s basically 2 or 3 business days, depending on whether you count Saturday.   They did ship the book within 24 hours, as is noted in the book’s listing on the web site.

So, the bottom line is that, as long as Amazon continues listing the book with a 2-3 weeks shipping time, a better alternative may be to order the book from (Though, as I also noted earlier, Amazon actually got a book to me within one week, not 2 or 3.)

Here is a link to the ordering page for the Canon PowerShot S95 book at Barnes & Noble.


Of course, you can also order the Panasonic Lumix LX5 book or the Leica D-Lux 5 book from Barnes & Noble.



How to Get a Book Quickly

I know I’ve talked a good deal about shipping times over the past week or so, because of the problem of Amazon’s changing my books from being in stock for immediate shipping to listing them as shipping in 2-3 weeks.  But, I still need to discuss this issue again, because I have had some customers contact me in some confusion.  I have advised everyone that I am currently listing for sale the 3 most current books (on the Panasonic Lumix LX5, the Leica D-Lux 5, and the Canon PowerShot S95) as a third-party seller on Amazon Marketplace, with the seller ID alexstrawhite, and that I ship quickly, by the next business day.  These customers either bought the book or started to, and then noticed that Amazon was saying the book would not arrive for about 2 weeks.

It appears that Amazon sends out that sort of delivery-estimate message when people select Standard shipping, because that method usually is Media Mail, which can take 2 weeks or more to arrive.  (Though I believe Amazon also sent out that message to a customer who chose Expedited shipping, which really doesn’t make sense.)

Anyway, please don’t pay much attention to those canned announcements from Amazon when you order a book from me as an Amazon Marketplace seller.  I have maintained 100% positive feedback there, which is not easy to do. I always ship by the next business day, and sometimes the same day, if the order comes in at just the right time.  When I ship the book, you will receive a shipping confirmation message with the USPS tracking number.  The book should arrive within 2-3 business days after it is shipped. (Of course, all of this applies for shipping within the United States.  I ship books anywhere in the world, but naturally the shipping time will be considerably longer for international shipments.  Also, the books are available through, which could be a better choice for customers in Europe.)

One other point:  As I noted yesterday, I have ordered one of the Canon PowerShot S95 books from ( to test the shipping time.  I received a message today saying the book has shipped via UPS, and is scheduled to arrive on Monday, July 11, which is a good, quick arrival time for a book ordered on July 7. So, if you want to order any of these books for quick shipping from a major retailer, it looks as if is a good bet.  Amazon will ship fairly quickly and the book should arrive within 1 week, despite the posted shipping time of 2-3 weeks.

Latest Situation with Shipping of Books on

I’m still trying to figure out exactly why most of my Photographer’s Guide paperback books are currently listed on as shipping within 2-3 weeks, when they used to be kept in stock for immediate shipping.  They are print-on-demand books, and there has been some sort of temporary or permanent change in the way Amazon deals with such books, particularly those printed by Lightning Source, the printer that produces my books.

There has been a lively discussion online among print-on-demand publishers like me about what is causing the longer shipping times.  As far as I can tell, there is no definitive answer yet, just several theories.  So, I’m still hopeful that the situation will return to normal within the next month or two, with all of my books shipping quickly from Amazon.

In the meantime, today I received from the printer a new shipment of the three most recent books — those on the Panasonic Lumix LX5, the Leica D-Lux 5, and the Canon PowerShot S95.  I have these books listed on as a third-party seller for $23.95 each; my seller ID there is alexstrawhite.  As noted in my listings, I ship the books by the next business day, and they generally make it to their destinations (if within the U.S.) within 2-3 days after shipping. I also ship internationally, though those shipments of course take longer.

Another option is to purchase the books from (, which lists the books as shipping within 24 hours.  This morning I ordered one of my Canon PowerShot books from to test the actual shipping time. So far I have received a message saying the book is scheduled to ship tomorrow, July 8, which is a good sign.  I’ll post the results of the test here, hopefully by Monday July 11, if the book arrives by then.

Also, as I noted a few days ago, when I did a similar test by buying a Panasonic Lumix LX5 book from Amazon, it arrived in about six days, rather than the 2-3 weeks mentioned in the listing.

So, I hope no one is passing up one of these books because of Amazon’s long shipping times.  The shipping actually is quicker than advertised, and you can always get a book quickly through third-party sellers (including me), or from other online retailers, including,,, and others. In fact, you can do a search at to get a listing of the various online sites that sell these (and any other) books.

If anyone has questions about any of this, please let me know through a comment, or an e-mail message at

Latest News on Amazon Shipping Times

Today marked the last step in my test to see if my current guides to the Panasonic Lumix LX5, the Leica D-Lux 5, and the Canon PowerShot S95, really take 2-3 weeks to ship on, as that site has announced for the past week or two.  On June 25, I ordered one copy of the LX5 book from Amazon.  I was initially advised it would arrive July 14; ultimately, it arrived today, July 1, just under one week since I ordered it.  So, if anyone is hesitating to order one of these books because of Amazon’s statement about the 2-3 week shipping time, this one experiment, at least, shows that the actual shipping time should be considerably less.  Of course, I’m hopeful that whatever trouble is still causing problems for Amazon in shipping print-on-demand books such as these will soon be resolved. In the meantime, I have ordered more copies of these 3 books from the printer, and am making them available through Amazon Marketplace. I always try (and generally succeed) to ship a book the next business day after the order comes in. So, that is one way to get a shorter shipping time.  My Amazon Marketplace user name is alexstrawhite.