Monthly Archives: August 2011

Availability of Canon PowerShot S95 Books

As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts over the past few months, it can be hard to understand how stocks books.  Recently, the availability of some of my Photographer’s Guide books has improved.  But, for some reason, Amazon in the past few days has stopped listing the book about the Canon PowerShot S95 book as “In Stock,” even though it should always be readily available from the print-on-demand company that prints it.  Lately, the book has been available only through third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace, including me, with the seller ID of alexstrawhite.  I had been advising potential buyers that you can purchase the book from me on Amazon and have it shipped very quickly, because I supplied some copies directly to Amazon for the Fulfillment by Amazon program.

Now that advice is no longer helpful, because all the copies I sent to Amazon have sold out.  I have ordered more from the printer, but those won’t be available for a week or more.  In the meantime, I have a few copies I will try to send to Amazon as soon as possible.  Other options are, who still have a few copies, and Barnes and Noble online at, who are still listing the book as available for shipping within 24 hours.

Of course, the book is also available for download in PDF format, as well as for Kindle and iPad; please see the book’s information page on this site for further details.

Latest News about Availability of Books on

The situation with the availability of the most recent of the Photographer’s Guide series of books continues to change on almost a daily basis.  For the past few months, some of the books were listed as shipping within 2-3 weeks rather than immediately or within a few days, as should be the case.  Now, within the past few days, there has been another change, with different results for different books.

Two of the most recent books, those about the Panasonic Lumix LX5 and the Leica D-Lux 5, are now shown on Amazon as shipping immediately, with copies in stock for overnight delivery.  The third book, though, on the Canon PowerShot S95, is now shown as available only through third-party sellers, including me (with the seller name alexstrawhite).  Luckily, I have sent some copies to Amazon for their Fulfillment by Amazon program, so those copies are available for overnight shipment also.  You just have to click on the link under the book’s listing, where it says 13 New from $24.95. If you click on that link, you will get to the listings from the third-party sellers.  So, if you want to purchase the paperback version of the PowerShot S95 book, it is available from several sellers, and you can get it shipped to you very quickly if you need it soon.

Of course, you can still download any of these books in PDF versions, and all three of the books mentioned here are also available for Kindle and iPad.

Nikon Coolpix P500 Paperback Proof Copy Has Been Approved

Today I received from the printing company the proof copy of the paperback version of Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P500.  The copy looked excellent, and, after checking through the pages of the book, I went online and approved the book for production.  Now it will take a few days, or possibly a week, for this title to start showing up for sale on and the sites of other booksellers.  The price will be $24.95.  I also ordered a few copies of the book to be sent to me, and I will probably make those available as a third-party seller through Amazon Marketplace under my seller ID of alexstrawhite.  I should receive those copies within five or six days.

Of course, the book is still available for immediate download in its PDF version, which is identical to the paper version in content, and has the advantage of an interactive Table of Contents and Index.  For more details about how to order that version, which sells for $9.95, please see the information page for the Coolpix P500 book.


Here is a photo of the proof copy of the book, taken by the Nikon Coolpix P500 in Program mode at 1/160 second at f/3.7 and at ISO 160:




HDR with the Nikon Coolpix P500

I included a series of HDR (High Dynamic Range) examples taken by the Coolpix P500 in Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P500.  Today I had the opportunity to take a few new photos in a setting with very sharp contrast between sunny and shaded areas. I thought the results would be useful for illustrating HDR effects and similar shots.  I’m posting these images here as a supplement to the book to give more illustrations of the capabilities of the P500 with HDR and related options for dealing with very contrasty scenes.

There is only one shot below that was taken using theP500’s in-camera HDR option; the others were taken using the Backlighting shooting mode, one with flash and one with D-Lighting; several others were taken in the Program shooting mode using the Active D-Lighting menu option. Finally, there is a composite shot that was created in Photoshop CS5 using the Merge to HDR Pro option, based on 5 or 6 shots taken with the Coolpix P500 in Manual exposure mode at a wide range of different exposure settings.

For all of these shots, I had the P500 attached to a very sturdy tripod so the images would all include the same scene.

First, here is the shot in Program mode with no special options used, to give you an idea of how difficult this lighting situation was:

The next shot, below, was taken in the P500’s  Backlighting shooting mode with the HDR option turned off, in which case the camera fires the flash:

This next one was taken in Backlighting shooting mode with the HDR option turned on. As is standard in that situation, the first shot produced (below) was taken with no flash, but with D-Lighting processing, which attempts to even out the shadows and highlights with in-camera processing:

The image below, the second result of the shots taken with the HDR setting turned on, is the only one of this series that represents the P500’s attempt to do an in-camera version of HDR.  The camera took several images and combined them together in the camera to produce this HDR result:

The next three images were taken in Program shooting mode, using the menu option for Active D-Lighting.  First, with Active D-Lighting set to Low:

For this next one, below, Active D-Lighting was set to Normal:

And the image below was taken with Active D-Lighting set to High:

Finally, the image below is a composite that I put together in Photoshop CS5 using the Merge to HDR Pro feature, starting with several photos of the same scene taken with the Coolpix P500 in Manual exposure mode at f/8.0, varying the exposure from overly dark to overly bright by changing the shutter speeds.  I then tweaked the result in Photoshop until I found a look I thought was appealing.

You may not be able to appreciate the full effects of this experiment through these images on the web, but I think you can get a general idea of how the Coolpix P500 handles this type of scene, where one area is in dark shadow and another is in bright sunlight. In my opinion, the camera does a pretty good job of dealing with this very difficult lighting situation with its in-camera HDR processing. The Active D-Lighting setting does a decent job also. And, because Active D-Lighting is available in Program mode, you can choose more of the camera’s individual settings when you use that option as opposed to the HDR option, which requires the use of the Backlighting shooting mode with its limited options for other settings.

Certainly, in my opinion, your best bet for dealing with a lighting challenge of this sort is to take multiple shots with different exposures, possibly using exposure bracketing, and then merging those shots in Photoshop or some other program that can produce composite HDR images. But the Coolpix P500’s built-in HDR feature is a very nice one to have available.

Panorama with Nikon Coolpix P500

I have one panorama example in Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P500, but I had to place it sideways on a page of the book (for now, only in PDF format) so it would be at a reasonably good size; if it were placed in normal orientation, it would be an awfully small image.

So, I’m posting here another copy of that panorama taken with the Coolpix P500, so you can see it without having to turn your head sideways, and at a decent size. This was taken with the Easy Panorama setting, in which you pan the camera for about 15 seconds and it automatically stitches the scene together in the camera. I found that function to work very well. (You also have the option of taking individual shots using the Panorama Assist mode, and then stitching them together with Nikon’s panorama software.)

Update on Status of Nikon Coolpix P500 Book

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the files for Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P500 went to the printer last Tuesday, and today I checked their status.  Both files — the interior and cover PDFs — have been approved as of earlier today.  Within the next few days, Lightning Source, the printer, will produce a proof copy and ship it to me overnight.  If it looks okay, I’ll approve it, and then the book will be made available to and several other online booksellers.  With any luck, that should happen by late next week.

If you want the PDF version, it is available now through this site. The versions for Kindle and iBooks will be ready by the end of September.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 is Getting Firmware Upgrade to 2.0

Today Panasonic announced that it is upgrading the firmware (internal operating system) of the Lumix DMC-LX5 camera to version 2.0, which will provide several enhancements, and even one new shooting mode, a “miniature” effect, which has become popular in compact cameras recently.  You can read the full story at  As pointed out in that article, the upgrade will be available for download on September 13 from

This upgrade sounds similar to the upgrade that Panasonic provided for the Lumix LX3 a couple of years ago, which added significant enhancements to that camera.  If history repeats itself, this new firmware version should also become available for the Leica D-Lux 5, the Leica version of the Lumix LX5.

I plan to download the upgrade as soon as it becomes available, and I hope to post an update here on this site with some impressions of it and with some tips on how to use the new features.  That will probably take at least a few days, or maybe a week or so, to get done, so check back in mid to late September to see if there is an update about the firmware upgrade.

Update on Status of Books about Lumix LX5, Leica D-Lux 5, PowerShot S95, and Coolpix P500

Now that the Nikon Coolpix P500 book has been released in PDF format, I have a little more time to take care of other things, like posting this update about the status of the more recent camera guide books.

The situation with Amazon has improved somewhat; the Panasonic Lumix LX5 book is now listed as In Stock for immediate shipping, and the Leica D-Lux 5 book is, also.  For some reason, the Canon PowerShot S95 book is still listed as shipping within 2-3 weeks from Amazon.  However, if you go to the listing for “14 New” under the main listing, you will find the book available from other sellers, including, who get their books directly from me and who ship quickly and reliably.  Also, I am selling the PowerShot S95 book as a third-party seller on Amazon, with the seller name “alexstrawhite.”  I am using the “Fulfillment by Amazon” system, which means I have sent a load of books to Amazon, so the books can be shipped from Amazon’s warehouse with fast shipping.

The Nikon Coolpix P500 book has been sent to the print-on-demand company, Lightning Source; I hope that the files will be approved soon and that the books will start being printed there within about a week.  It will then take a few more days for the book to show up for sale at Amazon.  It will be interesting to see what sort of shipping schedule that book has when it starts appearing on Amazon.

That’s the basic update for now.  Soon I will start on the next book, though I haven’t decided which camera to write about yet.

Front-Curtain and Rear-Curtain Flash with the Nikon Coolpix P500

Yesterday I published Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon Coolpix P500 in PDF form.  Today I submitted the files for the paperback book to the printing company, so the printed version should be available for sale within a couple of weeks. So, now I have time to post some more photographs.  I can’t fit into the book all the photos I would like to, so some of them will be posted here on the web site and blog.

First up are a couple of new examples of the effects of the front-curtain and rear-curtain flash settings with the Coolpix P500.  In the book, I used shots of a remote-controlled model car with headlights. The only problem with those examples is that they don’tshow a situation in which you would really want to use rear-curtain flash.  So, now I have taken some shots of a model train with a lighted caboose.  In both images, the train is moving from right to left.  In both shots, the camera was set for Shutter Priority exposure with a shutter speed of 1/2 second, with the flash popped up.  In the first image immediately below, I set the flash mode to Fill Flash, which uses Front-Curtain flash firing. (It’s not called that by Nikon; it’s really just the absence of the Rear-Curtain setting.)

As you can see, with Front-Curtain flash, above, the flash fired quickly, catching the caboose and the car in front of it; then the lights at the top of the caboose travelled further to the left, and traced a light trail in front of the caboose.  In the second image, below, with Rear-Curtain flash, the caboose’s lights travelled to the left for a while before the flash fired, so the caboose appears even with and slightly ahead of the lights.  This look is more natural, because you would expect the lights to trail behind the caboose.  In my opinion at least, this second image shows a situation in which using Rear-Curtain flash produces the best result.