Gadgets & Gizmos

Looking for an inexpensive photo printer so you can test the water? Check out Epson's Expression Premium Photo range! Stylish and compact, these versatile all-in-one models combine printing, scanning and copy facilities, but importantly, it’s easy to produce glossy photos too!

The XP-6000 offers a new compact design, fast printing speeds of 15.8 ppm (black) and 11.3 ppm (colour), CD/DVD printing, automatic two-sided printing, wireless Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, a 2.4” LCD screen, a 100-sheet input first tray and 20-sheet input second tray and a 50-sheet output capacity.

However, the model you want to buy is the XP-8500. It offers all that the XP-6000 does with a 2.7” LCD screen and, critically, also offers a 6-colour printing solution for superior photographic quality. With speeds of 9.5 ppm (black) and 9 ppm (colour) and a yield of 500 (black) and 830 (colour) with XL sizes, the XP-8500 is a serious player in this market.

Epson claims that the Expression Premium XP-8500 will take all the fuss out of printing photos and can produce better-than-lab-quality photographs at home and on demand.

The Expression Premium Photo range uses Claria Premium inks, which are renowned for producing outstanding, glossy photos with sharp detail, deep blacks and rich, vibrant colours. The XP-6000’s five inks and XP-8500’s 6 inks can be individually replaced as and when a particular colour runs out, making it economical.

The Expression Premium Photo models’ connectivity provides even more freedom for users. There’s no need to be deskbound because Wi- Fi ensures it’s easy to print and scan from around the home and Wi-Fi Direct makes it possible to print without a wireless network.

The models are packed with user-friendly functions including a memory card slot to make it easy to print photos without a PC.

The Expression Premium Photo XP-6000 (RRP $179.00) and XP- 8500 (RRP $299.00) are available now from www.epson.com.au and all good Epson retailers across Australia.

If you're creating online content, such as instructional videos or inspirational audio visuals, and you're recording your sound directly into your computer, you may be interested in RØDE's AI-1 USB Audio Interface.

The problem when plugging a microphone into a computer and then recording your voice and the screen (using a program like Camtasia) is that unless the audio content sounds great, your production won't be particularly successful.

To begin, you need a good quality microphone. Unfortunately, USB microphones aren't always the best option (certainly the cheaper ones are problematic), while the better quality microphones generally have audio connectors which your computer does not.

You need a gadget that sits between the good quality microphone and the computer – and this is where the RØDE AI-1 USB Audio Interface comes into play.

RØDE Microphones designs and manufactures high-quality microphones and related accessories for studio, live and location use. Its products are designed and primarily manufactured in Sydney and exported to over 113 countries globally.

The AI-1 USB Audio Interface adds studio-quality input and output capabilities to your computer, making home recording easier than it has ever been.

With its high quality Neutrik combo jack input and discrete Class-A preamp, you’ll be able to connect either a microphone, guitar or a line level instrument, such as a synthesiser. Available as part of The Complete Studio Kit, the AI-1 comes with RØDE’s peerless NT1 large diaphragm condenser microphone, SMR shock mount with popshield, 20 foot XLR and USB C/A cables. Everything you need is included in the box!

The AI-1 allows zero-latency playback by enabling the direct monitoring feature and playback via headphones/speakers with the high quality discrete headphone amplifier. To ensure the AI-1 is truly versatile it features 48V Phantom Power and is class compliant – so there is no need to install any drivers. RRP for the AI-1 is $499.

For more information, visit www.rode.com/ai1

Macphun has been producing photo editing apps for quite a few years, but until recently only for the Mac. Now it is available for both Mac and Windows - and for some photographers it might be an affordable option to Photoshop or Lightroom.

It's also likely to be of interest to photographers who are new to editing because it takes a slightly different approach to postproduction. Photoshop and Lightroom provide you with all the tools, but they don't make suggestions as to what tools you might like to use. Luminar is a little different in that its interface is designed around the application of filters and what they might look like, using preliminary thumbnails to guide your deliberations.

Now, a filter in Luminar terms is really any form of image adjustment, from standard curve dialogs to brightening and warming filters. The terminology is more general than photographic, perhaps making it more accessible for non-photographers.

However, once you have applied one or a series of filters, you are then able to adjust them yourself using (generally) slider controls. It's easy to preview the result on your screen (and our standard recommendation for having a good quality monitor remains).

In somes ways, Luminar lets you edit your photos a little like the Nik Software plug-ins did for Photoshop and Lightroom, but you don't need Photoshop or Lightroom to run Luminar. Interestingly, you can use Nik and other Photoshop plug-ins with Luminar!

However, there are a lot of advanced features in Luminar as well. If you want to work selectively, Luminar provides the equivalent of layers and masks. Each filter can be applied globally or locally and there are a number of different ways you can brush in the filter effect.

Luminar will open raw files and the new 2018 version is claimed to be much faster than the earlier version, with new and improved algorithms for many of the filters.

And the price? As we go to press, the online price for a download is AUS $99 – and you can download a free trial first.

For more information visit www.macphun.com/luminar

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