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 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.

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As Adobe increases its monthly tribute for running Photoshop and Lightroom, some photographers are looking for an alternative. However, this isn't the main reason you should investigate Capture One. Much more important to consider is image quality and if you prefer the way Capture One works – many photographers do. And just as Lightroom can replace much of what Photoshop does, Capture One can replace Lightroom and so it can be the raw processing and image editing application of choice.

Late last year, Phase One released Capture One 11 with some incremental, but very important improvements.

For photographers reading this magazine, one of the most important aspects of post-production is the abililty to selectively edit the image. In Photoshop we use layers and masks, in Lightroom we use the adjustment brush – and similarly Capture One has its local adjustments. It is within local adjustments that many of the improvements lie, especially a much faster and more robust processing engine, which means the masking process is much quicker and your consequent edits flow better.

For photographers already using Capture One, why should you upgrade? More tools have been added to the local adjustments tool, now simply called the 'Layers' panel. These include the levels and colour balance, and you can also add a layer with a filled mask much more easily than before. You can also add presets to layers, one preset per layer, but of course you can have multiple layers. And for each layer, its opacity can be adjusted from a slider control sitting up the top of the layers panel. It's a great improvement for photographers looking for an alternative to Photoshop, but like Lightroom, it still doesn't replace Photoshop as tools like luminosity and channel masks are unavailable!

Other pro-level features include being able to annotate notes over the top of photos (for sending files off to your retoucher), exporting Capture One files with crops, overlays and watermarks preserved as separate layers in PSD files, and Lab mode readouts in addition to RGB. Catalog restoration functions have been beefed up and when importing files from partially full memory cards, a duplicate checking feature will save you time.

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