Take control of your digital darkroom with Scarab Darkroom

Scarab DarkroomI love digital photography. Unfortunately, I was bitten by the camera bug quite a while back, and I am constantly on the lookout for a new lens, new picture tweaking or developing software and new information to help my pictures become more professional looking. Tools like Scarab Darkroom really fit the bill, too. This Windows based app is something that most every owner of a supported camera should have.

Scarab Darkroom is a digital camera file converter with support for over 100 different camera models. Many digital cameras can take pictures and save them directly as a JPG or other compressed file format, but doing so really limits your ability with what you can do to the file, post production. Many cameras have their own native formats, often called RAW. Most image editing apps don’t support them out of the box. Scarab Darkroom does.

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The compression algorithm in JPG’s is popular as a storage format – files are usually small and easily transported from one computing system to another. JPG’s are also very popular with web sites like Facebook , Flickr, and Shutterbug. However, when you try to tweak a JPG, you lose a lot of information and detail.

Scarab Darkroom provides support and tools for editing RAW files directly. It allows you to edit fill light, brightness, contrast and black levels and provides a way to edit simple tone curve adjustments. You can also tweak color temperatures and gives you the ability to pick white balance from a gray area in the picture, among other editing options. When you’re done, it provides a lightning fast conversion with excellent detail rendition using a proprietary demosaic algorithm. Basic editing options – crop, resize, etc. are also supported.

Scarab Darkroom is a decent application. Its support for many RAW file formats from Nikon, Sony, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic and others is something that can provide value to a great many enthusiasts. The anticipated Pro version is said to have all of the freemium features as well as others including more color controls, a grayscale mixer and noise reduction, among others. A Mac version is also anticipated next year.

Download Scarab Darkroom

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Find the fonts you’re looking for with WhatFontIs.com

whatfontis-iconDesktop publishing isn’t easy, even with today’s advanced tools. Finding the right look and feel for your publications as well as your web pages and other projects isn’t always easy, and quite frankly, matching unknown fonts can be really difficult. Thankfully, WhatFontIs.com provides you with some interesting alternatives when you don’t have the typeface you need. WhatFontIs.com is a web app that works in just about any web browser on any PC, any platform.

I’ve heard many people say that desktop publishing is more art than skill, and I believe them. When it comes to laying out pamphlets, fliers, programs and other kinds of collateral, if you don’t understand design life can get challenging quickly. Completing projects can also get difficult when you don’t have the right typeface or font to help you get the job done. Thankfully, WhatFontIs.com can solve that problem quickly and easily.

All you have to do is follow a simple process:
1. Take a screenshot of the font you wish to identify
2. Open your browser and surf to www.WhatFontIs.com
3. Register on the site
4. Upload the screenshot you took in step 1
5. Allow WhatFontIs.com to suggest a matching font

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If you can’t take a screen shot, WhatFontIs.com can also use a URL with the image you want to use, but that can take a while, especially if you don’t have a fast broadband connection

I like WhatFontIs.com. It’s a great resource as it suggests both free and for purchase fonts, or just one or the other, if you wish. I had some problems with the screenshots I uploaded, however.

I found that the simpler the shot, the better chance you have of the site finding a matching font. The best shots were one line of text. Multi-line screen shots just confused the site, especially if you were using exotic fonts. Best to use the KISS principle here.

I also found that the site’s didn’t recognize or match up all the letters in the screen shot, even after it required you to type them in next to the broken down screen shot. That confused me a bit.

Open WhatFontIs.com

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Cinema 4D Studio – the perfect application for professional 3D artists

cinema_4d_iconCreativity is an awesome outlet. Some of my most relaxing times are when I am busy creating something, be that writing, drawing, sculpting or painting. As computers are one of my most favorite things, being able to combine my creativity with my love of technology is pretty cool. Its for this reason that I really like Cinema 4D Studio. It’s a graphics tool for your Windows PC.

Cinema 4D Studio is a great tool for professional, 3D artists. If you want to create advanced 3D graphics but need a helping hand, then this may be a great choice for you. Cinema 4D Studio adds advanced character tools, hair, a physics engine and an unlimited client network for rendering. The results can be stunning. Cinema 4D Studio can tackle just about any project you throw at.

Cinema 4D Studio’s character tools make it easy to create character rigs and advanced character animations. Adding hair or fur to characters is fast and simple. You can easily grow, comb, style and animate hair and fur easily. The physics engine makes it simple to perform complex collisions and interaction between any number of objects.

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One of the app’s best features is Network rendering. As any graphic artist knows, rendering can take quite a long time, even on the more advanced and more powerful computers available today. Network rendering allows you to take advantage of all computers on your network and can help render your animations faster.

While Cinema 4D Studio is designed for advanced 3D, the extra tools found in it are still user-friendly and intuitive. Generating advanced 3D affects such as hair is pretty easy and fast. The app does much of the work for you. For example, hair will automatically swoosh and sway as you move your character around; and making thousands of objects collide with each other only takes a few mouse clicks to set up.

While the app may be great, its completely out the consumer price range at nearly $4000 USD, as of this writing. Unless you’re a serious graphic artist, or unless this app is something that your company can purchase for you, this isn’t something a regular user will purchase.

Download Cinema 4D Studio

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AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac

Recover data from removable media with this must have Mac utility.

mac-images-recoveryKeeping your data safe is a complicated task. You can back up all you want, but if something gets erased, that change may perpetuate to all of your backups and THEN what do you do. Data recovery apps are an important tool to have after a backup program. I’ve looked at a number of different apps, and if you have a Mac, then you will want to take a long hard look at AppleXsoft Photo Recovery. It’s an important data recovery tool for Mac.

AppleXsoft Photo Recovery is an all-in-one digital media data recovery app for Mac users. The software features innovative recovery algorithms that are designed to recover images, documents, video, audio, music or just about any other file that can be written to a digital media device. Its compatible with Memory Sticks, SD Cards, CompactFlash I & II, MMC, SmartMedia, xD Cards, Micro Drives, and PCMCIA cards, etc.

Running AppleXsoft Photo Recovery is simple as inserting your digital media into its reader and running Photo Recovery for Mac. You’ll be able to save your pictures or other data off to another location. Regardless of how the media was destroyed, whether files were deleted, corrupted or the media formatted, Photo Recovery for Mac should be able to recover the data.

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Recovering deleted or missing data is important. When photos get inadvertently deleted, getting them back can be a nerve wracking and harrowing experience. Having an easy to use, simple application like AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac can be a huge plus. The only thing that you have to understand about data recovery is that most data is recoverable unless the space where the file lived is now being used by another file. When that happens the likely hood of your being able to successfully recover your data dramatically decreases, regardless of the app you use to recover the data.

download AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac

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Corel VideoStudio Pro X5 – all-in-one video editor and screen recorder

Corel VideoStudio ProEveryone is taking video today. Nearly everyone that I know has a smartphone or has access to a smartphone. As such, they’ve got digital photos and, more importantly, video clips flying all over the place. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like applications like Corel Video Studio Pro. It’s a video editing application for Windows.

Corel VideoStudio Pro is a powerful video-editing application, and has screen recording, built in. Its an all-in-one, video editor that provides editing, advanced effects, interactive web video and total disc authoring into a single package. The app is fast and packed with intuitive tools, that let you create family movies and slideshows, fun, stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. You can tap into the full power of your multi-core processor and share your creations everywhere with native HTML5 video support, or enhanced DVD and Blu-ray authoring.

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Once you’ve got your creations completed, you can quickly share them online, or burn a professional quality DVD/ Blu-ray disk complete with menus, titles and transitions. Corel VideoStudio Pro has a huge template library. You can choose from a variety of Instant Projects, drop in your content and make a movie in minutes. You can drag your media and graphics onto the Timeline, add effects, transitions and more. You can reveal or hide tracks, zoom in and out, or customize the Timeline to your liking. VSP makes it very easy once you get a handle on the workflow.

Corel VideoStudio Pro is a really cool app. It makes creating video less complicated than other apps and is fun to use. Non-experienced users may have a little bit of trouble getting used to the workflow and some of the tools, but it’s not difficult once you get going. If you have a lot of video and want to pull it all together into a disc that can be passed or sent to relatives or simply want to keep a hard copy record that can be viewed from any set top player, this is a decent choice for the task.

Download Corel VideoStudio Pro

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Burn, edit, backup, rip, convert and play your media with Nero 12

Nero12Over the past few years, the biggest influx of consumer data has been in the area of multimedia. More than anything else, the increase in popularity of smartphones, tablets, digital cameras etc. have created a huge increase in the use and demand for multimedia – pictures, music, and video. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like Nero 12. Its one of the best optical media utilities available for Windows today.

With Nero 12, you can burn, edit, backup, rip, convert & play all of your multimedia. It’s one of the most-complete multimedia suites ever. You can use it to format your media for use with all of your computing devices.

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Nero 12 allows you to stream your movies, photo slideshows and music playlists throughout your home network. Nero uses the latest high-quality video formats to convert, edit and burn your data. The app supports streaming to your XBOX 360™, PS3™, Android tablet, PC, digital media adaptor, streaming-enabled TV, or other DLNA- or UPnP-supporting devices. Nero 12 supports virtually all the latest video formats, including AVC/264, MKV, MP4, 3GP, AVI.

The result of Nero’s support for burning and streaming is disaster-proof data; and Nero is Windows 8 compatible. It takes only seconds to schedule an automatic backup with Nero LIVEBackup in Nero BackItUp 12. Now, you can back up to hard drives larger than 2 TB. Nero also supports USB 3.0 storage devices. Should your destination be optical media, Nero supports burning to CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray.

Nero 12 is a great application; and one of my favorite multimedia burning suites. I’ve used it for years. While the app supports Windows 8, streaming, and nearly any multimedia format you’d be interested in, it is quite pricey, and there are other, suites that you may find more affordable. If cost isn’t a huge issue, then this is probably the best optical media app you can invest in.

Download Nero 12

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CyberLink Media Suite – All You Need to Enrich Your Digital Life

CMS10If you’re like me, then you have digital media coming out of your ears – photos, music, video – and more coming nearly every day. It’s not always easy to manage when items are coming at you from all directions. That’s one of the reasons why I like CyberLink Media Suite. It’s a media management tool for Windows.

CyberLink Media Suite is a 10-in-1 software suite featuring PowerDVD for movie playback, PowerDirector for video editing, PowerProducer for DVD authoring, Power2Go DVD burner and 7 other, additional CyberLink apps, including CyberLink WaveEditor for editing your digital audio. It’s an all-in-one DVD & Blu-ray Media suite that allows users to view and work with HD content, including Blu-ray.

One of the biggest things in HD TV as of late is 3D. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of 3D content out there to be had. With PowerDVD, you can use TrueTheater 3D to transform 2D Blu-ray videos into 3D movies in real time. PowerDVD also works wonders for SD DVD’s, too. TrueTheater HD up-converts your DVD’s and vides to near-HD quality. Your SD movie collection is now free of pixilation and other distracting artifacts.

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If you have an HD video camera, PowerDVD is the ultimate media player for viewing your HD videos right on your PC. You can watch AVCHD home videos captured on your camcorder or MKV and FLV files. PowerDVD also supports two new 3D formats – MVC Transport Stream 3D (M2TS) and MK3D – in addition to MVC 1080i 3D PowerDVD also supports quality of 5.1 channels Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD soundtracks for truly HD quality entertainment

When it comes to your digital photo collection, CyberLink Media Suite has you covered there too. You can use MediaShow to organize all of your photos and home videos. You can sort items by date, album or people. MediaShow automatically organizes your photos and videos into a calendar view by the date they were shot.

Once in MediaShow, you can use its FaceMe technology to identify and tag people in your collection. The app is surprisingly accurate. Once faces are tagged, MediaShow makes it easy to locate every photo that a person appears in.

Download CyberLink Media Suite

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Explore the Space with SolarMax

The Solar Max is a fantastic way to get informed on space and the extraordinary galaxy that surrounds us. This nifty and stylish piece of software displays almost real-time data taken directly from the NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory – all downloaded with speed to the Android device.

Each of these satellites follows the Sun’s activity continuously, while Solar Max provides users with high resolution images around the clock. The images come from a total of 19 solar image sensors across three spacecraft. The latest version of this extraordinary software comes with a load of brand new features, including an awesome new Pinch and Zoom system for users to get extra close to the sun, as well as the ability to actually download saved images of the sun, and watch the sun in all of its glory.

As said before, the images displayed are of high resolution, so download time will vary depending on the power of the particular service provider – but all image data is well worth the wait.

The Solar Max is an educational and stylish software to play with; a delight for anyone with a passion for technology, and an interest in the workings of our solar system.

download SolarMax

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