Best tech in 2023 for Creative Pros – PhotoshopCAFE picks


The best products of the year (2023)

(AKA Colin’s Gear Guide)

Click here to buyl the products in one place from B&H Photo.

(I will earn a commission from these links, so I appreciate your support of the CAFE.)

I reviewed a lot of stuff in 2023. What is the best? Check it out here.

2023 is almost gone, but what isn’t, is all the exciting tech and gear we need to make our creative stuff.

I wanted to share all my favorite products of the year. Kind of a Colin Smith’s creative tech roundup kind of thing. There are some that I included last year, that are in here again, Why? Because some are so good

Now, the criteria for this isn’t just a bunch of things I’ve seen other people use. This is tech so good, I actually own and use everyday (where applicable, I mean, I don’t use a gimbal or 360 camera every day. But when I do, these is the ones I prefer.). There were some products that didn’t make the grade, which I returned or they are gathering dust somewhere. When I replace a piece of gear, I usually research and test many options before adopting it. Full disclosure, some of these were given to me and others I purchased myself. If it’s not the best of class I’m not including it, even if it was given to me, so this isn’t a sponsored post, it’s my unbiased opinion. (I’ll add a little asterisk * by the products given to me, so that you know). Most of these I have reviewed throughout this year and I’ll link to those reviews.

This is purely my opinion and based on my hands-on experience. Yes, there will be “what about xyz products?” and these might not be included because I haven’t had hands on experience with them, so I won’t make blind recommendations. I think you get the idea, so please don’t fill up the comments with “what about” posts 🙂

Alright, let’s go!


Best Laptop

Apple 2023 16″ MacBook Pro M3 MAX 64Gb

The 16″ MacBook Pro is a great laptop. It features a large clear screen and lots of ports including a SD card reader. The Apple silicon chip generates very little heat and is super power efficient. Even the earlier M1 and M2 chips still hold up as far as speed goes. With Apple, there is always balance of power and budget and I recommend this configuration as maximizing power without going completely overboard with price. This is a higher end setup, but you will also be happy with a lower tier for less money. Also consider the M2 Mac Studio for a desktop machine.

Review. | Photoshop M1 speed test


Mirrorless Camera (Video)


I went ahead and purchased the Sony A1, the only reason I didn’t include it here, is the price, its not the range of everyone.

I would take a look at the A74 which I would have purchased if I didn’t have the A1.

But for video, the Sony A7sIII is a clear choice, and the camera many have been waiting a long time for. It’s a full frame, low light beast. Shoots H.264 and H.265 and capable of 10-bit video. It can shoot up to 120F/s at 4k and can even output uncompressed RAW through its HDMI. The in body stabilization is amazing, no limit on recording time and has dual slots that can take either SD or CFExpress cards (on both slots). Auto focus is super fast and accurate and it support various log modes. Very importantly for solo shooters, it has a proper articulating flip out screen, which has touch. This is everything we were hoping for and the footage is beautiful at 15 stops of dynamic range. I’m in love with the footage on this camera.

► Buy it here



Hyperdrive Thunderbolt 4 Dock

I have one of these on my desktop right now. When you have a computer with limited ports (looking at you Apple) you have the option to live that dongle life, or you can use a dock that has it all. The best part is the dock can stay attached to all your peripherals and connect to your MacBook pro or another Thunderbolt 4 equipped computer through a single TB4 cable.

The Thunderbolt 4 Dock is designed for enterprise businesses, PC gamers and video editors looking for an advanced connectivity solution that delivers maximum bandwidth and epic display resolutions. It features two Thunderbolt 4 Downstream ports capable of 40Gbps data transfers and 32G PCIe transfers, and one Thunderbolt 4 Upstream port that provides up to 96W Power Delivery charging for your host device.

Additionally, enjoy gaming and video editing like never before with dual 6K 60Hz display support through HDMI or Thunderbolt, an ultra-fast 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet connection, and high-resolution audio with the ability to choose between lifelike 8K 60Hz resolution or 4K 120Hz resolution to ensure faster rendering with less blur.

Get it here



Portable Hard Drive

Samsung 4TB T7 Shield Portable SSD

These tiny drives are ultra fast and small. I have found these drives very reliable and they don’t require separate power plugs. They are also great value for money.

Get it here


Card Reader

Sony MRW-G2 CFExpress (Type A) Card Reader

This card reader can read up to 10 Gb/s and comes with USB C and USB A cables. It works with CF Express (A)  and SD cards. It’s fast and a solid build.

Get it here

If you just need an inexpensive USB-C SD and Micro SD reader, look no further than

UNI USB-C SD / MicroSD Card Reader 





The newest DJI Ronin gimbal, now called RS3 is very similar to previous RS2. The main update is auto locking motors. The arms are carbon Fiber, the battery detaches to charge without having to be attached. It can be used in briefcase mode, it has locking axes (makes it easy to balance) carries a heavier payload and breaks down into a very small footprint. The inbuilt screen provides access to enough functionality, that you can use the gimbal without having to attach a smartphone for quick shoots.  If you get the pro bundle (I highly recommend you do) you get a mechanical focus to work on any lens and the amazing Raven Eye. Raven eye connects to the app wirelessly and provides remote control over the gimbal movement including a responsive mimic and automatic face tracking. This is now my favorite gimbal, hands down. This is how you get cinematic smooth footage while walking or moving the camera around a subject.

Buy it here

See my setup video for the full Pro bundle 


Best Mobile Phone Gimbal

Insta 360 Flow

The Insta360 Flow is a handheld, pocket-sized gimbal that is designed to stabilize your smartphone camera while you are on the go. The device features a three-axis gimbal that provides stability on the pan, tilt, and roll axis, ensuring that your footage remains smooth and steady, even if you are moving around. This makes it perfect for capturing footage while walking, running, or engaging in other activities where it may be difficult to hold your phone steady.

One of the standout features of the Insta360 Flow is its portability. The device is small enough to fit in your pocket, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. This means that you always have access to stable footage, even if you don’t have a bulky camera or tripod with you. It also features Deep track, an ai powered smart tracking, that follows the subject, even if they disappear behind obstacles for a few seconds.

See my review here

Tiny Camera

Check out the amazing Insta 360 GO3.

Action camera with a flip up screen that transforms into a tiny remote camera. It’s amazing all the things you can do with this, It has a magnetic mounting system and this camera can go where other camera can’t. Allowing for unique shots.

See review here

Best 360 Camera

Insta360 ONE X3*

The quality of this little 360 camera is amazing, and with the app you can recompose video in post to make it look like the camera is moving around. Miss nothing by capturing the entire scene at once. To boot, it has the best stabilization out of any camera I tested including the goPro.

See review

Buy it here


Best Smartphone

Google Pixel 8 pro*


As far as innovation, the Google Pixel 8 pro wins this year. The screen is gorgeous, the 3 cameras are best in class. All 3 shoot RAW with up to 50mp. Also features an updated Google Tensor chip. Comes with 7 years of updates and new features. This phone also features under-screen fingerprint sensor and a punch-hole camera (no notch).



Sure SM7B

This thing is industry standard for podcasts and desktop recording for a reason. The sound quality and rugged reliability is legendary. All my tutorials are recorded with this mic. I also use a Scarlett solo for the USB interface. Because this is a dynamic mic and not a condenser, it may need a little boost, so I use a Cloudlifter.


On camera mics

Rode Wireless GO II

The wireless go is an amazing mic. It’s a belt pack with the microphone built into the transmitter. It’s really fast and easy to set up and the built-in mic is very clear with great signal to noise ratio. You can also plug in a lav mic and use it like a traditional lav set. The range is also very good. Rode has made it even better with the GO II, which features 2 transmitters and a single receiver, so you can mic up 2 people for interviews. There are new features, such as the ability to record directly into a transmitter and save the recording internally. Recently Rode updated their app to offer even more features. It’s worth checking out the Wireless PRO, which I would consider, but I haven’t reviewed it. 


Review of the new accessories here



Photo Software

Adobe Photoshop 2024

Do I really need to explain why Photoshop is the best image editing software? It’s the industry standard for a reason. Review

Adobe Lightroom Classic 13 (2024)

Lightroom is the best tool for working with lots of photos. Use it to organize your photos, edit them and deliver in many ways. I have always been a fan of the quality edits I can make to my photos in Lightroom and it handles panoramas and HDR better than just about anything out there. It works with 3rd party plugins so you can extend its functionality. Review


Best Music for your Videos

Epidemic Sound, the right songs, the right license at the right price. need I say more? You can download the entire song, or stems.

Get it here

Graphics Tablet

Wacom Intuos Pro M*

Wacom is head and shoulders above all others when it comes to pressure sensitive input from a stylus. If you have ever used a Wacom tablet, you will realize these is a reason it’s what almost all the pros use. The feel is the closest you will get to pencil on paper, with no lag and lightweight pen that doesn’t need batteries. The latest Intuos Pro now supports 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, which allows even the lightest touch to register and not turn into a dotted line (as almost everything else does). It has built in Bluetooth or USB-C connectivity, so you can choose how to connect. I find the medium to be the “goldilocks” in sizes. It’s large enough to provide the precision and real-estate for drawing and not too large as to hog your desk space. For retouchers the Wacom tablet is a necessary tool, not an accessory. I sure couldn’t create the imagery I do without one and the latest release is worth the upgrade with the Pro pen2, metal back and high level of sensitivity. review

get it here

Color Management

X-Rite Color checker Passport photo 2*

For perfect color, you need a reliable source with known colors to calibrate your photos. Take a shot with the passport in frame,  create a color profile that works in Lightroom or ACR and all your photos are looking good with lifelike color

Buy here

X-Rite Color checker Passport video*

You need to calibrate your video too and this is the solution.

Buy here

X-Rite Color checker XL*

If you are serious about color management, you probably already have an X-Rite color checker. This card enables you to have known colors when you shoot. This enables you to dial in correct colors when you are editing the color of your photos or video. There was a problem with the color checker though. If you are flying a drone or using 360 Cameras, the chart was a little small to get a good reading sometimes. Enter the XL (For Extra Large). As an Xrite Coloratti, I was involved in testing the XL and providing real-world feedback. Not only was it amazing for drone work, but I love it in the studio. I use this to calibrate my cameras, Its nice and large, has true blacks, whites and gray tones as well as skin tone and primaries. The larger size enables me to double it up as a take-off pad for my drone, bonus! see it here

Best Monitor

BenQ 32″ SW321C Photographers IPS Monitor.*

This monitor is very pleasant to look at with extreme care given to color accuracy and color management. It supports 99% Adobe RGB. It comes with a puck to change color modes as needed. I can go between Adobe RGB, sRGB and Rec.709 in an instant. It comes with a hood to protect it from glare and color contamination. The stand allows for adjustment of height and angle, as well as rotation. This is the monitor sitting right in front of me most days.

Get it here

Best Pro Monitor on a Budget

BenQ PD2706UA

This monitor has a crisp clear 4K display. It also comes with some great features live KVM mode and an articulating arm. You can quickly adjust the height, angle and even flip between vertical and horizontal displays quickly.  Check out my full review in this little beauty. This is currently my 2nd monitor on my desktop for daily use.



The Best Drone

DJI Mavic 3 Classic

It’s going to take a lot to beat the Mavic 3. Why? This little drone is amazing. It’s the drone I’ve always wanted. It’s portable and easy to travel with and has great range and battery life. This in itself isn’t enough though. I really need the sharpest high resolution photos and video and the onboard Hasselblad camera brings this. The Classic provides the same quality as the 3 Pro with a single camera for a more affordable price.


Mavic 3 Classic Review

Get it here


Smaller Drone

DJI MINI 4 pro

I don’t have a mini 4 pro, but I love the mini 3 pro, see my review here

Wireless Charging

Apple Magsafe Duo wireless charging.

This 3 in one wireless charger I recommended last year broke. I replaced it with this Apple one which folds up into a small footprint and charges quickly and reliably. Be warned though, this charger doesn’t come with a charging brick, so you will have to shell out extra on tip of this already expensive piece of gear.

Get it here


Screen Calibrartion

Calibrate Display Plus*

This is the best device for calibrating your monitor for accurate color. The Display plus now supports a wider color gamut and can also calibrate HDR monitors.



Luxli Timpani 1×1 RGB LED Light Panel (2-Light Travel Kit)

I have recently been turned onto these lights. I shot my ebike review with them, if you want to quickly see the quality.

What I love about them, They are bright and consistent. You can adjust the color temp to match existing lights, or go into RGB mode and dial in almost any color you like. They are sturdy and well built. Many light panel have weak yokes, but not these. They come configured as a convenient kit that includes a sturdy travel bag that will protect them for years to come.



PS, I currently use a Gitzo tripod as well as Siri and Vanguard.

My favorite bags right now are Think Tank Airport and Hex Cinema Backpack.


Ok, that’s it for now. If there is a category that I have excluded, drop a comment and I’ll see what I can do to expand this gear guide.

Thanks for checking this out.

Great to see you here at the CAFE!


Here is a link to buy all the products in one place from B&H Photo.





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Introducing Mary Grace Varela:  360º Contributor of the Month – September – 360Cities Blog


Mary Grace Varela is a newcomer with a passion for 360º, a fresh face in the 360Cities community who has wasted no time in making her mark. Although we don’t yet know where she is from, her contributions during the month of September have been shot in the Philippines.

Mary Grace officially joined our community on September 18, 2023, and has already shared her perspective through 27 panoramas and 71 360º videos.

Her work takes us on a virtual journey to various breathtaking locations, showcasing the natural beauty and cultural richness of these places. From the Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur, to the Limunsudan Falls, Camiguin Island, Sohoton, Bucas Grande, and Najandig Peak in the Philippines, Mary Grace’s creations offer an immersive experience.

Dive into her panoramas and videos to explore destinations like Hagonoy Island Beach, Tinago Island in Tagana-an, Surigao del Norte, the Santos City Fish Port Complex, and the bustling public fish market in Iligan.

Visit Mary Grace Varela’s profile page and enjoy her 360º world now!


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What’s New in March 2021 Lightroom Classic and Cloud-Based Lightroom Releases


When to Update:

I don’t have any indication that things won’t go smoothly with these small updates. That said, if you’re not urgently in need of the latest bug fixes or features, it couldn’t hurt to wait a week or two to see if others experience issues, unless you need to update urgently to hopefully resolve bugs introduced in the last release(s). If you install the update and then encounter bugs that you can’t live with, you can use the Creative Cloud app to revert to the previous version.

Important Lightroom Classic bug now fixed: There has been an interface performance issue since 10.0 that was related to having a custom monitor profile. Users affected by this had to revert to 9.4. This has now been fixed!

If I hear of serious widespread issues with these releases I will post them here in this section – please check here rather than emailing me.

That said, I don’t plan to report all bugs here –click here to check for bug reports and to report bugs or issues that you encounter.


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20+ Best Photoshop Actions for Creative Text Effects


Typography is a powerful tool in design, branding, and marketing, but finding the perfect text effect can be a challenge. Fortunately, with the help of Photoshop actions, creating stunning text effects has never been easier.

In this collection, we’ve compiled some of the best Photoshop actions to enhance your typography game. Whether you’re looking to add vintage text effects, colorful 3D text, or photorealistic liquid text effects, you’ll find a range of creative options to choose from.

The beauty of these Photoshop actions is their ability to streamline your workflow and allow you to apply your favorite effects to multiple images with just a few clicks. Imagine being able to create consistent, professional-looking text effects across all of your designs without having to start from scratch every time.

With this collection, you’ll have access to a variety of creative text effects that can add vibrancy, depth, and uniqueness to your graphics. Whether designing logos, branding materials, or simply creating art, these Photoshop actions will help you take your typography to the next level.

You might also like our free collection of text effect layer styles. And if you’re looking for text effect tutorials, we have those for Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.

Top Text Effect Actions for Creatives

Memphis Style Photoshop Text Effects

Inspired by the 1980’s Memphis Group, these Photoshop text effects are perfect for making your message loud and clear. You’ll get eight bright and colorful styles that will give you stunning results in a few seconds!

Memphis Style Photoshop Text Effects

Vintage Photoshop Text Effects

Nothing is quite as charming as vintage. So the next time you’re working on a project that needs a vintage aesthetic, make sure you use these Photoshop text effects. From traditional vintage to retro styles, there’s plenty to pick from. Just replace the placeholders with your own text.

Vintage Photoshop Text Effects

3D Text Photoshop Action

Create gorgeous typography with these 3D Text Photoshop actions. This pack includes plenty of options: four extrusion directions, ten extrusion sizes, 30 shadow sizes, and 360-degree lights and shadows that will give you photorealistic results instantly.

3D Text Photoshop Action

Sloppy Press Photoshop Typography Styles

Turn on the printing press with these gorgeous letterpress Photoshop typography styles! You’ll get 33 typographic layer styles to give your standard typography a hand-printed effect. This collection includes actions, effects, styles, PNG textures, and brushes, so it’s the complete package for your next vintage-inspired project.

Sloppy Press Photoshop Typography Styles

Jelly Text Effect Photosop Action

These Photoshop actions give your typography a 3D jelly text effect in five optional colors. Use them with text and pixel layers, vector shapes, smart objects, and folder groups. They’re perfect for fun projects!

Jelly Text Effect Photosop Action

Vibrant 3D Text Effects

Perfect for covers, banners, titles, and other essential marketing materials, these dynamic 3D text effects are an excellent choice for giving your typography a little boost! You’ll get eight different styles to work with as Photoshop actions and ten different mockups to use for creating beautiful results.

Vibrant 3D Text Effects

Liquid Tasty Photoshop Action Text Effects

These liquid Photoshop action text effects will give your typography a delectable charm. They mimic the effects of jelly, jam, honey, juice, and water.

Liquid Tasty Photoshop Action Text Effects

New 80s Text Effects for Photoshop

Travel back to the 1980s with these vaporwave text effects for Photoshop. Bright and reflective, with creative waves, this retro-futuristic Photoshop text effect action pack offers ten unique compositions and ten PSD mockups you can work with to create incredible typography instantly.

New 80s Text Effects for Photoshop

80’s Retro Style Text Effects

Give your typography an incredible neon charm with these retro-style text effects. Rendered in the vaporwave, retro-futuristic style seen in the 1980s, these text effects will work perfectly well for titles, posters, covers, banners, apparel, and more! This pack contains ten different PSDs to give your standard typography more vibrancy.

80's Retro Style Text Effects

Grass Text Effect Photoshop Action

Beautiful and natural, this Photoshop action helps you transform your standard typography into grass. You’ll get photorealistic grass actions in four styles: green, autumn, red, and tropical, as well as brushes and patterns. It’s perfect for nature and eco-related projects.

Grass Text Effect Photoshop Action

Hologram Photoshop Text Effects

These Photoshop text effects will help you create astonishing graphics within the hologram style and will work like a charm for covers, banners, titles, and more! You’ll get eight different mockups and Photoshop styles to work with. This hologram effect stands out best on dark backgrounds.

Hologram Photoshop Text Effects

80s Retro Text Effects vol.2

Punchy and bright, these retro text effects are perfect for your old-school cool projects! From flyers and posters to opening sequences and logos, you can adapt them for various purposes.

80s Retro Text Effects vol.2

Glitch Effects for Photshop

Add a glitch to the matrix with these glitch text effects for Photoshop. You’ll get ten styles, from scan lines to eerie VHS glitches. They look amazing on posters and graphics with cyberpunk and retro-futuristic vibes. You can easily add your own text with smart objects.

Glitch Effects for Photshop

Double Light Photoshop Text Effects

You’ll get nine vibrant shadow combinations in different, complementary colors to give your projects a fun and engaging double exposure feel. You can also pick from three different sizes for every shadow to create the effect you’ve dreamed up.

Double Light Photoshop Text Effects

Epic Text Effects for Photoshop

Defeat every dragon on your path with these epic fantasy text effects for Photoshop. They work as smart objects, so you can easily add your own text for covers, banners, flyers, cinematic titles, and more.

Epic Text Effects for Photoshop

Mobile Game Photoshop Text Effects

Press play to start! These ten Photoshop text effects have been inspired by those cartoon styles in modern mobile games. Convey dynamism and entertainment through ten different styles, from bright and punchy fantasy to Pokemon-like effects

Mobile Game Photoshop Text Effects

Comics Photoshop Text Effects

Superheroes or super-projects – both are equally cool after you use these Photoshop text effects mimicking the traditional and retro comic style. From effects inspired by Captain America sequences to the Aquaman logo, you’ll get everything you need for creating excellent logos, flyers, covers, and other similar materials!

Comics Photoshop Text Effects

Cyberpunk 80s Retro Text Effects

You’ll love this Photoshop action pack if you need to work on projects that require retro-futuristic branding. This excellent pack contains effects such as cyberpunk, vaporwave, glitch, and much more. With these ten styles, you’ll have everything you need to create cool cyberpunk graphics.

Cyberpunk 80s Retro Text Effects

Retro Colorful PSD Text Effects

These colorful and vibrant text effects give you everything you need for creating unique and memorable cinematic sequences, logos, flyers, posters, and more. You’ll get ten styles that work as smart objects, so you can easily add them to any text.

Retro Colorful PSD Text Effects

Ember Effect Photoshop Action

Light a majestic fire in your audience’s hearts with these ember effect Photoshop actions. You can create phenomenal fire, lava, and magma effects for your epic projects. The best part? You can pick from three colors: red, blue, and green. You’ll also get a few brushes and patterns!

Ember Effect Photoshop Action

Text Effect Photoshop Action FAQs

  • What are Text Effect Photoshop Actions?

    They are automated sequences in Photoshop designed to enhance and transform standard text into visually striking graphics with various styles and effects.

  • How Can These Actions Enhance My Graphic Design Projects?

    These actions add creativity and flair to your typography, making it more attention-grabbing and effective in conveying your message in graphic designs.

  • Are Text Effect Actions Suitable for Beginners in Photoshop?

    Yes, they are great for beginners. These actions simplify complex text transformations, making it easier to achieve professional-level designs without extensive Photoshop skills.

  • Can I Customize These Text Effects to Match My Project?

    Most text effect actions allow for customization. You can adjust colors, sizes, and other elements to align the effect with your specific project needs.

  • Do These Actions Work with Any Font?

    While they generally work with a wide range of fonts, some effects may look better with specific types of fonts, like bold or script styles.

  • Are Text Effect Actions Useful for Both Digital and Print Media?

    Absolutely! These actions can be used to enhance text for websites, digital graphics, as well as printed materials like posters and flyers.

  • How Can I Ensure High-Quality Results When Using Text Effect Actions?

    Start with high-resolution text, and make sure to tweak the action’s settings if necessary to get the best quality for your project.

  • Will Using Text Effect Actions Overwrite My Original Text?

    No, most actions create new layers for the effects, leaving your original text layer unaltered.

  • Can These Photoshop Actions Be Used for Logo Design?

    Yes, text effect actions can be creatively used in logo design to give a unique and professional look to your brand’s typography.


These Photoshop actions are an excellent addition to your standard design kit and allow you to maximize the results you get from your graphics. No one can resist creative typography, so pick the perfect Photoshop text action, download it, and get to work. We promise you that your audience and your clients will love it!


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Bird AF, Auto Capture, Pixel Shift


Nikon just announced a major firmware update for the Nikon Z8, bringing it some highly-anticipated features from the Z9 and Zf cameras. The headlining features are a dedicated bird-detection autofocus option, the addition of Auto Capture (borrowed from the Z9) and a Pixel Shift shooting mode that allows capture up to 180 megapixels (borrowed from the Zf). There are also a variety of smaller things added in Version 2.0, including more custom options when assigning buttons, a new “Rich Tone Portrait” Picture Control, and additional shutter sounds.

Taken together, these changes will make one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market even better. I’m encouraged to see Nikon following through on their promise to release such major firmware updates to their mirrorless cameras – it’s an exciting trend!

You can download the new firmware here, as well as reading a full list of all the improvements under the header Changes from “C” Firmware Version 1.01 to 2.00. (The changes are quite extensive, and not everything is listed in the press release):

Nikon also updated NX Tether to Version 2.0. The software now allows a wider range of settings to be controlled while tethering your camera. You can download NX Tether 2.0 here:


Nikon Also Releases Updated Free NX Tether Ver. 2.0 Utility Software to Seamlessly Support Professional Photographer and Videographer Workflow

MELVILLE, NY (February 6, 2024) The critically acclaimed, editorially celebrated and award-winning Nikon Z 8 is getting even better. Today, Nikon announced the availability of the first major firmware update for the Z 8, Firmware Ver. 2.0. This free update adds multiple features and enhancements for still-image, video capture and improved workflow. Additionally, Nikon has also announced availability of the latest version of NX Tether, Nikon’s free tethering software for still and video professionals.

“The Nikon Z 8 already offered best-in-class features; with this latest update, we are once again proving that we are always listening to our customers and will work to surpass their expectations,” said Naoki Onozato, President and CEO of Nikon Inc. “We also realize that our users’ workflow is an important part of the job, and NX Tether Ver 2.0 is an example of the software ecosystem we can provide that integrates seamlessly to enhance the capture experience.”

Z 8 Firmware Ver. 2.0

Similar to the feature previously added to the Nikon Z 9, a dedicated option for birds has been added to the AF subject-detection options, increasing bird-detection performance in a variety of situations and providing greater support for bird photographers. Additionally, support for the Auto Capture function enables automatic shooting when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria, providing users with new options for both stills and video shooting.

The update also adds Pixel Shift shooting, which enables the creation of super high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files captured with the function. With the Z 8’s high-resolution sensor, images can be captured with an astonishing 180 megapixels. Pixel Shift shooting is ideal for capturing the finest details in subjects with intricate designs, such as buildings and art pieces, while providing precise rendering of the subject’s colors, textures, and structures.

There’s more to love with the update, as Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control is added to enable the rendering of rich tones while retaining skin details for portrait photography. In combination with other functions such as Skin softening and Portrait impression balance, portrait photographers have more control than ever. More functions and operations can now be assigned to custom controls, and users now have access to new shutter volume and sound options.

Primary Updates: Z 8 Firmware ver. 2.0

  • A dedicated [Birds] option has been added to the Z 8’s AF subject-detection options. In addition to increased detection, tracking and AF performance with complicated and high-contrast backgrounds such as forests and mountains, this option better enables the detection of birds in various circumstances, including flying, perched and even those with unique-looking appearances.
  • The Auto Capture function has been added, enabling the automatic shooting of stills and video when the subject meets one or more pre-configured criteria. The three criteria that can be configured are a [Motion] option that detects subjects that move in a designated direction, a [Distance]1 option which begins shooting when a subject is within a certain range of distances, and a [Subject detection] option that detects people, animals, vehicles, or airplanes within the frame.
  • Firmware version 2.0 adds Pixel Shift shooting, allowing users to create high-resolution photos by using dedicated software to merge multiple NEF (RAW) files recorded with the camera mounted on a tripod or otherwise stabilized.
  • For portrait photographers, the addition of the Rich Tone Portrait Picture Control increases options for portraiture by realizing the rendering of portraits with rich tones while retaining skin details. This Picture Control is ideal for the creation of a base image in scenes where retouching is presumed, such as at weddings and for studio photography. In combination with the variety of other functions offered by Nikon for portrait photography, such as Portrait impression balance and Skin softening.
  • Other functions, and additional enhancements to operability and functionality:
    • The number of functions and operations that can be assigned to custom control has increased.
    • A function has been added that enables users to exit zoom with a half press of the shutter-release button when focus mode is set to manual focus.
    • New shutter sound and volume options.
    • An option that allows users to choose the width of focus-point borders has been added.
    • An option that allows users to choose not to record shooting orientation information in image EXIF data has been added.
    • A new [Prefer focus point (face priority)] option that centers the display on a face when one is detected while scrolling through photos during playback zoom has been added.

NX Tether Ver 2.0

Nikon is pleased to announce the release of Nikon Tether Ver. 2.0, a computer software application that enhances functionality for tethered shooting2 with a Nikon digital camera, available free of charge.

Ver. 2.0 adds support for popular functions that were part of the Camera Control Pro 23program, such as the configuration of a wide variety of camera settings, live view display during remote tethered shooting and support for video recording. This software helps increase efficiency for solo photographers working unassisted in a studio setting with hand-held shooting or commercial products. This software enables the output to be confirmed with the client on a large monitor as the shoot progresses. The variety of camera settings that can be configured remotely from the computer have also been increased to provide professional photographers the powerful support they need for effective still image and video recording in a wide variety of situations.

The user interface has been designed for ease of use and offers an organized layout of various functions employed with tethered shooting, enabling users to freely adjust the layout of the live view and control displays to better suit their workflow. The simple, yet multi-functional design enables intuitive operation without hesitation for increased work efficiency.

Primary Features: NX Tether Ver 2.0

  • Support provided for still image and video recording.
  • Full-coverage live view display that allows photographers and clients to check that the desired results are being achieved on a large monitor, even when they are away from the computer.
  • Camera operation functions that offer control over shooting settings unique to Nikon, such as Picture Control and Active D-Lighting.
  • Users can select the format (JPEG, RAW, HEIF) in which images are recorded. What’s more, when recording to both card slots (RAW + JPEG or HEIF), the user can choose to have only the JPEG or HEIF images transferred to the computer.
  • Wireless control is also possible by utilizing the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi to connect to the computer with Nikon’s free Wireless Transmitter Utility software. (supported cameras: Z 9, Z 8)
  • Supports an efficient workflow when switching between still image and video recording, and a multi-functional yet simple and easy-to-use user interface.
  • The application window layout can be arranged to suit each user’s preferences and workflow, providing flexible operation in any situation.

Supported OS

  • Windows Version:
    • Microsoft Windows 11
    • Microsoft Windows 10
  • Mac Version:
    • macOS Sonoma 14
    • macOS Ventura 13
    • macOS Monterey 12
  • Cameras supported with Ver. 2.0.04
    • D-SLR Cameras: D6, D780
    • Mirrorless Cameras: Z 9, Z 8, Z 7II, Z 6II, Z 7, Z 6

Price and Availability

Both the Nikon Z 8 Firmware Ver. 2.0 and NX Tether Ver. 2.0 are available for free on the Nikon website. For more information and to download, please visit the below links.

For more information about the latest Nikon products, including the vast collection of NIKKOR Z lenses and the entire line of Z series cameras, please visit

About Nikon 

Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and technologies for photo and video capture; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables visual storytelling and content creation. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional Z Series mirrorless cameras, digital SLR cameras, a vast array of NIKKOR and NIKKOR Z lenses, Speedlights and system accessories, Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras and Nikon software products. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit, which links all levels of photographers and visual storytellers to the Web’s most comprehensive learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon on Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo and Flickr.

# # #

Specifications, equipment, and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.

Trade names (companies, products, services, etc.) are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

  1. [Distance] is available only when a NIKKOR Z lens is used with the camera. Auto Capture may fail to function when lenses other than NIKKOR Z lenses are used.
  2. The process of connecting a camera to a computer or tablet and confirming images and video real-time on-screen as they are shot.
  3. New functions and support for new cameras via Camera Control Pro 2 are not planned in the future. Current users of Camera Control Pro 2 are recommended to use NX Tether.
  4. Only some basic tethered shooting functions are available for use when using the following cameras: Z f, Z 5, Z fc, Z 50, Z 30


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CoffeeShop “Vintage Valentines” Frame and Card Set!


I found these gorgeous valentines, so I cleaned them up in Photoshop to share with you. I also made each one into a pretty vintage photo frame, simply drag your image under the frame layer. These frames are large resolution so can be printed for scrapbooks or posted on the web. They also come with free commercial TOU, so feel free to use them in any of your designs.

Check out all of my other Valentine freebies.

I had some requests to start designing some papers that can be used in more masculine designs and I am already on it. Camping, fishing, hiking, flannel, etc. If you have any design suggestions please leave a comment. I love when you give me some ideas!

Download the CoffeeShop “Vintage Valentine” Card and Frame Set!


Do you want to download thousands of professional CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop actions (including exclusive ones not found anywhere for free), textures/overlays, scrapbooking papers, clip art/design elements, photo storyboards and frames, and Lightroom presets from this site in one convenient zipped file AND help support this one-woman blog?

Just click here for my CoffeeShop Mega Download Pack!


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Photographer Helga Paris, Who Captured Life in East Berlin, Dies at 85


YouTube video

Helga Paris’s work is from a different era. She photographed East Berlin after WWII when German papers preferred to show photos of a happier reality instead of what was really there. Helga opposed this trend and deliberately worked to capture what life was really like in Berlin at the time. Now, Helga leaves us at the age of 85, so out of respect to the veteran photographer, let’s look back on her work and who she was.

Who was Helga Paris

Helga Paris was born on May 21, 1938, in Gollnow, a small town (at the time) in northern Germany. World War Two would start only a year later, changing the course of her life. Helga had to flee with her mother and sister while her father and brothers were still away from home. She would find herself later living in Zossen, a small town near Berlin. There, she was raised by a community of mostly women, many of whom were workers. This was also when her aunts, who were photographers themselves, first introduced her to photography.

However, Helga did not immediately pursue a photography career. Instead, she studied fashion design in Berlin until 1960. After that, she worked as a commercial graphic designer and later as a costume designer in Berlin. Only after graduating did she begin to use her 6×6 Flexaret camera. She did not start her professional photography career until 1967. And it wasn’t until after the German reunification that her work gained traction.

Everyday life in East Berlin after the war

Most of Helga’s work is about showcasing Berlin as it was at the time, with the two main themes being the old buildings and the working women of East Berlin. She had the goal to capture everything as naturally as possible.

“I’ve always been drawn to the every day, the unspectacular,” Helga writes. “But I didn’t photograph it clinically, aseptically; rather, I tried to reproduce it as realistically and as hauntingly as possible.”

” This means that when I photographed women in factories or people on the street, I had to create a certain level of trust in a very short amount of time to bring the people to a state of inner peace where they could meet my gaze with a certain degree of self-confidence. In this peace, every face is an experience; in particular, the rather unremarkable, unattractive ones gain an unforeseen beauty.… My subjects are people. The need to document everyday life in photographs developed out of necessity. In East Germany, only favorable photographs were shown in the papers and to the public—ideally of the happiest people possible. Real life was hardly ever documented”.

In conclusion

The work of Helga Paris is an invaluable piece of German history that will remain important for many years to come. Her work shows the significance of capturing life as it is and is a great example of how one’s work can continue to hold importance for future generations.

We have lost many talented individuals this year, including fashion photographer Hans Feurer and portrait photographer Brian Griffin. However, we should continue to remember their work and allow it to teach and inspire us for years to come.

[via Petapixel]


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File Renaming in Lightroom Classic


Need to brush up on your Lightroom or Photoshop? Having Catalog or Missing File or Folder issues and need help? Using a variety of services, I can help you online with either.


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DAY ONE: Overcoming a Fear of Speedlights


Alex Smith has been using a camera since she was 7 years old to document her life and the lives of her loved ones. She says, “as a photographer, there’s just one thing that makes me nervous that I have avoided for years: using my speedlight.”

Buried in the bottom of a drawer for 11 years, her speedlight started becoming the little monster in the closet she was scared to use.

“People know you can photograph, so they just assume you can do everything. I don’t want to let them down”, she reflects. Yet, feeling uncomfortable using a flash gave Alex a serious case of impostor syndrome.

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Even if we’ve mastered our craft, there are always aspects we are still learning. Learning is messy. It requires time and practice, not to mention the thing we try to avoid: failure.

Failure leads to self-doubt which stops us from trying in the first place.

CreativeLive instructor Mel Robbins shared in her class How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence, it’s natural to be feel nervous and scared when we try something new. The result? We either succeed or we survive but either way, we learn something.

Mel emphasizes the key to breaking the cycle of self-doubt is action. Mindset and positive thinking alone cannot break the cycle. When we learn by doing, we build competency. The more competent we become at new skills, we start to experience less fear, less anxiety and increase our real confidence.

Learning a New Skill

To conquer her fear of flash photography, Alex enrolled herself in Mark Wallace’s Speedlights 101 class.

Alex Smith taking Mark Wallace's Speedlight 101 class from CreativeLive

Using her husband as a model, Alex put the class into action by shooting different scenes around her house. Her main goal? Stop using TTL (automatic mode) on her camera flash and start using manual to control the light hitting her subject.

Deliberate practice in a low pressure environment can help us feel comfortable experimenting and making mistakes. The point isn’t to create award winning shots on day one, but to set simple yet challenging goals to start learning the basics.

“Normally I would see a bad shot with my flash and panic. I’d take the flash off and shoot it with natural light.” Yet because Alex intended the session as practice, she was more willing to persevere and keep experimenting.

Comparison of two photographs taken while learning to use a speedlight for the first time

Permission to Suck

The process of learning involves small wins and a whole lot of failure. The only way around it is through. The key is to give yourself permission to suck and keep the risk small.

Small successes are the building blocks to learning new skills. In his book Creative Calling, CreativeLive CEO Chase Jarvis writes, “your conscious mind is a critic. If you rely on it too much while you’re working, you’ll struggle to make progress.”

His recommendation? Don’t judge your shitty first draft. Just get the draft completed and then start iterating.

Chase reminds us it takes a volume of work to develop skills. It’s not about getting it perfect, it’s about getting it done. As he likes to say: Make it, till you make it.

Alex noted about the practice session, “I’ve come a long way since my first (over exposed) images to giving someone side lighting. That’s a huge win for me.”

“Ideally we never stop learning no matter how old we get”, adds Alex. “I needed to jumpstart this in my own life again. I often find myself avoiding uncomfortable things or situations until they very last minute. It isn’t until there’s a deadline that I pull myself off the couch and get to work.”

Learning to Use Speedlights

If Alex’s first day with her speedlight inspired you to dig out yours, here are some classes she recommends:


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Parametric Filters in Photoshop Ultimate Guide



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Why PhotoShelter is the Best Way to Back Up Your Entire Image Archive


What would you do if you lost all of your photos? Years of client work, building up your portfolio, telling stories that matter and precious memories – gone, just like that. It happens more often than we’d like to believe. Hard drives break or get lost, computers crash, and hackers hack. It’s downright unthinkable for a professional photographer, a worst-case scenario.

If reading this fills you to the brim with anxiety, you’re not alone. We’ve got your back.

March 31st is World Backup Day, the perfect time to make sure your photos are backed up and better protected. But at PhotoShelter, every day is World Backup Day. So don’t worry. We’re here to bring you some much-needed peace of mind.

7 things you may not know about PhotoShelter and why we’re the best way to keep your photos safe

1. PhotoShelter was the cloud before the cloud

Since 2005, we’ve operated our own highly secure, lightning-fast network with a track record of 100% durability. We don’t rely on other cloud platforms to keep your images safe, and we’ve never lost a single bit of data. Ever. We’re proud to bring you the most secure cloud-based technology and performance in the industry (and since we were early pioneers of this technology, we have more management experience than other cloud platforms, too).

2. Every aspect of our infrastructure has geo-redundancy

From the network to the servers to the drives that store your photos, your backups have backups here. We keep multiple copies of each file on multiple servers in multiple geographic locations – so you’ll never have to worry about a damaged or lost hard drive again.

3. No restrictions on image type or size (and all the storage you need!)

You’re able to back up ALL of your photos with us. Not just the JPEGs, not just the smaller files. Upload any image format, any size. Give us your RAWs, your TIFFs and everything in between. Add totally unlimited storage with our Pro plan and you can build a truly robust online image archive with absolutely no limitations. 

PhotoShelter has changed my professional life. My process has revolutionized since making the switch and my clients have gotten spoiled. As my equipment improves and my file sizes more than double, I love that unlimited storage doesn’t interrupt the workflow for me or my clients due to space restrictions. Being able to upload full resolution allows my clients to freely choose what download size works best for them, and I can track what images are being downloaded to better learn what works for their creative needs.

Casey Templeton, Corporate & Commercial Photographer

4. Uploads are effortless

Uploading to PhotoShelter is seamless, even when you have a large batch of photos you need to add all at once. From simple drag and drop to our Lightroom and Photo Mechanic plugins, you’ve got options. You can even FTP directly from your camera.

5. We’re all about easy access

Making sure all of your photos are safe and organized in your PhotoShelter archive is great – but not so great if you can’t easily access your files when you need them most. That moment may come when you’re sitting right in front of your computer, or when you’re on a job in a remote location with nothing but your camera, phone and a spotty connection. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Instantly access your entire archive from any device, from anywhere in the world, at any time. All you need is a little bit of wi-fi, and you have full access to all of your files. (Shoutout to our FileFlow app!)

I rely on PhotoShelter daily for my commercial, editorial and fine art photography. I am often traveling on assignment and it is not uncommon for magazines or clients to contact me frantically in need of a certain image. Thankfully, because I’m able to have so many of my photos uploaded to PhotoShelter, I can quickly get them the photos they need. It’s great because it’s so quick for image delivery and it doesn’t matter where I am or where they are. The last 4 cookbooks I’ve photographed have had the high res final images all delivered to the publisher via PhotoShelter.

Paulette Phlipot, Food Photographer

6. PhotoShelter isn’t just a backup

And your archive isn’t just an archive when it’s paired with our powerful, easy-to-use tools. Building your website, sharing and delivering your work, selling prints, licenses or downloads – it all happens here.

7. You control it all

The best part? Whether tagging and organizing your images or setting visibility and access permissions, you’re in control. Make photos public, share galleries with specific clients, or keep things totally private. It’s all up to you.

To date, our secure cloud storage system oversees more than one billion individual files, and that number is constantly climbing. Our members add more than 11 million new files every month! And we take the honor of protecting your data and life’s work with the seriousness it deserves. 

Are you ready to make sure your photos are properly backed up on this World Backup Day? Start your free trial now and see for yourself why PhotoShelter is the best way to keep your files safe, organized and available to you and your clients, 24/7.


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