News

Rowing in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland – in pictures

Coastal rowing in small traditional skiffs is undergoing a revival in Scotland. Photographer Murdo MacLeod joins a community club on an expedition to explore the islands off Lewis and Harris

We are not a rampaging clan but a community rowing club come to reacquaint ourselves with our coastal environment and heritage on a four-day tour off the coast of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Our fleet comprised 40 rowers and sailors in five skiffs, a one-man row boat, a 10-metre dipping lugsail and two safety craft.

Scottish coastal rowing is deeply rooted in the myth and lore of the islands​ but is also very modern

Continue reading...
Categories: News

How to shoot classic beauty product photography on a budget

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 20:26

Dustin Dolby of Workphlo is back with another simple step-by-step tutorial that shows you how to create professional-looking magazine-quality product photography using affordable gear—in this case, he uses two speedlights inside strip boxes, and could have used just one.

For this shoot, Dolby is tackling beauty care products, which he decided to place on white plexiglass because of the subtle reflection this creates. From there, he brings out his trusty strip lights (two of them) and some diffusion material, and begins to "build" his composition. Over the course of five minutes he captures seven different lighting variants and a silhouette (which he uses as a mask):

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He then combines these images to taste in Photoshop, using the mask to cut out his products and picking a color from within the product itself to use as a solid background. The final image looks just like any other classic beauty care shot you might see in a popular magazine:

Check out the video at the top to walk through the tutorial step-by-step. And if you like Dolby's style you can find more of his tutorials on his YouTube channel.

Categories: News

FrontRow is a life-logging camera in the shape of a necklace pendant

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 19:11
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Company Ubiquiti has announced the launch of FrontRow: a pendant-shaped life-logging camera designed to record your life experiences automatically. As with other life-logging cameras, FrontRow doesn't require user interaction; instead, it faces outward from your necklace and records everything that takes place in front of you automatically. The content is then assembled with a mobile app and can be shared with the world at will.

Life-logging cameras are not new, and they are arguably not very popular either, leaving Ubiquiti with an uphill battle if it hopes to see any substantial success with FrontRow.

Unlike past life-logging cameras, FrontRow is designed to dangle from a lanyard rather than clip onto a shirt or backpack strap—a design that is ostensibly more convenient when you're talking about something that is supposed to be worn all day or for many hours at a time.

FrontRow features an 8MP F2.2 main camera with a 148-degree FOV, as well as a 5MP F2.0 reverse camera. Unlike some other life-logging cameras, FrontRow also boasts a round touchscreen display not unlike what you'd find on a smartwatch. The display has a 640 x 572 resolution with full color and multi-touch support.

Other features include USB-C, a stereo microphone, 1W integrated speaker, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

This camera is compatible with both Android and iOS, and supports both live streaming video and creating time-lapses as part of its 'Story Mode'—supported platforms include YouTube Live, Twitter Live, and Facebook Live. FrontRow is currently listed as 'coming soon' on its product website, where both Black and Rose color options are presented with a $400 USD price tag.

Whether consumers will be willing to pay such a high price for what is essentially a novelty camera is yet to be seen. Previous life-logging cameras from other manufacturers have largely struggled to survive in a market dominated by smartphones, and they have been the subject of fierce criticism over their perceived threat to the privacy of both users and anyone who comes into contact with them.

Press Release

Introducing FrontRow: The Camera Re-Invented

NEW YORK—Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: UBNT) today announced FrontRow, a new camera technology enabling the effortless capture and sharing of life’s experiences.

Truly Wearable

FrontRow’s sleek, 55-gram (less than the weight of a typical smart-watch) form-factor was specifically designed to wear conveniently. Unlike traditional cameras and smartphones requiring manual operation, FrontRow can operate fully autonomously — allowing one to capture life’s experiences while completely staying in the moment.

The Design

A subtle interlocking connector provides the flexibility to wear FrontRow using the included stylish lanyard or multi-purpose magnetic clip, or third party chains. Upcoming accessories include a car window mount and flexible coil mount. FrontRow features cameras on both sides of the device. The primary camera features a 140 degree wide-view lens (roughly double that of a typical smartphone) that, combined with FrontRow's microphone array, allows for more complete capturing of experiences. The device features a speaker for local playback and an easy-access clickable media button that can be used to quickly start and stop many of FrontRow’s capture functions. FrontRow has a standby time of up to 48 hours and is capable of capturing in Story Mode (time-lapse capture of experiences) for up to 16 hours and in Live-Streaming Mode for up to 2 hours. With its USB Type-C connector, the device can be charged on the go using other Type-C smartphones and has a quick-charge time of around 20 minutes.

The User-Experience

FrontRow’s user experience is unlike any camera brought to market. Built around a custom 2-inch circular hi-resolution touch screen, FrontRow’s user interface allows instant live streaming on social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as integration with a variety of popular applications like Dropbox, Spotify, and more. Fast Bluetooth allows effortless connectivity to smartphones running the FrontRow App (iOS and Android compatible) and provides seamless captured media transfer along with powerful remote control capabilities. The device can also be accessed (even remotely) through the Internet using the web UI controller at frontrow.com.

Not Just a Device, A New Platform

Although FrontRow’s user experience and graphical user interface are unique, its underlying operating system was designed to be Android-compatible in an effort to open up 3rd party application development. Users and developers are welcome to openly discuss new applications and shape the future of the platform — directly with the FrontRow’s engineering team on community.frontrow.com.

FrontRow is available now on FrontRow.com and Amazon.com. A full press kit is available for download here. Follow FrontRow on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Categories: News

Super fast, tiny Samsung T5 portable SSD hits 540MB/s, can handle raw 4K video

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 17:26

Samsung has introduced a new ultra-fast, teeny-tiny solid-state-drive called the Samsung Portable SSD T5. This model boasts up to a 2TB capacity alongside transfer speeds that reach up to 540MB/s, making it suitable for editing raw 4K footage and other large files. This drive is notable for its use of Samsung's 64-layer V-NAND technology, the driving force behind the rapid transfer speeds of this lightweight, pocketable model.

Compared to the company's own testing with an external 500GB HDD, Samsung says its T5 SSD model is nearly 5 times faster, this despite measuring in at only 3 x 2.3 x 0.4-inches / 74 x 57.3 x 10.5mm. The South Korean company has also boosted the SSD's durability by using a shock-resistant internal frame, one capable of handling drops from heights as high as 6.6ft / 2m.

The drive features USB-C, and is shipped with two cables, one featuring a USB-C connector and another featuring a USB-A connector.

The T5 drive is offered in two finishes: Alluring Blue, which comes in 250GB and 500GB capacities, and Deep Black, which comes in 1TB and 2TB capacities. All four models feature AES 256-bit hardware encryption and are joined by a companion app that makes them compatible with Android mobile devices.

The models are available as of today starting at $130 USD.

Press Release

Samsung Electronics Introduces New Portable SSD T5 – The Latest Evolution in Fast, Reliable Storage

Built with V-NAND technology, drive features industry-leading transfer speeds with encrypted data security in a compact and durable design

Samsung Electronics today announced the introduction of the Samsung Portable SSD T5 the newest portable solid state drive (PSSD) that raises the bar for the performance of external memory products. The T5, built with Samsung’s latest 64-layer V-NAND technology, delivers industry-leading transfer speeds with encrypted data security in a compact and durable design, making it easier than ever for consumers to access their most valuable data anywhere, at any time.

“Samsung has been pushing the envelope of what is possible in portable storage and solid state drives for years, and the Portable SSD T5 continues our legacy of leadership and innovation,” said Un-Soo Kim, Senior Vice President of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. “We are confident that the T5 will exceed consumers’ expectations for external storage by offering faster speeds and a solid design that is lightweight and conveniently pocket-sized. It is the ideal portable storage product for consumers and professionals who are in search of a fast, durable and secure device.”

Delivering stunning speeds of up to 540 MB/s1 – up to 4.9 times faster2 than external HDD products – the new T5 is designed especially for content creators, business and IT professionals as well as mainstream consumers to give instant, easy access to data. Also, the T5 is smaller than an average business card at 74 x 57.3 x 10.5 millimeters (3.0 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches) and incredibly lightweight at a mere 51 grams, comfortably fitting in the palm of your hand. The aluminum exterior comes in two distinct metal finishes – Deep Black (1TB and 2TB models) and Alluring Blue (250GB and 500GB models).

With no moving parts and a shock-resistant internal frame, the T5 offers users peace of mind as it can withstand accidental drops of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet)3. The Samsung Portable SSD Software4 for PCs and Macs based on the AES 256-bit hardware data encryption makes it easy to configure security settings and receive the latest firmware and software updates. A mobile app5 is also available for Android smartphones and tablets for even further convenience. In addition, the T5 includes two connection cables – USB-C to C and USB-C to A – for enhanced compatibility across numerous devices.6

The T5 comes with a three-year limited warranty and will be available globally Aug. 15 with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $129.99 for the 250GB model. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com/T5.

Key Specifications Category Samsung Portable SSD T5 Capacity 2TB/1TB (Deep Black), 500GB/250GB7 (Alluring Blue) Interface USB 3.1 (Gen 2, 10Gbps) backwards compatibility Dimensions (LxWxH) 74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm (3.0 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches) Weight 51 grams (1.8 oz)8 Transfer Speed Up to 540 MB/s UASP Mode Supported Encryption AES 256-bit hardware data encryption Security Samsung Portable SSD Software9 Certifications CE, BSMI, KC, VCCI, C-tick, FCC, IC, UL, TUV, CB RoHS Compliance RoHS2 Warranty Three Year Limited Warranty10
Categories: News

DJI releases offline mode to calm fears over privacy and security

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 16:24
Photo by Aaron Burden

Earlier this month, drone maker DJI took a huge PR hit when the US Army abruptly stopped using the company's drones due to 'cyber vulnerabilities.' The decision was revealed in a leaked memo, and DJI was left defending its privacy and security practices to a suddenly skeptical public. Today, the company takes its privacy efforts a bit further with the release of a 'Local Data Mode' that allows pilots to fly their DJI drones without an internet connection.

The mode was announced yesterday, and it does exactly what it sounds like: when enabled, it stops all data transfer and connectivity between DJI's apps and the internet. It's like incognito mode for drones.

DJI uses that internet connection to "ensure a drone has the most relevant local maps and geofencing data, latest app versions, correct radio frequency and power requirements, and other information that enhances flight safety and functionality," but the company understands that not all customers need or want this functionality to be on all the time.

“We are creating local data mode to address the needs of our enterprise customers, including public and private organizations that are using DJI technology to perform sensitive operations around the world,” DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman says in the press release. “DJI is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers’ photos, videos and flight logs. Local data mode will provide added assurances for customers with heightened data security needs.”

Despite the timing of the release, DJI has told the New York Times that the company has not been in touch with the US Army about its security concerns, and besides, this update seems to have been in the works since before the memo in question went public. Still, this 'offline' option feels like a win for privacy advocates and the military alike.

Local Data Mode will be available in DJI's fleet of apps "starting in the next several weeks"—these include DJI GO, DJI GO 4, DJI XT Pro, DJI Pilot and Ground Station Pro. But be warned, due to some local regulations and/or requirements, it might not be available in all areas.

To find out more, read the full press release below:

Press Release

DJI Develops Option For Pilots To Fly Without Internet Data Transfer

New Local Data Mode Provides Enhanced Data Privacy Assurances

August 14, 2017 – DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, is developing a new local data mode that stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps, in order to provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers.

DJI’s flight control apps routinely communicate over the internet to ensure a drone has the most relevant local maps and geofencing data, latest app versions, correct radio frequency and power requirements, and other information that enhances flight safety and functionality. When a pilot enables local data mode, DJI apps will stop sending or receiving any data over the internet, giving customers enhanced assurances about the privacy of data generated during their flights.

“We are creating local data mode to address the needs of our enterprise customers, including public and private organizations that are using DJI technology to perform sensitive operations around the world,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “DJI is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers’ photos, videos and flight logs. Local data mode will provide added assurances for customers with heightened data security needs.”

Because it blocks all internet data, use of local data mode means DJI apps will not update maps or geofencing information, will not notify pilots of newly-issued flight restrictions or software updates, and may result in other performance limitations. However, it will provide an enhanced level of data assurance for sensitive flights, such as those involving critical infrastructure, commercial trade secrets, governmental functions or other similar operations.

“We are pleased about how rapidly DJI’s customer base has expanded from hobbyists and personal drone pilots to include professional, commercial, government and educational users,” said Jan Gasparic, DJI head of enterprise partnership. “As more of these customers have asked for additional assurances about how their data is handled, DJI has moved to address their needs by developing local data mode to provide enhanced data management options for customers who want to use them.”

DJI recognizes the importance of data privacy to its customers. DJI does not collect or have access to user flight logs, photos or videos unless the user chooses to share those by syncing flight logs with DJI servers, uploading photos or videos to DJI’s SkyPixel website, or physically delivering the drone to DJI for service.

DJI publicly committed to protecting its customers’ data privacy in April 2016. In a March 2017 white paper, DJI became the first major drone manufacturer to advocate for protecting the privacy of drone users as the United States and European governments develop regulations to monitor drone flights. No other civilian drone manufacturer there has been as vocal as DJI in protecting the operational and data privacy interests of drone users.

“Local data mode will allow customers to get the most out of their DJI flight control apps while providing added assurance that critical data is not inadvertently transmitted over the internet,” Schulman said. “We are pleased to be able to develop local data mode as part of our drive to serve our customers’ needs as well as advocate for their interests.”

Local data mode has been in development for several months and will be included in future versions of DJI apps, starting in the next several weeks. DJI’s apps include DJI GO, DJI GO 4, DJI XT Pro, DJI Pilot and Ground Station Pro, which run on smartphones and tablets that control the drone or connect to the drone’s remote control unit. The local data mode feature may not be available in locations where an internet connection is required or highly advisable due to local regulations or requirements.

Categories: News

Macphun unveils Aurora HDR 2018: Will come to Mac and PC with new tools and UI

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 15:42

Macphun today announced the upcoming release of Aurora HDR 2018, the latest version of its popular HDR creation software created in collaboration with photographer Trey Ratcliff. After 1.7 million downloads on Mac computers since its launch in November 2015, Aurora HDR will now for the first time be available for Windows PCs as well.

New tools and improvements include a lens correction filter that is capable of removing all kinds of lens distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting, a redesigned user interface, up to 4x improvement in RAW image processing and up to 200% faster merging and masking performance.

Here are some screenshots of the new UI:

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And a few Before and After images created by Trey Ratcliff, to show what Aurora HDR 2018 can do:

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Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-­order starting September 12th, and the released date is scheduled for September 28th. Current users of Aurora HDR will be able to upgrade at a special pre­-order price of $50—the pre-order price for new users is $90.

You can find more information and sign-up for the pre-order announcements on the Aurora HDR 2018 website.

Aurora HDR 2018 comes in September as the ultimate cross-platform HDR photo solution

Award-winning Aurora HDR, co-developed with Trey Ratcliff, brings major updates that will be available for both Mac OS and Windows users.

San Diego, CA - August 15, 2017 — Macphun, the California-based developer known for making complex photo editing software simple and fun, today announced the release of Aurora HDR 2018, the one-stop solution for HDR photography. To sign up for pre-order announcements and more, please visit https://aurorahdr.com/2018.

Aurora HDR, co-developed with the renowned HDR photographer Trey Ratcliff, made the complex task of HDR editing effortless and unintimidating. Aurora HDR became the industry standard for HDR photo editing on Mac and reached 1.7 million downloads since its launch in November 2015.

In less than 2 years over 100 million photos have been edited in Aurora HDR and 72% of current users have made Aurora HDR their primary HDR photo editor, switching from other software. Today, Aurora HDR is the go-to editing software for such well-known photographers as Trey Ratcliff, Serge Ramelli, Captain Kimo and many others.

“Since the launch of Aurora HDR, Macphun has released more than 10 updates containing tons of new features and improved performance,” commented Trey Ratcliff. “Today, I'm very excited to announce the launch of Aurora HDR 2018. It's completely new, significantly faster and has even more powerful tools. Plus the BIG news is that it's now available for Microsoft Windows as well. It's truly the best HDR software for both Mac and PCs”, concluded Ratcliff.

Aurora HDR is not just a tool for merging brackets: it brings countless options to create perfect HDR photos - from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction and powerful luminosity masking controls.

A sneak peek into what’s new in Aurora HDR 2018:

  • Lens Correction Tool - The new Lens Correction filter easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel and pincushion to chromatic aberration and vignetting.
  • New User Interface - Redesigned from scratch, the modern and responsive user interface brings a powerful, yet joyful experience to HDR photo editing.
  • Speed improvements - Up to 4x improvement in RAW image processing, and up to 200% faster merging and masking performance means that Aurora HDR 2018 is dramatically faster than the last version.
  • Cross-platform version - Aurora HDR 2018 will be available both for Mac and PC users with interchangeable files, enabling mixed-computer households to share the same product key.
  • A complete list of new features will be announced concurrent with the pre-order.

Availability:

Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-­order on September 12, and released on September 28. To sign up for pre-order announcements and more, please visithttps://aurorahdr.com/2018.

Pricing:

Mixed-computer households can share the same product key for Mac and PC that can be activated on 5 devices.

  • Pre-order:

o Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade at a special pre­-order price of $49

o New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 at a special pre­order price of $89

o A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase

  • Retail price:

o $59 for current Aurora HDR users

o $99 for new user

Categories: News

Oprema Jena seeks to resurrect the legendary Zeiss Biotar 75mm F1.5

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 15:36

The company behind the new Meyer Optik Goerlitz lens manufacturing business has formed a new brand to bring back the Biotar 75mm F1.5 that was made by Carl Zeiss Jena in the 1940s and 50s. Many of the original examples were made in East Germany after WWll and in quite low volumes, so they command high prices for their rarity, but also the extraordinary swirling they create when used at wide apertures.

The new version is being redesigned by the company that owns the Meyer Optik Goerlitz brand, but as it will not be made in Germany this time a new name has been conceived—Oprema Jena, in recognition of the location of the original factory. The attempted lens resurrection launched this morning on Kickstarter:

As the Kickstarter describes, this lens is a rarity:

The Biotar 75/1.5 is probably the most legendary lens ever produced in Jena, Germany.

It is a six lens gauss type optical scheme whose design dates back to the year 1927 when famous lens designer Willi Merté developed his first Biotar which was designed for cinematography.

In the 1930th Merté continued to improve the Biotar lenses among which the 75mm/1.5 reached legendary status. The Biotar 75/1.5 was first introduced in 1938, sales began to pick up with a presentation at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1940.

But due to second world war and to its high price at the time it remained a very special lens for the selected few. Until today it has become one of the most expensive vintage lenses easily selling for over a thousand dollars – if you get a usable one.

The original Biotar (left) next to the Oprema Jena version (right) currently being funded on Kickstarter.

The lens is being designed by Dr Prenzel who works with Meyer Optik on its reinvented lenses, and by Andre de Winter, a former Leica engineer. All the manufacturing will be done in Japan by Tokina, so that this new line doesn’t interfere with production of the Meyer lenses.

The company's goal is to "maintain the exact Biotar characteristics while carefully improving the mechanical aspects and making it feasible for modern camera equipment and different mounts." That means a tack-sharp center with "dramatic but not overly-aggressive" swirly bokeh when shot wide-open.

Thanks to new lens technologies, high-quality glass, advanced coatings and more, Oprema Jena is confident they've avoided some of the disadvantages of the classic Biotar without sacrificing any of the lens' advantages.

Launched on Kickstarter this morning, the lens is already fully-funded and the total funding ($107,000 as of this writing) goes up with every page reload. Fortunately, there are still some great deals to be had if you hurry over to the Kickstarter page now.

The 'Crazy Deal' earlybird special will snag you a Biotar 75mm F1.5 in any mount for $950. Once those are gone, Super Early Bird deals are $1,000, Early Bird are $1,050, and the regular Kickstarter price is $1,100. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony-E, Leica-M (rangefinder coupling supported), Fuji X, and M42 mounts.

To learn more or put down a pledge and claim your own Biotar, head over to the Kickstarter page.

Categories: News

New Qualcomm Spectra system brings 3D depth sensing to Android devices

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 14:40

Qualcomm launched the Clear Sight dual-camera system—which was powered by its Spectra ISP and used a combination of RGB and monochrome images sensors—in 2016. Today the company announced the second generation Spectra Module that introduces 3D computer vision to Qualcomm-powered Android devices.

The Qualcomm system is a dual-camera setup that is capable of sensing depth and motion in real time. In a smartphone's rear camera, this technology could be used in apps to track motion and measure subject distance, which could ostensibly help improve simulated shallow depth-of-field effects.

In a front-facing camera, the Qualcomm system could help improve biometric security through iris scanning or 3D facial recognition. One of the technology's advantages is the capability to capture and process image data in real time using off-the-shelf parts, unlike Google's Tango project that relies on specialized hardware.

Qualcomm hasn't yet announced any manufacturing partners yet, but given the popularity of the Qualcomm platform it's arguably only a matter of time before we'll see the technology pop up in the first Android devices.

Press Release

Qualcomm First to Announce Depth-Sensing Camera Technology Designed For Android Ecosystem

— Unveils next-generation Qualcomm Spectra ISP for computer vision, extended reality and computational photography technologies—

SAN DIEGO — August 15, 2017 — Today Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM), through its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., announced an expansion to the Qualcomm® Spectra™ Module Program, capable of improved biometric authentication and high-resolution depth sensing, designed to meet growing demands of photo and video for a broad range of mobile devices and head mounted displays (HMD). This module program is built on the cutting-edge technology behind the Qualcomm® SpectraTM embedded image signal processors (ISP) family. Engineered by Qualcomm Technologies from the ground up, Qualcomm Spectra paves the way for future image quality and computer vision innovations in upcoming Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM Mobile Platforms.

"Whether used for computational photography, video recording, or for computer vision applications that require accurate motion tracking, it's clear that power efficient camera image signal processing has become more important for the next generation of mobile user experiences," said Tim Leland, vice president of product management, Qualcomm TechnologiesInc. "Our breakthrough advancements in visual quality and computer vision, combined with our family of integrated Spectra ISPs for Snapdragon, are designed to support an ecosystem of cutting edge mobile applications for our customers."

Together, the new ISPs and camera modules are engineered to support superior image quality and new computer vision use cases that utilize deep learning techniques and bokeh quality image experiences with a faster time to market for smartphone and HMD devices. The next-generation ISPs feature a new camera architecture designed for advancements in computer vision, image quality and power efficiency for the next Snapdragon mobile and VR platforms. The camera module program additions consist of a trio of camera modules, including an iris authentication module, a passive depth sensing module and an active depth sensing module.

Qualcomm Spectra Module Program

Launched last year, the Qualcomm Spectra Module Program was designed to help customers accelerate time to market for devices with stunning image quality and advanced camera technology. Last year's offerings provided customers with optimized, dual-camera module solutions that make it easy for manufacturers to produce smartphone cameras with improved low light photography and video recording with smooth zoom. Now, the camera module program is being expanded to include new camera modules capable of utilizing active sensing for superior biometric authentication, and structured light for a variety of computer vision applications that require real-time, dense depth map generation and segmentation.

Second-generation Qualcomm Spectra ISP

The second-generation Qualcomm Spectra ISP is the next family of integrated ISPs that utilizes new hardware and software architecture designed specifically for advancements in computer vision, image quality, and power efficiency in future Snapdragon platforms. It features multiframe noise reduction for superior photographic quality, along with hardware-accelerated motion compensated temporal filtering (MCTF), and inline electronic image stabilization (EIS) for superior camcorder-like video quality.

The low-power, high-performance motion tracking capabilities of the Qualcomm Spectra ISP, in addition to optimized simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, are designed to support new extended reality (XR) use cases for virtual and augmented reality applications that require SLAM.

The Qualcomm Spectra family of ISPs and new Qualcomm Spectra camera modules are expected to be part of the next flagship Snapdragon Mobile Platform.

About Qualcomm

Qualcomm's technologies powered the smartphone revolution and connected billions of people. We pioneered 3G and 4G – and now we are leading the way to 5G and a new era of intelligent, connected devices. Our products are revolutionizing industries, including automotive, computing, IoT, healthcare and data center, and are allowing millions of devices to connect with each other in ways never before imagined. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, all of our engineering, research and development functions, and all of our products and services businesses, including, our QCT semiconductor business. For more information, visit Qualcomm's website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Categories: News

How to shoot the solar eclipse: a list of resources for photographers

DP Review News - Tue, 15/08/2017 - 14:00
The first successfully captured photograph of a total solar eclipse was shot on July 28, 1851, by Prussian photographer Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski. Your eclipse photos can look better than this, with a little advice from some of our friends.

If you live in North America or are a citizen of planet Earth, you've probably heard chatter about the upcoming solar eclipse starting the morning of August 21st. It's a rare opportunity for a lot of folks across the United States to see and/or photograph a partial or total eclipse of the sun, and it's all happening just under a week from now.

We've already published our guide to photographing the eclipse (and a plea to consider not photographing it), but the Internet has no shortage of great information on the subject, some of which goes very in-depth. In an effort to provide you with the totality of eclipse photography resources, we've rounded up some of our other favorite articles and guides below. Good luck, and remember to protect those eyes and sensors!

Canon eclipse guide - 16 articles on shooting the eclipse

Canon's guide to photographing the solar eclipse is very impressive and thorough. It features more than 15 articles on the subject. There's also a nifty 'Solar eclipse pocket field guide' PDF you can download and print. The guide is slightly geared to Canon shooters, but we feel the information is useful to all photographers, regardless of brand of choice.

Read Canon's eclipse guide

B & H eclipse guide- An easy-to-read complete guide

B & H also posted a really thorough guide on everything you should consider to safely and successfully shoot the eclipse. And unlike the Canon guide, these tips are all in one (long) article.

Read B & H's eclipse guide

National Geographic - The creative side of photographing the eclipse

National Geographic's guide to shooting the eclipse is less technical nuts-and-bolts and more about planning, composition and creativity. Nat Geo pinged pro shooters Stan Honda and Babak Tafreshi to share their advice on getting the shot.

Read Nat Geo's eclipse article

Wired - Tips for shooting an eclipse with a smartphone

Smartphones, with their tiny sensors and wide-angle lenses might not seem like the obvious choice for photographing the eclipse, but Wired has some tips for making the most of the camera you likely always have on you. In short, they recommend purchasing an accessory telephoto lens to attach to your phone (there are several decent brands that make them), and stabilizing the rig with a small tripod.

Read Wired's eclipse article

Nikon - Exposure advice

Nikon put together some useful information on the various types of eclipses, and what kinds of exposures you might use over the course of a total solar eclipse. If you're a Nikon shooter, the post addresses camera settings for various Nikon lines.

Read Nikon's eclipse article

Nikon also put together a couple of videos on eclipse gear preparation and shooting advice, for those who prefer to watch instead of read. Watch them here.

Astropix.com - Catching the light

This eclipse guide was recommended in our forums by a reader. Written by astrophotographer Jerry Lodriguss, it is one of the most complete and detailed guides to eclipse photography we've come across on the Internet. If you are serious about nailing the shot, this is your guide. However, for the more casual/enthusiast photographers, this guide goes a tad above and beyond.

Read the Astropix.com guide

Popular Mechanics - How to photograph a total solar eclipse

Unlike the Astropix.com guide above, Popular Mechanics guide is more enthusiast-geared, but still covers all the core eclipse shooting information. There's also a nine-minute video that largely covers the same material found in the article. And the author also briefly addresses post-production, something most other guides gloss over.

Read Pop Mech's guide

Feel free to share your town eclipse resources in the comments below.

Categories: News

Beach without a sea – in pictures

Ward Roberts shot sunbathers and distant buildings at New York’s Far Rockaway beach, rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy. But where are the waves?

Continue reading...
Categories: News

f11 Magazine is suspending publication due to financial troubles

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 20:42

Photography publication f11 Magazine is being suspended, perhaps permanently, due to trouble funding the endeavor using its current advertising strategies. Subscribers have been alerted to the pending closure via an email, which explains that, "the concept of a magazine free to readers and funded entirely by advertising support proved much more difficult to sustain as a business proposition." The publication hopes to return in the future if an adequate solution is found.

f11 Magazine was founded in 2011 as a publication that focuses on photos rather than gear; a magazine that was free to download with all revenue coming from advertising. As spelled out in the email, however, this business model simply hasn't been sustainable for the magazine. Until such a time when an alternative is found—if one is found—the magazine will not produce any new issues. If the magazine does return, it may differ from its current presentation.

You can read the full email text below:

An update for our subscribers...

After six years and 66 issues of publishing f11 Magazine, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to place the magazine in suspension. There are no new issues planned at this stage.

The idea of a magazine about photography and photographers - rather than cameras and accessories - found a loyal and appreciative audience around the world. I like to think that our approach was more cerebral than many other titles, and that we were able to rise above the perils of pixel peeping, equipment worship, and the banal. Our mission was to expose the work of photographers, display their collections, and describe their personal journeys. We were never short of content as we made the world our home.

Unfortunately, the concept of a magazine free to readers and funded entirely by advertising support proved much more difficult to sustain as a business proposition. I'm investigating other options to keep the title alive in some form, but this will take time and dialogue with others - hence the decision to suspend publication at this point. It's my hope that a successful outcome from one of these conversations will expose the magazine to a much larger potential audience, while at the same time ensuring its financial viability with a new business model.

If you have been a reader, a commercial supporter, or simply a believer in our approach to content and community I thank you sincerely for your encouragement and participation. I know not what the future holds for f11 Magazine, for photographers and aficionados, but I'm personally proud of the content and quality that a small team has been able to produce consistently. We've been on time, on topic, and appreciated for 66 consecutive issues - and that's no small achievement.

Once we have a meaningful update to share, I'll be sure to let you know. Equally, if you have any thoughts that you'd like to share with me, please feel free to get in touch: feedback@f11magazine.com.

Kind regards, Tim

Categories: News

A forgotten solution: Why this strange 1975 zoom lens is so sharp

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 19:52

For a few years now, I’ve had in my collection one very strange lens. I bought it primarily for it’s value as a collectible so, up until now, I haven’t really spent much time playing with it.

Made in 1975, this manual focus Minolta MC Rokkor-X 40-80mm F2.8 lens is one strange puppy. When it was first introduced, no other zoom lens could top its image quality and it really didn’t have much competition until more recent years. This is largely due to its very unique Gearbox design that sought to overcome the problem with zoom lenses that we still face today.

Way back in 1959, the first commercially-available 35mm still camera zoom lens, the Bessematic-mount Zoomar 36-82mm F2.8, was released by Voightlander. It’s mechanical design would not be unfamiliar to you since the focus and focal length were adjusted via a few round-turns of the lens barrel.

This simple helicoid design remains the only common method manufacturers use to make our lenses zoom in and out and focus. When you twist the zoom/focus ring(s) of a lens, the optics are carried forward or backward through a threaded barrel. This design results in a fixed movement ratio of the optical groups mounted inside that helicoid. The problem with this is every focal length requires a slightly different adjustment of the lens element/group spacing to properly correct aberrations and the fixed ratio of a helicoid cannot provide that kind of variance.

The helicoid is relatively simple, easy to make, and its shape tailors to a fitting physical design of a lens. If a lens were designed to have as few compromises as possible, it might look vastly different from what we see sitting on store shelves. For simplicity though, manufacturers have stuck with the helicoid and instead invested in overcoming its mechanical shortfalls with optical solutions.

Over the years, lens designers, aided by computers, have learned how to improve the optical designs of the zoom lens to work around most of the limitations of the locked-ratio helicoid. Modern zooms still aren’t quite as good as a prime lens but, with aspherical lens elements and fancy coatings to help out, they’re getting pretty darn close.

Back in the early 1970’s, Minolta’s engineers, armed with their slide rules and cigarettes, had a go at thinking outside the box to come up with a lens design that would allow for precise positioning of the optical groups in a zoom lens. What they came up with was so clever that it required they put it inside a box—a gearbox, to be precise.

Rather than work with the limitations of a helicoid design, this clever bunch decided to abandon that whole concept and create a new one where lens groups would be blessed with the freedom to move independent of each other. They came up with this unorthodox gearbox design that drives 12 optical elements in 12 separate groups along linear, gear-operated rails. With the chains of fixed-ratio movement cast from them, the entire lens design could be “geared” for precise positioning of the optics to best correct for aberrations throughout the range of focal lengths.

What they did was figure out how to make a hand held zoom lens that is as well corrected across its range of focal lengths as a fixed focal length lens would be at its one—that’s the theory anyway. In spite of the weird and wart-like appearance of their solution, Minolta’s engineers achieved with this lens something that is truly unique and special. There is no mistaking this lens for any other, that’s for sure.

Weighing in at 19.75 ounces (560 g), it isn’t particularly big or heavy. In fact, even with all the metal machinery inside this lens, it’s almost exactly half the weight of Nikon’s current 24-70mm f/2.8 VR.

Focus is adjusted by turning the big wheel while focal length is controlled by moving the lever arm. Both controls are very smooth and easy to move across their fairly short range of motion. The focus wheel features a precise distance scale with Infrared Index.

The lens has a 55mm diameter coated front element. Here you can see the profile of the gearbox which is fixed to the left-hand side of the lens body.

Did I mention it has a macro mode? The lens has a metal stem poking out of the gearbox which, when twisted anti-clockwise and pushed in, shifts everything inside the lens out toward the front, essentially putting more space between the film/sensor plane and the rear element (same thing an extension tube does). The result of this forward-shift is a reduction in the Minimum Focal Distance from 3.3 ft (1.01 m) to 1.2 ft (.37 m) @40mm.

Here, the stem is shown in the Macro position. When pushing in this stem, the focal length lever shifts forward with the internal glass. What a cool, whacky design!

Let’s see how well all of the engineering effort translates into actually making images with this lens.

My sister told me about this row of old silos that sit alongside a two-lane road not too far from where I live. Yesterday, I had to go by it while I was on errands. On the return trip I pulled over for this shot.

I had the lens set to 40mm and the aperture was wide-open at F2.8. This was the first shot I took and I kind of hurriedly grabbed it because of the unique lighting. That isn’t vignetting in the grass. Passing over head was a thick, dark cloud that cast the strangest light over this scene. No sooner I had shot this and the sun was back out in the open.

On the same errand run, I came across this old Chevrolet police car. Focal length was 80mm @ F8.

I was very interested to see how well the lens would control chromatic aberrations when shooting this brightly lit chrome.

I’ve not used a pre-1980’s zoom lens that didn’t produce some purple-fringing in a shot like this. Kudos to Minoltas engineers because there was none. Zoomed 400% in the 42 megapixel RAW file I could see nothing but bright chrome and colorful rust. 80mm @ F4

The Jelly Palm in our front yard is full of fruit this time of year. I shot this with the lens’ Macro mode enabled. 40mm @ F2.8

Just a bowl of bananas on the dinner table. Shot somewhere around 50mm @ F5.6

The Magnolia tree in the yard is sprouting new buds. Macro mode, 40mm @ F2.8. In the shade and backlit, color and contrast is good and the out-of-focus background is pleasantly smooth and non-distracting.

My second oldest daughter was kind enough to pause a moment for this final shot. 80mm @ F2.8

What can I say? The lens is awesome. All the effort put into designing this strange Gearbox-driven lens seems to have resulted in an excellent mid-range zoom lens. When I first started shooting with it, I did find it a little fiddly using a lever and wheel to make adjusts but after awhile I grew fond of it; it’s actually really fun to handle.

You don’t hold this lens like you would a traditional zoom, with your hands wrapped around the barrel. I keep it propped with the gearbox resting on the up-turned palm of my left hand and use my thumb to move the focal length lever and index finger to turn the focus wheel. The travel distance of both is just right so that you aren’t moving your fingers outside their natural range or having to make repetitious movements.

I can highly recommend this lens to anyone wanting to own a piece of history and/or turn some heads on their next photo walk. Comparing this to my favorite zoom lens, the incredible Minolta MD 35-70mm f/3.5, I would say it at least equals it. They’re both around the same size and weight and have a similar range of focal lengths. In fact, this Minolta 40-80mm f/2.8 lens is the antecedent to the 35-70mm f/3.5 (thus, for giggles, I used it to shoot the lens photos).

Minolta likely found that the unusual design and complexity of making this Gearbox lens was cost prohibitive and went back to the drawing board to come up with a balanced compromise. They only made two versions of it before canning the whole idea. The lens I have is the 1st Gen ‘MC’ version. An ‘MD’ version was made in 1977 and after that they called it quits.

Both versions can still be found for sale online, but I’ll warn you, this lens is priced for the committed collector.

Tom Leonard is an engineer, amateur photographer, and gear collector who travels around the world for work 30 days at a time. You can read more about Leonard's travels and see his photography on his website.

This article was originally published on Tom's blog, and is being republished on DPReview with express permission.

Categories: News

Sony 'trade up' program gets you $500 plus trade-in value towards a new a9

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 19:08

Switching brands is a painful and expensive process, but a new "trade up" promotion from Sony is trying to take a little bit of the sting away. For a limited time, people interested in stepping up to a Sony a7 II, Sony a7S II, Sony a7R II, or Sony a9 can get several hundreds of dollars in credit + trade-in value when they hand over their working DSLR or mirrorless camera.

These kinds of trade-in programs are not uncommon in the photo world, but we're more accustomed to seeing them from brands like Hasselblad and Leica, where the price tag for upgrading from one model to the next is so high that a significant discount for trading in your older camera is a serious boon.

Sony's promotion isn't quite as intense, but trading in an eligible DSLR or mirrorless will snag you $500 + trade-in value towards a new a9, $300 + trade-in value towards an a7R II and a7S II, and $100 + trade-in value towards a new a7 II. What's more, these discounts are being offered in parallel with instant-rebates of up to $200 on the same cameras.

If you're looking for an a9, there is a (long) list of eligible cameras that will earn you that $500 bonus; however, if you're interested in an a7 II, a7S II, or a7R II, "any working digital interchangeable lens camera" is acceptable. To learn more or take advantage of the program, read the press release below or head over to the trade up website at this link.

The 'trade up' promotion runs from August 13th through September 30th.

Press Release

Sony Rolls Out Exciting New Nationwide “α TRADE UP” Retail Event

Program offers up to $500 bonus offer on trade-in DSLR or mirrorless cameras toward purchase of Sony full-frame cameras, lenses and accessories

San Diego, August 14, 2017, Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging, today announced a new nationwide “α Trade Up” retail event with up to $500 bonus offer on top of the trade-in value of a working DSLR or mirrorless camera. The bonus offer can be applied to the purchase of several full-frame Sony cameras including the flagship α9 as well as the α7R II, α7S II and α7 II models. A variety of α full-frame lenses and α accessories are also eligible.

The trade-in and trade-up summertime bonus deal runs now through September 30, 2017, and runs in parallel with instant rebates of up to $200 on the same eligible products. Sony is also offering limited time 24-month interest free financing at participating retailers on select Sony imaging products. Combine all offers to maximum savings.

All eligible trade-in products must be in working condition. See below for a list of eligible trade-in products and requirements for eligibility. Customers are restricted to one bonus offer per item they trade-in at participating Sony Authorized Dealers.

Sony α9 bonus offer of $500 on eligible trade-in products

  • Eligible products include the Canon 6D, Canon 6D II, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 5Ds, Canon 5Ds R, Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 1DX, Canon 1DX II, Nikon D600, Nikon D610, Nikon D800, Nikon D800E, Nikon D810, Nikon D810A, Nikon D750, Nikon D3, Nikon D3s, Nikon D4, Nikon D4s, Nikon D5, Leica M9, Leica M9P, Leica Monochrom, Leica M246, Leica M240, Leica M10, Leica SL, Leica M262, Sony α7, Sony α7R, Sony α7S, Sony α7 II, Sony α7S II, Sony α7R II, Sonyα900, Sony α850, Sony α99, and Sony α99 II

Sony α7 series bonus offers and eligible trade-in products:

  • Sony α7R ll Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera: Bonus offer of $300 on any working digital interchangeable-lens camera
  • Sony α7S ll Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera: Bonus offer of $300 on any working digital interchangeable-lens camera
  • Sony α7 ll Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera: Bonus offer of $100 on any working digital interchangeable-lens camera

FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information on this promotion, please visit https://alphauniverse.com/tradeup.

Categories: News

Google's Camera app has been unofficially ported to other Android phones

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 18:26

A developer going by the handle B-S-G has created an unofficial port of Google's Camera app, allowing a larger number of Android users to utilize the software with much-loved features like HDR+. Though the app is only officially available on the Pixel smartphones, this port makes it available to any Android smartphone running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 821 or 835 processor.

Phones that can now run the Google Camera app include the Galaxy S8, LG G6, and OnePlus 5.

Google's Camera app (in conjunction with the Pixel camera hardware) has been praised for both the quality of the photos it takes and its wide range of features, including HDR+. However, the app's limitation to the Pixel smartphones meant most Android users couldn't use it. B-S-G has changed that, and though the ported app can't be downloaded from the Play Store (given that it is an unofficial port), the APK is available online.

The folks at XDA Developers both tested and analyzed the app, and concluded that it doesn't contain any malicious code and is safe to install. However, it is important to exercise caution with any non-official APK and understand that there is an implicit risk whenever an APK is sideloaded onto a device... proceed with caution.

Categories: News

Video: Meet the 'camera whisperer' who fixes cameras nobody else can

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 17:46

If your camera or lens goes for a swim in salt water, most service centers will just write it off as unfixable. But one man in Singapore, known locally as the 'Camera Whisperer,' won't give up on you. In fact, he's made a name for himself by fixing cameras nobody else wants to or can.

David Hilos, 49, is a fixture in the Singapore hobbyist photography community. So much so, that Channel NewsAsia recently filmed a profile on him titled The Camera Fixer.

Tinkering at a workbench in his small public housing apartment in Singapore, he charges a fraction of what the service centers charge and takes 'lost causes' like the water damaged Nikon D750 you see in the video above. Or this Canon 50mm F1.2 he saved after a dip in some salt water:

Check out the short documentary above to meet Mr. Hilos and watch him work. And the next time your camera takes a swim or sustains some damage that a service center tells you is beyond them, don't just give up. Try and find your own David Hilos instead.

Categories: News

Synology launches 'budget-friendly' 4-bay NAS that can handle up to 40TB of storage

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 16:10

Data storage solutions manufacturer Synology has added a new, lower-cost NAS to its DiskStation j line that has a maximum capacity of 40TB, and is aimed at the home user and photography enthusiast.

The DS418j has 4 disk bays, each of which can accommodate HDDs or SSDs of up to 10TB. Data is controlled via a new 64-bit dual-core processor and the device has been fitted with 1GB of DDR4 RAM—doubling the memory of the previous model.

Synology claims the DS418j can read at 112MB/s and write at 87MB/s encrypted and in RAID 5, providing fast data storage and retrieval, and allowing high resolution media streaming and synchronisation in domestic or small office environments. The case has a single RJ-45 1GbE LAN port and a pair of USB 3.0 sockets, and can support wireless access via a dongle.

The DS418j comes with a two-year warranty and is available now for £284/€312/$330. For more information see the Synology website.

Press Release

Synology® Introduces DiskStation DS418j Powerful entry-level 4-bay NAS for home data backup and multimedia streaming

Synology® Inc. today launched the new DiskStation DS418j, a budget-friendly 4-bay NAS server designed to help home and individual users to manage, protect and share data effectively.

DS418j is powered by a brand-new 64-bit dual-core CPU and delivers an outstanding encrypted file transfer performance at over 112 MB/s reading and 87 MB/s writing under a RAID 5 configuration in a Windows® environment. Equipped with a 1GB DDR4 memory, which is twice the size of its predecessor, and over 40TB single volume raw capacity support, DS418j brings flexible storage management in addition to smooth performance.

"In the digital era, photos, videos, and digital assets are being generated faster than ever. For home and individual users, it is essential to have a private storage solution that can satisfy the needs for both large storage capacity and secure data sharing," said Michael Wang, Product Manager at Synology® Inc. "Combining hardware innovations and rich applications, the 4-bay DS418j allows users to enjoy cloud synchronization and multimedia streaming at a competitive price."

Designed with user experience and energy efficiency in mind, DS418j is equipped with adjustable front LED indicators, allowing users to precisely control and schedule the brightness in four levels. In addition, the model consumes only 21.22 watts in full operation and as little as 8.97 watts in HDD hibernation.

DS418j runs on DiskStation Manager (DSM), one of the most advanced and intuitive operating systems for network-attached storage devices which offers a wide range of applications from backup to multimedia for home and personal use. With DSM, Synology® has received numerous media accolades, including PC Mag Readers' Choice for seven years in a row.

For more information, please visit https://www.synology.com/products/DS418j

Availability
Synology DiskStation DS418j is available worldwide immediately.

Categories: News

Smartphones killed the compact and now they're coming for entry-level ILCs

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 14:00

When friends ask me to recommend a camera, more often than not they say they're looking to take better pictures than what they get from their phone. But what does "better than my phone" actually mean?

One of those key differentiating factors has been the "pretty blurry background" effect that an interchangeable lens camera is capable of producing. Whether you know the word 'bokeh' or not, you know what a nice portrait looks like: sharp focus on the subject, a soft blurry background. And you know that your phone can't do it (until now – more on that in a second). In my experience, that's often part of what people mean when they say "better than my phone." But those days are quickly coming to an end, and it's the iPhone 7 Plus leading the way.

It's not even a question of if the $500 ILC becomes obsolete, it's a matter of when

The iPhone 7 Plus offers Portrait Mode, which uses depth information from the device's two rear-facing cameras to mimic shallow depth of field. Apple sure didn't invent it, and it's far from perfect, but that doesn't matter: they've made the effect very convincing and put it in the hands of millions of users.

The entry-level ILC is dead, long live the entry-level ILC

It's not even a question of if the $500 ILC becomes obsolete, it's a matter of when. And when may actually be right now. Ex-Google SVP Vic Gundotra spelled it out in a recent Facebook post.

He pretty much hits the nail on the head right there. As it functions now the effect isn't perfect, but it's likely already good enough for most people, and it's only going to keep getting better. And that phrase, "good enough for most people" is exactly how we talked about smartphone cameras just as the compact camera was dealt its final blow.

Computational photography killed the $500 DSLR

I know what you're thinking. "But zoom! Pixel-level resolution! Low light image quality!" I'm here to tell you that smartphones are already well on their way to solving those problems, if they haven't already. And here's the key: they don't have to get it perfect, it just has to be convincing enough to most people. Also, there are approximately zero people outside of the photography community who care how their photos look at 100% magnification.

Smartphone cameras can't get any bigger than they already are, but they can get smarter. With more cameras, sophisticated algorithms and computational techniques, that's exactly what they're doing. It won't be long before your smartphone camera's auto mode will be able to retouch images in real-time. Or change apparent focal length after-the-fact.

Lots of people who do want the image quality benefits traditionally associated with a DSLR actually want nothing to do with a DSLR

Autofocus may be the piece of the puzzle that's hardest to solve. Smartphones are slow to focus in low light, but $500 ILCs don't do a whole lot better. And neither smartphone nor entry-level DSLR is particularly good at tracking a moving toddler, for example. It's always been necessary to go farther up the product chain to get appreciably better autofocus.

Then there's just plain old inertia: lots of people who do want the image quality benefits traditionally associated with a DSLR actually want nothing to do with a DSLR. They're big, confusing and come with a significant learning curve. Camera manufacturers have been able to sell cameras to somewhat unwilling customers because they alone held the keys to better images. So once the device that's already in your pocket does just about everything a Canon T6 does, why on earth would you be bothered to buy a Rebel?

More than just image capture

Also consider that phones aren't just capture devices – they're an interface for your image storage and management. Sure, most entry-level ILCs will connect to your phone via Wi-Fi, but even when it works well, it's never as easy as just capturing the images on your smartphone in the first place.

Once smartphones can do a reasonably good imitation of things like bokeh and optical zoom, those who never wanted to pick up a dedicated camera won't have to

There are many 'set it and forget it' image management services that will automatically back up your photos, and they don't stop there – they'll automatically identify subjects, allow you to search by keyword and date, and organize them into a reasonably-priced photo book for you. Sure beats the pants off spending hours importing and cataloging photos on your hard drive.

There will always be lower-cost, accessible ILCs for people who want to venture outside of 'green square mode.' But once smartphones can do a reasonably good imitation of things like bokeh and optical zoom, those who never wanted to pick up a dedicated camera won't have to.

You're reading an article on a photography website, so I feel safe saying that you and I care about photography. We want to make pictures, and we take joy in the process. But many people don't, and they are happy to turn the job over to their smartphone. The day when that segment of the photo-taking population can do that and see results that are good enough in their eyes is right around the corner – if it isn't already here.

Categories: News

Sony Kumamoto sensor factory earthquake: first public footage

DP Review News - Mon, 14/08/2017 - 12:00
Sony Kumamoto sensor factory: first public footage of the 2016 earthquake

On April 16, 2016, disaster struck in Kumamoto in the Kyushu region of Japan. A series of earthquakes, including an unprecedented 7.0 mainshock, struck beneath Kumamoto City - the location of Sony's sensor factory. The factory itself was a mere 20 kilometers from the earthquake's epicenter. A foreshock (warning) of magnitude 6.2 came approximately two days earlier, which gave the factory time to evacuate. However, the damage to the carefully built, precision controlled and automated factory with clean rooms was devastating. Not to mention the impact on the lives of those in the region.

During a recent trip to the repaired Kumamoto factory, DPReview had an inside look at the facility and a chance to meet the people who keep one of the world's largest sources of imaging sensors operational. A video showed us the extent of the damages and repair efforts, which, combined with a better of understanding of how the facility operates, helped us appreciate just how substantial the destruction and repair processes were. We'll get to that in the following slides, but have a look above at the public's first view of footage from the facility during the earthquake and the massive repair efforts that followed.

Massive impact

Before we dive more into the impact on Sony's sensor factory itself, we'd be remiss to not mention the impact on the region. The foreshock and mainshock together claimed more than 50 lives, injured 3,000 others, forced more than 44,000 people to evacuate from their homes and left over 180,000 people seeking shelter in the days after the earthquake. The entire city of Kumamoto was left without water, flights were grounded, as was rail service due to a derailed train. A thousand buildings were seriously damaged either directly by the earthquake or due to the resulting fires and landslides, and an entire hospital had to be evacuated due to the building being knocked off its foundation.

More than 140 aftershocks were registered within the first two days. The economic costs due to the earthquake are estimated to be up to $7.5 billion. Although it's difficult to appreciate it in this image, the sensor factory is surrounded by mountainous hills resulting from a tectonic line housing many active faults. Earthquakes of some magnitude or another are common to the area. In the following days we'll have more pictures of the area, as we traveled extensively within the Kyushu region.

Source of statistics: Wikipedia

'The outside was visible from inside the clean-room'

Many sections of the 40,000 square meter facility were severely damaged. There were continued aftershocks for many days that made it difficult to re-enter and start repairs. After it was deemed safe to enter, the damage was assessed, and it was extensive. Heavy duty H-beams for structural support buckled, causing walls and ceilings to collapse. Here is an image showing the ceiling of the clean room ripped open, exposing the sky above. 'Now we were speechless,' said the camera crew filming the damage.

And those ceilings aren't your typical roofs over your head -- they house tracks that carry many of the parts from machine to machine in the automated processes of taking a silicon wafer and generating active sensors from them. Essentially, many parts of the sensor development process were disrupted.

Delicate, precision machinery: shattered

The extensive damage to the clean room meant that many of the machines processing silicon wafers to generate sensors* were destroyed, along with the many wafers each machine contained. Throughout the video you'll see shattered silicon - at various stages of the silicon-to-sensor process - scattered everywhere. Ultimately many functional machines were salvaged, removed, and brought back after the clean room was reconstructed, but many were deemed too damaged to ever function again.

* Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the actual sensor manufacturing process, which we learned about during a recent trip to the factory.

All hands on deck

The sensor factory in Kumamoto produces most of the sensors Sony manufactures not just for their own cameras, but for other manufacturers as well. This includes sensors for smartphone, security camera, webcam, automotive, medical and other imaging-related industries. When you consider that by July 2017 Sony had sold 7.2 billion sensors worldwide, you can see the impact of this disruption.

Therefore, it was imperative to restore operations to normal as soon as possible. That's why Sony factory staff members themselves, including executives, went to work right away restoring the factory. There are nearly 2700 employees at this factory and it was all hands on deck.

A spirit of personal responsibility and dedication

Imagine an earthquake at your corporate office that ruins much of your workspace. Would you expect to return to clean up and help repair the damage yourself? That's what the Kumamoto employees did. The spirit is really remarkable when you stop to consider that many of us might expect our companies to simply 'deal with it'. Here is a factory employee vacuuming up thousands of fragments of broken silicon wafers.

Operations resumed ahead of schedule

The factory employees worked with such diligence and dedication that they restored operations ahead of schedule. They did this whilst putting in place precautions that would lower the lead time from 3.5 months to 2 months were this sort of disaster to happen in the future. These measures included stronger piping as well as the engineering of self-stop systems to halt precision processes when shake is detected. These systems respond in particular to P-waves, the first of two major elastic seismic waves to arrive at a seismograph during an earthquake.

A human story of courage, dedication and ultimate success

And so the story ends on a happy note. Here is an image of the team of employees that worked countless hours to restore the Kumamoto facility to normal operations. We can only imagine the dedication involved and how heartening it was to work together to bring back to life such an important part of the company. It's a story not just of company dedication and culture, but of working together to achieve an important goal.

We were obviously touched watching the video and seeing the spirit of the employees. Were you? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories: News

How the wealthy live: Dubai's rich set – in pictures

Bread and Circuses by Nick Hannes is a revealing look at the luxurious, consumer-based lifestyles of ‘Las Vegas in the Gulf’. It won the documentary series prize in the Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2017

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Categories: News

The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

With the new 2017-18 season in full swing, we have selected 12 of our favourite images from the opening weekend in England’s top flight

Follow us on Instagram for more great sports photography

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Categories: News
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