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To St. Helens and Back: Olympus TG-Tracker Shooting Experience

Digital Photography Review - vor 4 Stunden 19 Minuten

Olympus has been in the rugged camera business for a very long time, with its first model, the Stylus 720SW, released way back in 2006. Ten years later the company has made the leap to action cams. 

The TG-Tracker is a camcorder-shaped device that can capture 4K/30p and 1080/60p video as well as timelapses. The F2 lens has a whopping 204° field-of-view 'on land' and 94 degrees when you take it diving with its included underwater lens protector. It features a 7.2MP, 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor paired with the company's latest TruePic VII processor. (If 7.2 Megapixels sounds a bit low for 4K, you're right - the camera has to interpolate in order to produce 4K as well as 8MP stills.)

The TG-Tracker captures every data point you could possibly want from an action cam.

Design-wise, there are two things that stand out. First is the camera's flip-out (but non-articulating) 1.5" LCD, which is mainly used for menu navigation. Second is what Olympus calls a built-in 'headlight,' capable of projecting up to 60 lumens of light.

What really makes the TG-Tracker unique, as its name implies, is tracking. It records location, altitude or water depth, temperature, orientation, and acceleration. All of this data is shown on graphs in the app, allowing you to see the pictures you took at a certain altitude or in a specific area of the map.

There are two other neat tricks the camera can do thanks to all these sensors. First, if the accelerometer detects a sudden change in equilibrium, it will put a chapter marker in your videos. Also, the TG-Tracker can detect when the camera goes underwater and switch the switch to the appropriate white balance setting.

All of this metadata is viewable in the Olympus Image Track app, which is where you can preview your photos and videos and then transfer them to your mobile device (save for 4K video)

To see how the TG-Tracker functions in the real world, we sent it to Mount St. Helens, an 8363 foot-tall stratovolcano most famous for its major eruption in 1980. But before we get into that, let's take a look at the design and what it's like to use this action camera.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Never miss a video: Subscribe to DPReview on YouTube

Digital Photography Review - vor 5 Stunden 19 Minuten

We've been producing more video content than ever before, including tons of content from our last year's PIX show, our ongoing series of long-form Field Tests, overviews of the latest cameras and lenses, as well beginners' technique guides and interviews. We post videos right here on our homepage when they're first uploaded, but the best way of not missing anything is to subscribe to DPReview's channel on YouTube.

We've organized our content into playlists, so you can head straight for the stuff that most interests you, whether that's long-form gear reviews or interviews, short overviews of the latest cameras and lenses, or beginners' technique guides. 

Kategorien: Fotografie

Meike launches lens line with four manual mirrorless lenses ranging from 25 to 50mm

Imaging Resource - So, 29/05/2016 - 17:59
    Hong Kong camera accessory manufacturer Meike has announced four new manual focus mirrorless lenses for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony mirrorless cameras. All of the new lenses are compatible with APS-C frame sensors and smaller. Starting with the 25mm f/0.95 lens, this fast wide angle prime has a full metal body and 10 groups of 12 lens elements. This is the most expensive lens in the group, as it's currently priced at nearly $660 USD in Sony E and Micro Four Thirds mounts on Amazon. The 28mm f/2.8...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Looking Sharp: A focus stacking tutorial

Digital Photography Review - So, 29/05/2016 - 13:00

This was taken in the deserts of Southern Utah at Snow Canyon State Park near St. George, Utah. 

 Photo: Chris Williams Exploration Photography

Background: Understanding the Process

One of the questions that I receive quite often from beginner photographers is “How do I produce tack sharp images from front to back in challenging shooting conditions or in cases where the foreground fills up nearly half the frame?” The answer in short is to utilize a process known as focus stacking. The answer is simple but the process can be very labor intensive from a shooting and processing standpoint.

Even when working with a large depth of field there may be occasions where you still have to take more than one image due to low light, wind and or large foreground subjects. Most technique books will tell you that this is easily accomplished by stopping down to a very small aperture such as F22, focusing on a set focal point at about 1/3 of the way into the frame or determining the spot from your hyperfocal distance (the distance between a camera lens and the closest object that is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity), focus at that spot and take your image.

Here's one of the images that I used during focus stacking.  This was shot at 35mm and at f/2.8 due to conditions at the time of shooting.  As you can see it was impossible to achieve sharp focus throughout the image.

In principle this sounds like a very quick and easy fix to a somewhat complex problem that plagues most landscape photographers. In practice, however, it comes with a couple of big issues. Not only can using an aperture this small decrease image quality due to diffraction, it doesn't actually deliver the maximum possible depth of field. That's where stacking comes in. In the digital age we can now improve upon this technique and produce higher quality, tack sharp images from the front to the very back of the frame.

Before diving into this process I should mention that you may not always need to use this technique and this process is really up for interpretation in regard to what you define as a ‘sharp image’. The lens quality and aperture play a huge role in whether or not you wish to go through the work of focus stacking an image. In general, I always use this process now as I want my images to look tack sharp even when printed at very large sizes.

Selecting the Aperture

Choosing the aperture is an important first step to this process. I always try to choose an aperture in the ‘sweet spot’ of the lens. This is a bit of a loaded term; you have to decide whether you are after maximum resolving power or greater overall focus in your image. These differences may be subtle in some cases, but regardless I always try to choose optimal sharpness over depth of field in an individual image, bearing in mind that I'm going to be stacking multiple images. I would rather take a few extra shots to ensure that the RAW files are of the highest quality I can achieve given the conditions.

Generally speaking, the sweet spot of a lens is about 2.5 to 3-stops from the maximum aperture. This does vary from lens to lens however; for example, I normally shoot between f/8 and f/11 when possible on my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L ii to achieve the sharpest results possible (which I know is a few stops greater). The bottom line is to get to know your lens! You can even run it through an aperture progression and compare the images to find that coveted lens ‘sweet spot’.

Behind the Lens

Focus stacking can be very tricky when you’re out in the field. I use the following steps to ensure that I don’t miss a focus point and to make adjustments on the fly in changing conditions such as light, wind and rain.

  • Find your desired composition and make sure that your tripod is in safe position that won’t allow for any movement or shifting while you’re performing the in camera focus stacking.
  • Place your camera on your tripod, turn on live view, switch your lens to manual mode, make sure that your camera is set to manual and dial in your composition.
  •  Once you have the composition dialed in lock your camera down on your tripod and make sure that your ball-head or camera mount is completely locked down so no movement can occur during this process (if some movement does occur you can try to correct this using Auto-Align in Photoshop, but I always try to avoid this to the best of my ability).
  • Use either your camera’s in camera timer (set for 2-10 seconds) or use a remote shutter trigger to avoid any camera movement issues.
  • Once you are 100% sure that you’re happy with the composition it’s time to adjust your settings; I always fire a few test shots to ensure that I can freeze the foreground subject (flowers etc.) and to see what I can get away with in regard to ISO/Aperture/Shutter-speed while still yielding an acceptable result with respect to proper exposure and the signal to noise ratio.
  • This may sound trivial but play with your settings a bit to find the right exposure/sharpness balance; aim to keep the ISO at base and the aperture as close to the ‘sweet spot’ as possible (f/8-f/11 in most cases) this may not be possible depending upon conditions, so make adjustments as you see fit.
  • Adjust your CPL or lens filter (ND etc.), if you're using one, to give the foreground more pop etc.
The Progression

Now comes the fun part: how do you make sure that you have everything in focus and that you don’t miss a focus point? There’s definitely more than one way to go about doing this, but I generally focus on the foreground elements that are closest to the lens; normally near the bottom 1/3 of the frame in live-view.

I normally zoom in to my area of interest in Live-View and dial in my focus point using manual focus.  After taking the image I repeat the process for my next focus point.
  • While in live-view, zoom in to the bottom most portion of your foreground subject and manually adjust the focus until everything is sharp and adjust your settings depending upon conditions (wind etc.)
  • To find your next focus point stay in live-view, zoom in to the same area you just photographed and move up in the frame to find your next focus point
  • Repeat this process until you reach the background elements in your image and take your final exposure.
  • You may want to bracket your last exposure to keep the highlights and shadows from clipping or to catch a sunstar; if you’re shooting on a camera that has a great deal of dynamic range (like a Sony a7r/ii or Nikon D810) then you may be able to do this with one exposure; it’s completely up to you

The toughest thing about focus stacking in the field is dealing with changing conditions such as wind, rain and light. When wind is an issue I always run through at least two or three focus stacking progressions to ensure that I have a sharp frame at each focus point. Even in perfect conditions I still run through a focus point progression at least twice to ensure that I haven't missed a point. There's nothing worse then getting home after a long day of shooting only to find that you completely missed a focus point.

Once you take your camera off of your tripod or move your tripod, it will be a huge pain to get everything lined up again and you may not even be able to in most cases. Double and triple check your exposures to ensure that you’ve got all of your focus points nailed down before moving your camera and packing up your gear.

Kategorien: Fotografie

The strongest way of seeing: Huntington Witherill’s shares his composition secrets

Imaging Resource - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 18:00
    Photographer Huntington Witherill studied with Ansel Adams and has had a distinguished career spanning over 45 years. Recently, he met with Marc Silber to discuss composition. For Witherill, a good composition is one that shows the scene not only for what it is, but also as something else. He recalls a Minor White quote, "Photographing things for what they are, and for what else they are." This idea is critical to Witherill's photographic process. As you can see in the video below, clouds are important to Witherill's work....
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Who says old cameras can’t take home the prize money? Our April POTD contest winners unveiled!

Imaging Resource - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 13:18
    We test the latest digital cameras for you along with the lenses that adorn them, but that doesn't mean we aren't nostalgic about some of the better models from yesteryear. For the month of April in our Photo of the Day contest, the winning image and grand prize of $300 in Adorama spending money was captured by our "regular" Terry Cervi and a trusty Canon EOS 10D, a camera that first came to market some 13 years ago! The 10D was the first Canon DSLR to take the "D" from the front of the model number, as Nikon customarily does,...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Huawei P9 camera is nice, but it's still a smartphone camera

Digital Photography Review - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 13:00

To dismiss the Huawei P9's imager as 'just another smartphone camera' would be unfair. Its dual 12MP cameras aren't your average dual cameras – Huawei claims that by using one monochrome and one RGB sensor, the camera is 100% more sensitive to light than your standard smartphone camera. It offers Raw capture, full manual exposure control and laser-assisted autofocus. Oh, and Leica had a hand in designing the module. All-in-all, there's plenty going for it camera-wise. 

We approached the P9 eager to give it a try, but with a healthy dose of skepticism. And keeping our expectations measured, we were pleased by the Huawei P9's results. For one thing, shooting with it is a nice experience. There are multiple grid overlay options, a level gauge (praise hands emoji!) and you can easily toggle between full manual and full auto shooting. It's also possible to shoot exclusively with the monochrome camera, which opens up other creative possibilities.

The P9 offers many of the comforts of an advanced point-and-shoot. So how's the image quality? It's pretty much as we expected. Good light JPEGs look just peachy on phone-sized screens, but at 100% they don't look exactly '100 emoji' 100. Grass turns mushy and halos start appearing around high contrast edges. Things obviously get quite noisy by the time you get to ISO 3200.

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But wait, there's Raw! You can see some of the benefits in terms of detail retention in the studio scene widget$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2550").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2550); }); }), but definitely check out the difference it makes in some of our real-world samples. It should be noted that Raw capture is only available in Pro mode, and can't be used when shooting with the monochrome camera.

TL;DR, I'd be pretty happy if the Huawei P9 camera was the camera I had with me all the time. But the dual camera system hasn't solved the low light troubles inherent to small sensors.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Caffeine Priority: Printing your own photos brings your work to life

Imaging Resource - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 11:59
    Wake up with IR! Here's today's cup of Caffeine Prioirity... Printing is a special experience. Jaron Schneider recently wrote an excellent article for Resource which did an excellent job of highlighting why printing your work is a distinctly rewarding experience. He says, "It wasn't very long ago that I really did not understand the people who dedicated full rooms in their homes to printers, paper, mounting equipment and matte board…But now, looking back on it after getting my own printer and dedicated a whole room to it...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Millions of views, but then what? Going viral isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, says wedding photographer

Imaging Resource - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 01:59
    Going viral is a common goal for photographers and other content creators. Why wouldn't you want as many people as possible to see your work? Finnish wedding photographer Aaro Keipi had one of his photos go viral and thought it was a dream come true -- but it turned out not to be all it was cracked up to be. It all started when Keipi posted the wedding photo shown below on popular image sharing website Imgur. Within a few hours it had over 100,000 views, and it wasn't much longer before it was picked up by numerous websites...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Ricoh warns of possible production delays in wake of Kumamoto earthquakes

Imaging Resource - Sa, 28/05/2016 - 01:34
    Planning to purchase a new camera or lens from Ricoh or its Pentax brand? If so, you might want to get your order in pronto unless you want to be stuck waiting, as the company has today warned of potential production issues for interchangeable and fixed-lens cameras, as well as for the interchangeable lenses used on its SLR and mirrorless cameras. Ricoh is hardly alone in this; we've heard of production issues from a number of its rivals already, and they all have the same root cause. Although Ricoh's own facilities weren't...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Novoflex releases Canon EF electronic adapter for Leica SL

Digital Photography Review - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 19:18

Just bought a Leica SL but can't afford to buy a Leica lens to put on it? Don't worry - German manufacturer Novoflex has just the thing for you.

The new Novoflex SL-EOS adapter allows certain Canon EF lenses and teleconverters to be used on the Leica SL, with support for several functions including autofocus. 

Novoflex has launched its new SL - EOS electronic adapter which, according to the manufacturer allows 'around 30' Canon EF lenses to be used with the Leica SL camera. The adapter transmits focal distance and aperture EXIF data, has an AF/MF mode, and supports autofocus, aperture control, and depth of field indication. According to Novoflex, ‘around 30’ Canon EF lenses and teleconverters work with the adapter, and image stabilization is not supported.

The SL-EOS adapter is currently listed on Novoflex's website for €499 (~$555)

Kategorien: Fotografie

Content-Aware Crop: Photoshop CC 2016 aims to fill in blank areas after you straighten photos

Imaging Resource - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 19:00
    It happens to everyone at one point or another: The dreaded tilted horizon. It's not a difficult thing to fix during post-processing, but you always lose parts of your image when you straighten and crop your photo. Adobe Photoshop's latest release hopes to correct that with the new "Content-Aware Crop" feature. When you straighten the horizon (or want to expand your image beyond its original frame) Content-Aware Crop will fill in the blanks that are created. In the video below, Adobe's group product manager Stephen Nielson...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Dual-cam Duel: Sony and LG Innotek rumored to be competing for Apple orders

Digital Photography Review - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 15:22

Judging by the number of rumors buzzing around the internet it seems almost certain that at least one version of the upcoming iPhone 7 will come with a dual-camera setup. Word on the street until now has been that in addition to the standard model Apple is planning to offer a premium version of the larger 'Plus' model with a dual-cam designed by Linx, an optical engineering company that was bought by Apple last year.

According to new information this might be, at least partly, incorrect. Financial publication Barron's quotes Citi Research in saying that all 5.5-inch iPhone models coming this fall will have dual-cameras on the back, not just a premium model.

Barron's also quotes Chris Chan of Asia-based financial services group Nomura:

'We think Sony may not be able to deliver its full share of dual cameras to Apple due to: (1) lower-than-expected yield, and (2) damage to its production facility from the April earthquake in Kumamoto. As a result, we think LGI will gain majority share of the initial dual camera orders from Apple...'

Looking at the amount of information out in the open there is almost no doubt that whatever the manufacturer of the modules, we'll have a dual-cam iPhone to play with in September. The question is if the dual-lenses will be used for optical zooming, as on the LG G5, or to enhance image quality and simulate a shallow depth-of-field, as we've seen in the Huawei P9.  We'll only have to wait a few more months to find out...

Kategorien: Fotografie

Critical eye: Picturesqe aims to highlight your best frames and throw out the worst

Digital Photography Review - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 13:00

Picturesqe is a software application that’s designed to speed up the process of selecting the best image from a sequence of frames and the most successful pictures from a day’s shooting or a project. Load your images into the program and it applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to pick the best shots based on its own criteria and common preferences in photography.

The idea is that the program analyzes the pictures as you import them, highlighting some and rejecting others, in an automated process that takes the strain out of determining which are the frames to use. All you have to do is review those Picturesqe selects and chose the best of three, for example, instead of the best of the 26 you shot in that sequence.

I have to say at this very early stage that I’m not very keen on a machine making artistic decisions for me. It’s enough to battle the wants and tastes of a pushy modern camera without then allowing a canned algorithm to replace the subtle process of appreciating line, form, focus, light, composition and atmospheric exposure. That is quite a lot to expect a computer program to do, no matter how ‘intelligent’ it is. Nevertheless, I endeavored to give Picturesque a shot.

What it does The beginning of the process involves importing your images into Picturesqe, which sends thumbnails to its servers to create groups and then determine which pictures are the best of each group.

Picturesqe is a desktop application that runs on PC and Mac platforms, using support from the cloud to run its more power-intensive tasks. Once installed the program invites the user to import images either from an external source, such as a memory card, or from files already stored on the hard drive. As images are imported they are analyzed so that they can be formed into groups of similar-looking images and then arranged in order so that the best frames of each group are positioned at the top left of the screen.

The process of grouping and ordering is done via an algorithm that exists in the cloud – or Picturesqe’s servers – so thumbnail images are sent from your machine for inspection and the information gleaned returns to Earth to inform the arrangement of images in the Picturesqe user window.

The import process doesn’t actually copy files from the memory card onto your main desk drive but acts as a filtering system in between the two – a sort of staging post – so that you'll eventually only have to save the best of your images. This way you'll stop clogging your machine with pictures that will never be used and never seem to get deleted.

Does it work? I imported the contents of a memory card into the software and it sorted the 460 image into groups according to content and what it determined would be the pictures I would want to choose the best of. Pictures it couldn't find groups for, and lone images, are left floating freely. While most grouping exercises go well there are exceptions, such as this group in which the images clearly do not belong together.

I found the results of an import and a dose of analysis to be a little mixed. At first I was impressed that Picturesqe was able to divide the contents of a memory card that contained street images, portraits and product shots into a number of mostly sensible groups. Images that feature the same color in about the same place get grouped easily, and those that contain the same objects in approximately the same composition are also bundled together with a decent degree of accuracy. Pictures that fall between stools are left ungrouped for us to leave floating on their own, to manually delete or to add to the group we think most appropriate.

Opening a group reveals what the program thinks of your pictures, as it orders them according to its perception of their merits and labels those it doesn’t think much of with a waste paper basket. Those with a sensitive nature should avoid this stage, as the program’s mathematical opinion will not necessarily reflect everyone’s perceptions of their artistic brilliance.

I had to remind myself that it was a machine I was dealing with so I didn’t have to take things personally

In some instances I was glad of Picturesqe’s help in selecting the best frames from each group, but in others I was left slightly mystified by the way my images had been treated – like entering a camera club competition. Pictures that I thought were the better of the group were often not placed ahead of others I thought less pleasing. On more than a few occasions pictures I had previously selected for printing were marked out for shredding by the algorithm in the cloud. I had to remind myself that it was a machine I was dealing with so I didn’t have to take things personally. I hope Picturesqe has good insurance to pay for user’s trauma therapy. 

I wouldn't have grouped all of these images together as, while they are all from the same shoot, they represent the pool from which I'd hope to pull three quite different pictures. It doesn't make sense, to me at least, to group uprights and landscape format images together.

The criteria for the grouping process is a little more open than I’d like as, for instance, it doesn’t seem to take into account the orientation of the image. When shooting a portrait, for example, I’ll shoot poses and locations in upright and landscape formats, and generally edit to offer the sitter one of each. To me then it doesn’t make sense to group uprights and landscape format images together as though you’d pick one or the other instead of one of each. On the whole though the grouping process does a pretty decent job of working out which pictures belong together, and will only rarely drop an odd frame into a group in which it clearly doesn’t belong.

Groups can be edited, of course, once the program has made them, and we can reject individual images from the group so that they float free in the main browser window. A process of drag-and-drop then allows us to manually create our own groups by bunching images together.

This is how the images look when they are first imported into the program - as they should. Picturesqe though then drops the camera-dictated color, contrast and styles for a much more 'Raw' looking image. Removing image characteristics doesn't make picking a winner easier.

The application works with Raw and JPEG files, and I was impressed it is able to display the latest Raw files from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80/85 even before Adobe can. It does it though at the expense of any in-camera processing settings so we see the Raw ‘Raw’ data with distortions that are usually corrected before we get to view the picture. Anything you’ve shot in black and white using Raw will also be displayed in color, though for a short few seconds images are shown as we intended before Picturesqe renders them flat and with native colors. Thus we have to make our judgements without a good deal of the qualities we might often weigh-up when selecting the best of our images – such as color.

I found this quite irritating. JPEGs are rendered just as they should be though, but when fed simultaneously-shot Raw and JPEG files we only get to see the Raws but with the rendering of the JPEGs – though I found the relationship between what I’d shot and what was displayed a little inconsistent across camera brands. If you only shoot Raw though you get to look at slightly flat and unsharp images.

Judgement Day It seems that the 'best' picture (top left) has been selected by the software because the subject is quite central in the frame. The picture the software likes least (bottom right) shows the subject against a distracting background.

It’s not completely clear on what grounds the program and analysis makes its judgements as it orders our images from good to bad. I spotted that it seems to like a subject that’s in the middle of the frame, and one that sits on a third, and that it can tell within a group when the subject is against a clear background and when it’s against one that’s a bit distracting.

Magnifying the eye of the sitter from this group of portraits makes it clear that the software doesn't place sharpness at the top of its list of priorities. The sharpest picture (bottom center) is actually marked with a waste paper basket, indicating that that Picturesqe thinks I should dump it. The shot it recommends is a good deal less focused.


Things that humans might take into account though the software doesn’t seem to – such as exposure, over-powering flash, focus and whether there are distractions in the background. It can work out when eyes are closed though, and it knows the difference between someone facing the camera straight on and someone at an angle – but it always prefers face-on as though that’s the safe formula for a ‘good’ picture. It can’t tell an unflattering angle from a complementary one though, and doesn’t distinguish between a well-lit subject and lighting that makes a nose look big.

The zoom feature identifies the part of the subject that you want to inspect and just magnifies that bit. The clever bit is that it doesn't just magnify the same area of the frame of each picture, but actually identifies the part of the subject – wherever that subject is in the frame.

A very nice feature is the synchronized zoom that is great for checking focus across a number of images at the same time. With a collection of portraits, for example, you can zoom into the eye of one frame and the eye area of all the other frames get magnified along with it. What is particularly clever is that the eyes don’t have to be at the same coordinates in the picture for the program to magnify them, as it can identify similar objects in the images across the series.

This feature worked brilliantly for portraits, allowing closed eyes and missed focus to be spotted easily and early on, and on occasions it worked even when the images weren’t all in the same orientation. The success rate is reduced for landscapes and more general scenes where the element you want to inspect isn’t as distinct or as obvious as an eye, but the application can concentrate on rocks, trees and buildings so long as the object you are checking has reasonably powerful edges and outlines.

When the images are less regular, such as in these street pictures, the software finds it more difficult to identify the subject. Using the zoom feature didn't allow me to compare the sharpness of the subjects in the street pictures, even though they have similar outlines and contrast in each frame. Export

Once you have whittled your selections down to the best images in each group, or to the better groups in the collection, you are ready to export the pictures to their final destination. The editing process involves deleting the images that aren't wanted – not from the card or from their home on your hard drive, but from the imported collection. No files are actually deleted.

To do this you'll have to click on the trash can icon on the image. And that will have to be done on every unwanted image. So, if you have shot a sequence of 100 images and only need one you have to delete 99. You can attend to each frame individually and delete each one in turn, or you can select them all and use the delete key on the keyboard.

I’m a little unhappy about the solely subtractive nature of the process and feel I’d rather just select the best frame and export that without having to deal with the wreckage of the frames that didn’t work, but the truth is it's more of a big deal in my head that in reality. Clearing away the duds doesn’t take that long.

Images can then be exported to a chosen folder on your hard drive or directly into Adobe Lightroom for editing. 

The research program

At the export stage the first option in the navigation is to send the images to Picturesqe’s research program. The company wants users to send images that have been rated by humans so that it can compare the ‘right’ ranking and grouping with the way the software performed. The idea is that the company can study the differences and similarities and develop algorithms that select and grade more like the user does.

The uploaded images, we are assured, will never be used for anything other than research, and the company takes only a 1500x1500 pixel thumbnail that is studied by a computer and not by a human. The idea is to build a database of how images are selected to allow the software to learn and get better at its job.

In this example the software has compared a Raw file with a JPEG I processed from that same file, and has concluded that the Raw file isn't just weaker than the JPEG, but that it should be deleted. Had I used the software to select which Raw files I would save for processing in the first place, this one wouldn't have ever got to the black and white JPEG stage. Conclusion

So, Picturesqe isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot, in fact, but it gets enough right that shooters who work with long sequences of the same subject will find it useful. In more general work it is not much of a chore to compare three or four frames to select which is the better, but if your photography involves long bursts of action or multiple frames of the same thing, then what it does will be enough to make it useful and to save you time. As the engineers seem to have prioritized portraiture it makes sense that this is the area in which it works best, and for which I’d most recommend it, but motor sports and general action would suit it too.

The company doesn’t claim that Picturesqe can make judgements of taste

As the selection process tends to judge on more formulaic principals you’ll have more success with images that are more about content than artistic ideals. The company doesn’t claim that Picturesqe can make judgements of taste, but that it uses math and obvious standards to rank images, and that is exactly what you get.

There is a good deal of potential to make this a very powerful program for factual photographic subjects and the learning element of Picturesqe promises great things. Right now it needs a bit more work to make it of a standard that the majority of photographers will find it useful, but it is an interesting idea and even as it is will be useful for a good many.

Fortunately we don’t have to take its advice completely, and when you work together with the program, combining its literal mind with your own taste and style, it can work very well if you shoot the right sort of subject.

What we like:
  • A great concept
  • Easy to use
  • Very good for comparing magnified views 
  • It does have some success
  • Good for factual images
What we don't like:
  • Success rate just isn't high enough yet
  • It doesn't sort by orientation
  • Doesn't seem to take focus into consideration

Interview Q&A with Picturesqe CEO Daniel Szollosi

We got some time with Daniel Szollosi, the CEO and founder of Picturesqe, and questioned him about the way the application works and some of the issues we picked up during the review process.

DPReview: The process to get to the pictures photographers want to save and work on means they have to delete those that they don't. So, in a collection of 100 pictures to get to one you want to keep you need to delete 99. Is there a way to just export the one you want instead of going through the process of deleting the 99?

Daniel Szollosi: We realize it is not a perfect workflow concept, you are totally right. Originally our primary goal was to get rid of the digital trash - so image deletion was the main focus. Since then we have come up with a new workflow, which directly helps the selection of top quality photos. The new workflow is going to be released in the next version of Picturesqe.

DPR: Raw files don't always look the way they were shot - when they are supposed to be black and white, for example. Does that only happen when there is no simultaneously shot JPEG imported with it?

DS: We know about this bug. It’s related to white balance, we have problems with setting the right value yet. 

DPR: Your program displays Raw files from cameras that are new and which Adobe can't display yet. How does that happen?

DS: We’re using a 3rd party library for decoding Raw camera images. Another advantage of this library is that the user doesn’t need to install any kind of camera drivers. 

DPR: The program doesn't always detect when images are out of focus - is it supposed to or is that something you are working on?

DS: We are definitely working on it! In the next version we expect a really big improvement regarding focus detection. We have developed a technology which seems to be better than the current state-of-the-art regarding local sharpness/blur evaluation. 

DPR: Picturesqe seems to prioritize images where the subject is in the centre of the frame, or on a third. Is that part of the analysis? What other factors are taken into account?

DS: We do take into account composition factors, like rule of thirds. The quality factors we take into account are:

  • Location of visually attended area
  • Exposure (globally and in the visually attended area)
  • Focus (global blur, wrong focus localization)
  • Lighting distribution
  • Color harmony
  • Composition
  • Optical distortions
  • Visual noise

DPR: In some cases the program recommends deleting a Raw file but promotes a JPEG processed from that file to the top of the stack. Why does that happen?

DS: Thanks for mentioning this, we have not thought about it. We resize the images to a smaller size when evaluating the quality and aesthetics and on this scale Raw information does not exist anymore. We can easily implement a filter which prioritize Raw images when compared to its JPEG descendant.

DPR: Does Picturesqe assess exposure and the content of the background?

DS: Semantically we do not interpret the content of the background, but visually we assess the background and the foreground separately. The quality attributes calculated from the foreground have more weights.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Take to the skies for less: Become a 4K drone pilot for $460 with the Xiaomi Mi Drone

Imaging Resource - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 12:59
    Chinese electronics company Xiaomi has revealed their 4K quadcopter drone that is capable of capturing RAW images -- and it's impressively affordable, at only US$460. The Mi Drone is looking to compete feature-wise with drones such as the DJI Phantom 4 (although the Mi Drone doesn't include collision avoidance for a tracking mode) at a much lower price point. At US$460, the Mi Drone is also more than $100 less than the 4K-version of the DJI Phantom 3, so you're able to get a newer drone for less. Some additional features...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

ZAP! Ultra slow-motion video of a lightning bolt at 7,000 fps is mesmerizing

Imaging Resource - Fr, 27/05/2016 - 10:59
    Lightning storms are one of nature's most exciting and fascinating displays. Part of the appeal of lightning is its amazing speed, which makes it impossible for the naked eye to see what's happening in the sky when each bolt strikes. Aiming to reveal the invisible, Professor Ningyu Liu at the Florida Institute of Technology's Geospace Physics Laboratory recorded lightning at a blistering 7,000 frames per second. The video below, which is played back at 700 frames per second, offers a fascinating look at lightning as it...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Create motion timelapses on the cheap: Make your own custom camera slider for under $100

Imaging Resource - Do, 26/05/2016 - 23:45
    Do you have roughly US$75, some tools, and the desire to add motion to your timelapses through the use of a motorized camera slider? If so, perfect -- Instructables has just the DIY project for you! The build shown in the videos below is designed to support something a bit lighter than your favorite DSLR, but DIY Photography wagers that you could add a bit of extra heft to this slider for around $25. While this may seem a bit complicated, keep in mind that commercially-available camera sliders can run you a decent chunk...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Spark your creativity: Adobe launches new free-to-use visual storytelling platform, Spark

Imaging Resource - Do, 26/05/2016 - 22:59
    As part of the Creative Cloud ecosystem, Adobe has launched Spark, a collection of free "integrated web and mobile solutions for creating and sharing impactful visual stories." Putting the power to create visual content in the hands of content creators -- and for free, no less -- Spark could certainly be of interest to photographers out there. Executive vice president and general manager of Digital Media at Adobe, Bryan Lamkin, feels that with Spark, "anyone can create authentic, professional looking visual content for...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Pentax K-1 Gallery: Dozens of real-world samples for your pixel-peeping pleasure

Imaging Resource - Do, 26/05/2016 - 22:48
    A few days ago, one of the year's most exciting new cameras -- the Pentax K-1 -- landed on my desk for a review. As a Pentaxian myself, I've been waiting with barely-contained excitement to get my hands on the brand's first full-frame DSLR. (And if the flood of comments our preview received is any indication, I'm certainly not alone in that!) Although I have quite a few lenses for my own personal Pentax K-5, the overwhelming majority were designed with a sub-frame camera in mind. Thankfully, I received some full-frame glass along...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Western Digital acquires SanDisk as more data moves to solid state memory

Digital Photography Review - Do, 26/05/2016 - 20:50

Hard disk drive giant Western Digital has completed its acquisition of flash manufacturer SanDisk in a deal that will create a partnership that WD hopes will help it leap into the future of computer memory. The company announced plans to buy SanDisk last fall.

Western Digital’s reliance on spinning disk technology in a world that is swiftly moving towards solid state drives has been a cause for concern for the company that currently claims 44% market share for HDDs. Acquiring the world’s largest producer of NAND flash memory should settle some nerves.

Western Digital is said to be interested in cloud storage and computing solutions as PC sales continue to decline, so SanDisk’s know-how in flash data center technologies that provide more capacity in a smaller space, with less heat and faster communication have proven attractive. 

All told, the deal cost Western Digital $17 billion in cash and shares, $2 billion short of initial estimates. The company expects to be able to make significant savings through economies of scale, expecting combined revenue of almost $20 billion with a better position to compete against Samsung and Micron.

For more information visit the SanDisk and Western Digital websites.

Press release:

WESTERN DIGITAL COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF SANDISK, CREATING A GLOBAL LEADER IN STORAGE TECHNOLOGY

Western Digital® Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Western Digital Technologies, Inc. has completed the acquisition of SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK). The addition of SanDisk makes Western Digital Corporation a comprehensive storage solutions provider with global reach, and an extensive product and technology platform that includes deep expertise in both rotating magnetic storage and non-volatile memory (NVM).
The Company also indicated that the debt financing associated with this transaction has been consummated and that the previously obtained funds from this financing have been released from escrow to Western Digital Technologies, Inc.

“Today is a significant day in the history of Western Digital,” said Steve Milligan, chief executive officer of Western Digital. “We are delighted to welcome SanDisk into the Western Digital family. This transformational combination creates a media-agnostic leader in storage technology with a robust portfolio of products and solutions that will address a wide range of applications in almost all of the world’s computing and mobile devices. We are excited to now begin focusing on the many opportunities before us, from leading innovation to bringing the best of what we can offer as a combined company to our customers. In addition, we will begin the work to fully realize the value of this combination through executing on our synergies, generating significant cash flow, as well as rapidly deleveraging our balance sheet, and creating significant long-term value for our shareholders.”

The integration process will begin immediately through the joint efforts of teams from both companies. As previously announced, Steve Milligan will continue to serve as chief executive officer of Western Digital, which will remain headquartered in Irvine, California. Sanjay Mehrotra, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of SanDisk, will serve as a member of the Western Digital Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“As a combined company, we will be best positioned to address the demands for data storage, which is growing exponentially every year,” said Sanjay Mehrotra. “Growth and change go hand in hand, and we couldn’t be happier to grow and change together with Western Digital. I look forward to contributing to realizing the potential of this combination as a member of the board.”
Under the terms of the transaction, each outstanding share of SanDisk common stock was converted into the right to receive $67.50 per share in cash and 0.2387 shares of Western Digital common stock.

SanDisk shareholders looking for information with regard to the payment of the merger consideration should review the Public FAQ available in the Investor Relations section of our website at investor.wdc.com or click here.

Kategorien: Fotografie